Year C Epiphany 2 John 2
Saving the Best Till Last
Years ago when Johnny Carson was the host of The Tonight Show he interviewed an eight year old boy. The young man was asked to appear because he had rescued two friends in a coalmine outside his hometown in West Virginia. As Johnny questioned the boy, it became apparent to him and the audience that the young man was a Christian. So Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday school. When the boy said he did Johnny inquired, "What are you learning in Sunday school?" "Last week," came his reply, "our lesson was about when Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine." The audience roared, but Johnny tried to keep a straight face. Then he said, "And what did you learn from that story?" The boy squirmed in his chair. It was apparent he hadn't thought about this. But then he lifted up his face and said, "If you're going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus!" The little boy was on to something. Weddings are time of Joy.
At the wedding, which Jesus attended in Cana of Galilee, there was great joy but a problem developed. There was a shortage of wine. Not only was that a social embarrassment, it was also a symbol. For a wedding to run out of wine was an omen that there was little chance of this particular marriage reaching its full potential, maybe joy was not meant for this couple.
So Mary approaches Jesus and asks him to do something. His response? "Why do you involve me woman?" Sounds harsh, so unlike him, and it has long puzzled biblical scholars. But you have to look at this scene in its historical context. Jesus, at this moment, had not performed a single miracle. He was thirty years old and he had just gathered together his disciples. He knows that if he performs a miracle, a clock will start ticking and it will not stop until he gets to Calvary. Crowds will flock; investigators will be dispatched. Is this the appropriate moment? Jesus thus makes his move and gives his first public sign that he is different; he transforms water into wine. It is a crucial moment for Jesus and the disciples. Let's take a look at:
- The Miraculous Sign
- His Glory Revealed
- Their Faith Begun
This Is Where We Came In
Not every movie is bathed in theological symbolism or significance. The Denzel Washington movie, The Book of Eli, the story of the man with the last Bible on planet Earth, is one that is rife with spiritual underpinnings. But perhaps the most lasting mark Eli will make on my life is that I'll never see that word "believe" again without thinking of "Eli" and his story.
There is another movie that will change forever an everyday activity. Once you see this movie, there is no way you can perform this daily rite the same way. The movie is Psycho (1960). The everyday activity is taking a shower.
How many of you know exactly what I mean? How many of you have ever seen this Alfred Hitchcock classic?
Then you know . . . You hear that awful, screechy music. You feel the helplessness and horror of being cocooned in rushing warm water. You shiver at the coming of that unexpected life-extinguishing knife. Notice, you never see any violence. The movie is so scary because everything is masterfully implied by signs and images, not graphically portrayed.
This is the movie by which Director Alfred Hitchcock also transformed the way we watch movies. Before Psycho movie theaters ran the film they were showing on a "loop," repeating the movie over and over without a break. Just as the film itself was on a looping reel that went round and round, so the movie experience was on a looping wheel that went round and round. Film viewers came and went whenever they wanted. There were no lines to get into a movie, or a starting and ending time. You could enter the theater at any time, and leave when they movie "looped" back to where they had started.
This practice is what led to the phrase "This is where we came in." And you always wondered what that meant!
Someone in your party with a good memory would read the signs, get up when they started to see things for the second time, and announce, "Time to go. This is where we came in."
Genius that he was, Hitchcock didn't want audiences to find out the mysterious identity of his Psycho until they had progressed, step-by-step, through his terror-building tension. He also didn't want the problem of late-coming movie-goers fretting for much of the movie how come the marquis star Janet Leigh had not made an appearance. Plus this movie was the first one he funded himself, so he wanted to do everything to insure its success.
So Alfred Hitchcock forced all theaters playing his movie to have set times when the film started, and then empty out the theater until the next showing began. For the first time people had to stand in line to get into a movie. For the first time people could watch the faces and listen to the comments of those walking out of the movie. For the first time, you could be "late" for a movie. Hitchcock made "This is where we came in" obsolete in the movie world.
Defining the moment of a "beginning" was something both Alfred Hitchcock and John the gospel writer had in common...