When I was a child, we used to play Hide and Seek. The seeker would shade their eyes and count to 100 and then call out “Coming, ready or not”. And those who hadn’t yet found a hiding place had to hurry and tuck themselves up behind a curtain.
Coming, ready or not.
You know things are going to happen, but you think you’ve got time to get ready, and then you find yourself caught out, because events start rolling before you’re ready for them. That.
You’re expecting guests. You have to whip round with the hoover, bake a cake and make a round of sandwiches, and put on tidy clothes. Then there’s a knock on the door. The visitors are early. They are tramping over the wet kitchen floor and demanding tea.
Things start happening, ready or not.
Then there’s the old couple. He’s got cancer and she knows he will die, but she isn’t ready to let him go yet. But he slips away anyway, and she is left bereft. It was too quick, too soon.
Ready or not.
It was early in Jesus’ ministry. John the Baptist had told his followers that Jesus was the lamb of God and Andrew had starting going round with Jesus, and brought in his brother Simon Peter, and Philip and Nathanael had joined the team. Then Jesus had to go back to Galilee for a wedding, and the lads went along as well. We don’t know who the couple were. Jesus’ mother was there, and she seems to be taking some responsibility for the occasion.
Then the wine runs out. Whoops! Why? Did someone miscalculate? Did the extra guests who came along with Jesus tip the balance? Had the grape harvest failed? Was there simply not enough money to get in enough wine? Whatever the reason, it was a great embarrassment. It was shameful.
And Mary says to Jesus: The wine’s run out. And she gives him that look, which means that he’s got to sort this. And you and I might have replied: Mum, I never managed to get to the ATM, and the Offie doesn’t accept plastic. But Jesus is a bit short with Mary: What’s that got to do with us? I’m not ready for this.
What is it that Jesus is not ready for? He isn’t talking about a quick trip to the Off Licence. He says his time has not yet come. Does he mean: the time for helping out with the marriage celebrations, the time for going public, or the time for offering himself as the Lamb of God for the sins of the world? And why isn’t he ready? John has baptised him. Jesus has started gathering the team around him. What’s he waiting for?
Whatever the reason, as you and I know, things start happening, ready or not!
By the door there were six stone water jars. The water was used for washing peoples’ feet as they arrived for the wedding, to purify them, to make them ready to take part in the wedding festivities. Jesus tells the servants to fill up the jars. Each one held up to 30 gallons of water, so that was nearly 180 gallons. And when the jars are full, Jesus tells the servants to serve the wine. The first glass goes to the master of ceremonies who remarks on how good the wine is. Jesus hasn’t just produced wine, he has supplied superb wine. And in great quantity – something like 1,000 bottles. It must have been some party!
For someone who wasn’t ready, that was some party trick!
And the story in the Gospel ends by saying that this was the first time that Jesus revealed his glory. That’s what he wasn’t ready for. The glory of Jesus is not just because he did an amazing miracle and turned water into wine. It’s because the story is so much more than that, a story of many layers, which tells us about how the water of Judaism was just a preparation and the wine of God’s kingdom is the fulfilment. It’s a story in which the heavenly bridegroom attends a village wedding as a guest, and his bride is the people of God coming into the kingdom. The glory of Jesus is like a wedding feast and we are all invited.
So are you coming along, ready or not?
Sometimes Jesus wants us to do stuff. Are you ready or not? When God first nudged me, wanting me to be a priest, I wasn’t ready. God came back a few months later, and I still wasn’t ready, though things had shifted. And the next time God asked me, I said I would, but I wasn’t really ready. And then eventually, God asked me, and I was ready, and I took the next steps, and here I am.
And Jesus wants us to reach out here in Bensham. He wants us to reveal his glory. He wants us to give out the invitations to the banquet of the kingdom of heaven. He wants us to pour out the wine.
And that’s why we are having the Talking Jesus Mission at the beginning of March. The Bishop of Burnley and the Bishop of Huddersfield and their teams are coming along to help us. Bishops will turn up to shine shoes. You will see sofas in strange places where you can sit for a moment and have a conversation. Ordinands from Cranmer will be at the Angel of the North on the Saturday talking to people. We will give out the angels that people are kindly knitting for us – in order to start of a conversation about the big things, the things that really matter to people, the questions about what life is all about.
And God wants you to be part of this. Can you knit – knit us some angels. Invite people along to some of the events that are taking place. Bring friends and family to the special church service on the Sunday morning. Bringing people along is really really important. It could make all the difference – to them, and to you.
Jesus said he wasn’t ready, but he did it anyway, and the people who were there at that wedding got a foretaste of the banquet of the kingdom of heaven. We are never ready, never ready for the next step, never ready to get closer to God, never ready to do what God wants. Do it anyway.
Jesus is coming, ready or not.