Two of this Sunday’s readings (Isaiah 62:5, John 2:1-11), use a bridegroom motif to expand our understanding of God. Jesus’s first miracle the act of a good bridegroom, supplying wine, not just any wine but good wine, better wine, enough wine as the festivities go on, and in Isaiah we have the joy of God’s union with us portrayed as that of a bridegroom on his wedding.
These motif’s came to life for me this year, when my eldest daughter married, a miracle amongst lockdowns in itself, but my new son-in-law showed me excitment and keeness for all to participate in and enjoy the day. Within, my family of origin, weddings were solomn affairs, everything must be just so and the weightiness of what we were taking on, all my siblings experienced this weight, it’s heaviness was well known, so that joy is possibly not a discription I would have used for a wedding, and therefore when we reach these readings every 3 years, until this year I had not taken hold of the excitment in the bridegroom motif of God’s love for us.
With weddings over the last 2 years, defered or restricted in their pagentry, along with the increase in the numbers getting married rather than living together. I wonder how many children listening to these readings this week may also miss the joy in the Isaiah reading and only hear of the responsibility in the John reading? Though as more children are attending their parents marriages these days maybe they may understand this motif fully. As I am writing this the bells of the church behind my house are ringing for another couple as they exchange vowels.
My son-in-law took it upon himself to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves, he took that side seriously but not at the expense of the joy for the day. In doing so he opened my eyes to God’s excitment in being reconciled to us.
Sharing this excitment with our children is as important a lesson as any, but they may need to find it in another motif, something they do understand, like a birthday. That is ok, because like me, one day they may be shown deeper insights into these readings, they just need a starting place. So open up those old wedding albums or photos of weddings from the past and talk about the joy they may have been experiencing that day.
In my meditations, I started to wonder what else we miss out on because we are not ready. Who did we leave behind during the pandemic, did we care for our families spiritual needs or languor in the decision that if we can’t have Sunday School what else can we do for them. But what now? Do we still see our Children’s spiritual formation in terms of returning to what we did prior to the commencement of the Pandemic or have we moved too and are looking at the new things we learnt and which we still need to make new (like the wine). After the Spanish Flu, in Australia anyway, Sunday School teachers went from paid workers to volunteers. The Sunday School movement itself is only 250 years old. Martin Luther was extolling the importance of home faith formation 500 years ago, and in the first centuries we have example of all age worship breakfasts. Different ages, different interpreations of Children’s Faith Formation. New wine, tastier wine, where is this pandemic taking our Children’s Faith Formation?
I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.