Formations 01.17.2016: Being a Better Wedding Guest

John 2:1-11

Wedding reception at the Bellevue Hotel, Brisbane, Australia, 1938

Wedding reception at the Bellevue Hotel, Brisbane, Australia, 1938

Danielle Rothweiler is a celebrity wedding and event planner. In a recent Huffington Post article, she comments that going to a wedding ought to be easy. Unfortunately, wedding guests often provoke the greatest stress in the engaged couple. Rothweiler says she can spot the difficult guests as they walk in the door, and sometimes before that.

If you haven’t already made a New Year’s resolution, perhaps you can take Rothweiler’s advice and resolve to be a better wedding guest. She suggests ten things people can do to relieve the stress they might be causing the happy couple (warning: somewhat salty language in the original article):

1. Don’t complain about your seat.
2. Don’t complain about the location.
3. Don’t whine about the day.
4. RSVP when you are supposed to.
5. RSVP correctly and stop adding people on.
6. No guilt trips for the couple.
7. Don’t ask the couple to fix your problem(s).
8. Be on time.
9. Keep your cell phone cameras out of the way of the paid photographer.
10. Do not cause a scene.

Rothweiler spells out why these rules are important and how following them can truly be a gift to the couple getting married. She concludes,

Weddings are the ultimate party. It is a true celebration of love and how two people, in this mess of a world, found each other. That’s why you’re there. Sure there’s drinking and dancing involved and the couple wants you to have fun. Resolve to be a better wedding guest, especially if any of the above 10 sounds uncomfortably familiar.

Some of Rothweiler’s rules apply specifically not to the wedding ceremony itself but to the reception afterwards. And unsurprisingly, alcohol features in several of her wedding horror stories. At the wedding in Cana in John 2, we hear nothing of people getting out of hand and causing a scene because they didn’t know their limits. Thank goodness for that! But alcohol still managed to create a problem that might have stressed or at least embarrassed the happy couple.

The caterer ran out of wine. Let’s not ponder whether Jesus bringing several of his disciples along had anything to do with that. (See rule #5 above.) At least someone had the good sense not to trouble the couple with the matter (rule #7). After a conversation with his mother, Jesus resolves the problem by creating an abundance of wine—the best the guests had ever tasted.

Danielle Rothweiler, “Resolve to Be a Better Wedding Guest,” The Huffington Post, 6 Jan 2016


• What is the best party you ever attended? What made it so special?
• When have you observed weddings turn into disasters? When have you seen wedding disasters averted?
• What does Jesus mean when he says his time has not yet come (v. 4)?
• How does this miracle reveal Jesus’ glory?
• What about this incident prompted his disciples to believe in him?

Reference Shelf

Wine in the Bible

In a region subject to devastating droughts, wine conveyed life and health. The image is famously invoked by Psalm 23: ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows’. Human blessings and divine covenants promised an abundance of wine (Gen. 27.26-29; Deut 7.12-16); God punished disobedience by withholding grapes and wine (Deut 28.39, 51; Joel 1.10). Wine was a sign of restoration, and the prophets described mountains that would drip with wine when God acted to save his people (Amos 9.13; Joel 3.18). Isaiah envisioned ‘a feast of well-matured wines’ on Mount Zion (Isa. 25.6)….

Jesus builds upon the images of covenant-making and banquets in his celebration of the Last Supper, describing the wine cup as his blood of the covenant (Luke 22.20), a cup that he would not drink again until he drank it ‘new in the Kingdom of God’ (Mark 14.25)….

Kyle D. Potter, “Wine,” Dictionary of the Bible and Western Culture, ed. Mary Ann Beavis and Michael J. Gilmour (Sheffield UK: Sheffield Phoenix, 2012), 599.

The Reaction to the Miracle

When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, he called the bridegroom and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first; and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” The steward’s words of admonishment about a breech in social propriety function in addition at the level of religious meaning. The good wine that Jesus supplies surpasses the benefits promised and provided by the Jewish purification rites. The wine (religious reality) made available by the events of Jesus’ hour fulfills Jewish purificatory ritual. This miracle of water into wine is called a sign (v. 11). It is an act that points beyond itself to spiritual reality. It manifests Jesus’ glory (that which makes him impressive to others, here, God’s power). The disciples, unlike the steward of the feast, see his glory and believe in him (v. 11b; cf. 1:14). The miracle story of 2:1-11 functions as the fulfillment of the prophecy of 1:51 (cf. 2:11). A reading of 1:19–2:11 reveals that the whole is tied together with the same care with which the individual units are composed.

Charles H. Talbert, Reading John, rev. ed. (Macon GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2005), 89.

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


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