The Jesus Poems: Cana

It was getting late
with the warm fuzz
of the wine
well worked into our minds
when the first sign
of the Kingdom of Heaven
in a back room
with only the paid help
as witnesses
and the quality
of the gift
passing unnoticed
because of our

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21 thoughts on “The Jesus Poems: Cana”

  1. Dr. Beck (or Richard, if it isn't too presumptuous) -- if I were a drinking person, I'd be up for the benefits of "warm fuzzy brain" right about now...  But, alas, I am not a drinker.  And not because I'm a Church Lady wannabe; too many alcoholics in my past from whom I've seen the worst of all effects of drinking.  Hip evangelicals (and modern Methodists alike) hate me -- because they perceive that I'm judging *them* by not celebrating the drink, either in word or deed.  Oh well :-)

    I do love the poetry, and admire your willingness to put yourself "out there" (or here, as the case happens to be).  Creative writing and poetry are such a personal thing; my teen daughter (whom I homeschool, if I haven't mentioned that) is an avid reader, but a reluctant writer.  She's becoming more confident in using her "voice" and it is really neat to hear her emerging expressiveness.  That, like reading your blog, books, and poetry, has been a gift...the quality of which has not escaped me.  Thank you.

  2. Reading Notes:

    There has been a lot written about how the first of the signs in the gospel of John was the making of wine at the wedding feast at Cana, with a lot of attention given to how God "kept the party going." This poem reflects on a different aspect of the story, how the sign went unnoticed.

    Two reasons for this. First, the sign occurs in the back of the house out of sight. The drinkers are unaware what has happened. They don't know how they have been "saved." Only the servants interacting with Jesus observe the sign. The story also notes that the wine made by Jesus was of excellent quality and should have been served first, when the wedding party was sober. But now, late into the party, this high quality wine will be "wasted" on those who have become drunk. The sign doesn't just save, it's beyond what anyone can appreciate in the midst of drunken revelries.

    All this, it seems to me, is a metaphor for grace. About how the signs are right in front of us but we fail, because of our "intoxication", to observe, note, and mark.

  3. I  feel I am stating the obvious. But, I cannot imagine a better picture of the work and posture of Chirst toward us all than this. 
    Beautiful poetry. 

  4. I would have to agree with Patricia's point.  Winter Christian POV?  I certainly can relate to the "high complaint" with religious experience and (most) doctrine/dogma, and that's no secret among anyone who remotely knows me.  The point at which I become annoyed (the "intoxicated" to which you referred, I wonder?), discouraged, and ambivalent about community is the amount of harm others are willing to inflict ("truth-telling") in the name of grace.

    In fact, I observed and noted this very situation playing out here, in response to the dish-washing post.  Jana felt compelled to post a clarifying statement before the whole conversation devolved into what a bad man you are, Dr. Beck, for being such a presumably patriarchal jerk.  Holy crud.  Honestly, I would not have assumed that, given all that you had previously written here.  But that's how "love" and "grace" goes oftentimes...I would like to close my eyes now and become intoxicated and oblivious to such "grace."  Jesus had the right idea.  Sigh.  If only I had not had such adverse experiences with others who abused alcohol, I would no doubt be a happier imbiber of spirits today.  :-)

    I mentioned in my previous comment the small detail of my family's choice to homeschool, because I noted in an earlier comment your reference to some troubling conversations with parents from your son's Christian school.  I'm waiting for that to get picked on.  You really have to be careful how much personal information you divulge on a public blog, because it will set you up for personal attacks, from those whose choices are different from your own.  Christian blogs are war zones like this.  It is best to stick to high level, analytical, detached analysis of concepts without getting down into earthy real-life matters.  That is probably best, because digital friendship has its limitations, realistically-speaking.  If only it weren't the case in face-to-face interactions and relationships...

    I really quit blaming God long ago, or doubting his lack of grace toward me or the world as a whole.  I have my doubts about human beings' ability to grasp the concept of grace and pay it forward.  Christians betray their own abuse and misappropriation of the word, because some (evangelicals in particular) throw the word around with such frequency.  But those who do not use the word are not necessarily any more enlightened.  I've seen generous, merciful, and just people in the Church and outside of its bounds.

    I keep thinking of the Prison Ministry posts.  How you witnessed such grace by a "stronger" inmate toward his weaker "cellie."  I find the same thing with my nursing home Bible fellowship.  It is my favorite part of the week, spending time with them.  Pure joy.  I keep trying to analyze why that set of people and my fellowship with them is so markedly different from so many other interactions in my life?  I wonder if you have had similar thoughts and experiences with your Prison Bible Fellowship, and what you attribute this to?  Thanks for everything that you've done here on ET.

  5. Personally, I just LOVE the divergence of opinion on here (and on other similar blogs), in fact, I’d say that it’s the very stuff of Christianity...
    All of the most vital theology was born out of dialogue, disagreement and the furnace of conflict.
    Surely everyone is allowed an opinion and, as I teach my pupils here at school, if someone disagrees with you – thank them for enabling you to engage with an alternative position.
    If we don’t foster unity in diversity we are left with the moribund stasis of stagnant little groups of like-minded folks blandly affirming each other’s propositions.
    Give me the offence and challenge of healthy, respectful conflict any day – the only option seems to be to remove oneself to various levels of monastic existence – whether literal or metaphorical.
    This, as you will appreciate, is my opinion. It is only mine and I don’t really need anyone else to affirm or confirm it. It will remain my position until I am convinced otherwise...
    To be brutally frank, I would suggest to any gentle-soul who might be offended by people having divergent opinions that the internet is the very last place that they ought to be...
    With warmest respect from a beautiful, sunny and radiant England J

  6. Wow, I love this.  I'm usually not a fan of poetry, but I'm amazed at how few words it took to capture such a profound truth about the grace of God.  

    On a side note, one of my favorite conversations in Sunday school was regarding Ephesians 5:18:  "Do not get drunk on wine...but instead be filled with the Spirit."  Somehow, the conversation turned more toward dissipation than drunkenness, toward the idea of how we squander and waste so many of the blessings that God gives us.  This poem reminds me of that discussion.  How many glimpses of the kingdom do I miss because of my own dissipation?  

    And what an amazing God, who still gives us these blessings!

  7. Martyn, the divergence and expression of opinion is not the issue that I'm raising.  It is the labeling of a person, based on one's judgment of them -- be it correct or incorrect -- as morally bad or good, that I take issue with.  More often than not, these judgments cannot possibly be based on a full knowledge of the individual (especially on the Internet / digitally-connected interaction), but arise more from one's own preconceived notions of a given view or behavior.  We all have our "lenses" through which we view the world, don't we.

    Instead of sharing from our own places of weakness and vulnerability, and being received without personal attack, so that we are enabled to freely and fully hear the other's perspective -- unavoidably derived from their own life experiences, whether they be ones of victory, success, or from failures, fears, and fallenness, the minute personal attacks (you can call it healthy disagreement and engagement with alternative propositions, if you want) begin, most people will become instinctively defensive and withdraw.  How is that helpful, except for the one who is the more skillful debater?

    You are right, in that we all have the choice whether to subject ourselves to it or not.  And the way we treat others in response is a choice, too.  Ironically, withdrawing to one's moribund stasis of monastic existence, as you put it, is itself a crime against humanity.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't, Martyn.  Just sayin'.  The sun also shines on our little corner of the earth today.  God's gracious gifts are available to all, it would seem...Peace, my divergent-thinking brother?.

  8. "This, as you will appreciate, is my opinion. It is only mine and I don’t really need anyone else to affirm or confirm it. It will remain my position until I am convinced otherwise... "

    That is what the best opinions are made of -- personal conviction... not majority consensus.

    Well said Martyn.

  9. Well, of course Jesus had to do it quietly in the back. If they'd known about it they would have whined about how it was a terrible vintage with insufficient time to age and not appreciating it for what it was.

  10. Yes, Jim731, you are right.  In the end, that is what it comes down to, isn't it.  Our opinions, views, and choices can only be shared from a context of where we've been and where we are at any given point in time.  "I think", or "I feel" statements might be cheesy to those in-the-know about a particular matter, but at least it conveys the sense that this is what I believe or have experienced.  Have I conveyed the impression that I am demanding others to affirm or confirm *my* position?  If so, then I am sorry for that misunderstanding.  I have been adding too much of my opinion to the conversation?  Too sarcastic or cynical?  It would be helpful if, as Martyn so elaborately obliged, those who have been offended by me would be straightforward as to specifically the source of my sin.  As it is increasingly apparent that I have committed an egregious offense.

  11. Susan, I wasn't responding to anything you said, just to the generality of Martyn's statement. I always appreciate reading your opinion and did not feel that you were being demanding, sarcastic, or cynical.... only sincere and honest (and perhaps sick and tired of hearing all the judgment that comes from the church and elsewhere?). I do sense more than a little bit of frustration on your part, but I also completely understand it as I have experienced it myself. I certainly agree with you that we should never "label" anyone as good or bad, especially since we do not have full knowledge of them -- that was a great point on your part. Go get yourself a smoothie, put your feet up, and relax. As always, peace to  you.

  12. Oh, good.  Thanks, Jim731.   You have hit the nail on the head, in that I am frustrated and weary at the moment.  I went just a while ago to pick up my teen daughter from a service project with her honor society group, and didn't have anything to read until she came out...found a Lenten devotional in my purse about the desert (eremos -- Greek def.: uninhabited, lonely, with no human population.)  The closing thought was this:  "The truth is that we must simply learn to live in the desert, must try to remain oriented toward God as we go on through the misery.  The divine presence is not the way out of the desert, it is the way through the desert.  Remain attentive to God, stay utterly dependent on God -- this is the lesson of the desert..."

    Great!!  Coincidentally, I was giving serious consideration to just being an atheist and getting it over with!  I'm thinking in reality, yep.  Desert.  Misery.  Constant sorrows.  I hope there are no really depressed people reading, because I'm certainly no dang help today.  D'oh!  Peace be with you, too, Jim731.

  13. Hi Susan, Responding to your comment below "because I'm certainly no dang help today." ...To those who are hurting, "Weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn" is much more consoling than a bunch of bright-side God's-in-control hoopla, typical of Summer Christian/extroverted churchianity. The desert is a lonely place, but it seems to have a pretty big population nonetheless.  We just don't find each other out except online. Hope you can get some rest, friend. 

  14. Hello Susan N.
    "I was giving serious consideration to just being an atheist and getting it over with!  I'm thinking in reality, yep.  Desert.  Misery.  Constant sorrows.  I hope there are no really depressed people reading, because I'm certainly no dang help today."

    I get you Susan N..  I've fallen behind the last several weeks, trailing about a half mile behind all of you in this desert.  However, I remain within ear-shot of what you're all saying.  It continues to help me a lot. 
    Seriously, I'm wondering if I'm on the verge of becoming (if I'm not already) an Ex-Christian. 
    Dr. Beck and all of you continue to encourage me.   Patricia's really, really cool isn't she?
    A few times, I'll catch up to you guys and Patricia's the first person I tap on the shoulder just to say hi.
    Just to let you know Susan N. - feelin' you.
    Gary Y.

  15.  Ummm, was just sharing a thought or two... Always hard without knowing the other folk involved isn't it? Preconceptions and misconceptions will inevitably muddy the water. No offence whatsoever intended...

  16. The more interesting facet of this fable from John 2 is in verse 4 in which Jesus scolds his mother because his time had not come. Very odd. Nevertheless, what follows is allegedly Jesus' first sign which, as the text clearly states , was intended as a display of his glory. This and other signs reinforced a belief and a followership. Miracles leads to belief. Conveniently , miracles have ceased and mankind is expected to have faith in spite of contradicting evidence. Every believer has yearned for a miracle at one time or another yet god is silent. To top it off, god eternally punishes non believers for lack of faith despite the fact he is silent. So, this story from John is not about a subtle sign missed by some . It and the following signs were created to instill belief. Have a great day !

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