I’m sure you’ve heard about the new Star Wars movie,
The Force Awakens.
It’s breaking all box office records,
and I’ve seen it myself a couple of times.
One of the things I find interesting about this new Star Wars trilogy
is that it begins in the same way as the original trilogy with Luke Skywalker.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m not giving much away
by saying that the main character starts the story on a desert planet
feeling forsaken, feeling abandoned,
just like Luke Skywalker alone on the planet Tatooine
feeling left out of things,
feeling abandoned by his friends who have gone off to fight in the rebellion.
Now this is not unique, of course, to Star Wars.
Many, many stories begin wth the main character
being abandoned or forsaken.
Harry Potter, for instance, is left on the Dursley doorstep as a baby
where he grows up in a tiny room under the stairs, abandoned, seemingly, by any friends he might have had.
There’s also Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked on an island,
young Pip in Great Expectations and Jane Eyre,
orphans who are raised by distant family members,
and Cinderella who is left abandoned when her father passes away
and is forsaken, ignored, persecuted by her stepmother and stepsisters.
These stories resonate with us
because we can feel abandoned at times,
we can feel forsaken,
that we’re living as the prophet Isaiah says in a desolate land.
This is especially true this time of year in January,
with its grey skies and frigid temperatures.
We’ve just come out of the long holiday season.
The celebrating began at Thanksgiving
and lasted all through November and December.
And then suddenly life returns to normal.
The mail has turned from Christmas cards to credit card bills.
Now we’re back at work,
the kids are back in school, and so life continues.
It’s a bit of a let down,
this time of year called Ordinary Time.
It’s not meant to be humdrum, but that’s sometimes how we feel.
The word Ordinary itself simply comes from the word Ordinal
which means counted, it’s counted time,
we count the weeks of the Church year.
But maybe sometimes we feel instead
that we’re counting down the days to our next vacation.
And the culture around us doesn’t help, either.
Sometimes we feel abandoned by the culture,
abandoned by people who call us ignorant for our beliefs,
or who say that we’re outdated,
that the values we believe in are old-fashioned.
We’re “out of touch with reality.”
Sometimes this even happens on a national scale
when a group is mocked or persecuted.
Certainly the Jews during the Holocaust
must have felt abandoned,
like they were living in desolate times.
In today’s world Christian Syrians
and other Christians in the Middle East feel abandoned, forsaken.
And so in some way we can all relate to being abandoned,
of being left on our own,
like Rey or Luke Skywalker in Star Wars,
or Harry Potter, or Jane Eyre.
That’s why the Wedding Feast of Cana is so important today, right now.
For the rest of this year we will be reading from the gospel of Luke,
but before we get to Luke,
the Church chooses this reading from John’s Gospel
to help us transition from the Christmas season to Ordinary Time.
The Wedding feast of Cana reminds us
that we are not forsaken,
that we are not abandoned,
that we are not living in desolation.
This is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in John’s gospel.
At Christmas we celebrated Jesus’ birth,
last week we recalled Jesus’ baptism,
and now we have the beginning of his public ministry.
And so at the very beginning, at the outset,
we’re given a reminder
that though we may at times feel abandoned,
though we may at times feel left out,
this gospel tells us not to let that get us down,
not to let that overcome us.
Jesus is at a wedding with his mother,
and as one spiritual writer puts it,
We don’t know the couple was whose wedding Jesus celebrated.
Maybe that’s because it wasn’t just their wedding,
but the marriage between God and the people of God.
…Isaiah had dreamed about the day when
“as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
so shall your God rejoice in you.”
For John, Jesus is not just a guest at the wedding,
he is the bridegroom who has come to make a loving and lasting
commitment with God’s people.
And at this wedding in Cana,
the celebration is maybe beginning to die down,
just as in a marriage the excitement can die down,
the couple can settle into a routine,
the family can get in a rut.
At this wedding in Cana the wine is running out.
In our lives, it can feel like the wine is running out.
And it takes someone like Mary to recognize it.
It takes someone like Mary to point out that the wine is running out,
that the celebration is about to fall apart,
and that Jesus is the one who can bring it back to life.
And so Mary goes to Jesus
and then she goes to the servers and says,
“Do whatever he tells you to do.”
And Jesus changes the water into wine.
As we begin Ordinary Time it is good for us to hear
that as we continue in January and move into February,
Jesus turns the water of our lives into wine.
The story of Cana is all about newness:
When we invite Jesus into our lives,
just as the couple invited him to their wedding,
then he takes the ordinary moments and fills them with grace.
Our getting up in the morning for breakfast,
our commute to work,
the daily grind,
are full of graces
now that Jesus has come into the world.
And just as Mary noticed that the wine was running out,
we can look at the world around us and notice the wine running out,
the celebration starting to die down,
the feelings of abandonment and desolation starting to grow.
It’s at those times most of all that we turn to Jesus
and tell him, “We have no wine.”
And then we listen to him, and we “Do whatever he tells us.”
This is why we have each been given the spiritual gifts we heard today
in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians
Some of us are asked to express wisdom,
some of us to heal.
We have all been given different gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Each of us are servants at the wedding
and Mary says to each one of us,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Just as the servants at the wedding assisted Jesus
in turning water into wine,
we are to place our spiritual gifts before Jesus
and assist him
in turning the water of our lives into the wine of salvation.
The prophecy of Isaiah has come true:
We are a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by our God.
No more shall people call us “Forsaken,” or our land “Desolate,”
but we shall be called “My Delight,” and our land “Espoused.”
When we feel abandoned and forsaken,
this scripture gives us new hope.
You know, that’s the title of the original Star Wars movie
with Luke Skywalker,
A New Hope.
And the new Star Wars movie is called The Force Awakens.
Today we are reminded that Jesus is the source of our real hope.
Jesus is our new hope each day and always.
And we see in today’s gospel what happens
when the real force awakens,
we see what happens when the Son of God begins his public ministry
and works the first of his miraculous signs.
That’s why we come here to celebrate the Eucharist.
We come to receive the consecrated wine, the Blood of Christ,
and the consecrated bread, the Body of Christ,
that transforms us week by week,
transforms the water of our lives into the wine of salvation
and banishes all feelings of abandonment and desolation.