Empty Jars & Transformation.

I don’t really know how transformation works. It’s a mystery of how time carries and our interiors are rearranged. How one year we have one opinion and a few years later, we are on the other side of the same issue. Or, how we start out stingy never sharing and then become increasingly generous.  I suppose some people don’t really seek after transformation. Or, maybe they look back and see how things are different than they used to be, but they don’t think much of it.

For me, transformation is imperative. Growth, shifting, evolving, changing, whatever you want to call it, is fascinating. There are times when big, life-altering events happen in our life and we crash head first into the opportunity for transformation. And, then, there are the slight, every day nuanced opportunities for a tiny step in a new direction. Either way, a door opens. Then, it shuts. We have a chance to cross the threshold, to embark into a new way of being, a new way of seeing. Or, we can stand firm in our own way.

I love this one story about Christ found in the book of John, Chapter 2. It’s about Jesus at a wedding. He and his mother are two of the many guests at this celebration. Clearly, this is a big day for the bride and groom. A new chapter of their life is beginning. A life-altering step in a new direction. In the midst of this grand gathering, the wine runs out. For Jesus, this was not a particularly huge crisis. However, for the bride and groom, running out of wine would’ve been quite an embarrassment among friends and family. So, Mother Mary asks her son to help fix this detail, and his response was more or less, “Why are you bringing me into this; it’s not my time.” But, in response to his mother’s nudging, Jesus abides and asks the servants to fill six stone water jars (each able to hold 20-30 gallons) to the brim with water. Plain, simple, ordinary water. When the servants bring the cup to the master of the banquet, he tastes high-quality wine. The presence of Christ transformed 150 gallons of water to an overflowing, abundance of wine!

What I find so interesting is that Christ never touches the water. It is the servants who dip the cup in and the master who willingly tastes not knowing where the wine came from. In this, I find how the presence of Christ IS transformation. I wonder, “Would the transformation have taken place if the stone containers had been full?” It seems the jars need to be empty in order to be filled with water. Then, in Christ’s presence, the water changed from ordinary goodness to sacred abundance.

Because I desire transformation in my life, there is much I take away from this beautiful story. For one, a story like this helps me consider how I can empty (or open) myself for the things of God. Is opening myself to ordinary goodness the first step? The warm, clean water I shower with every day. The smiling face of my nearly eight year old. The taste of fresh vegetables as they come into season. I know when I’m already filled with dismal thoughts or my own agenda or my own “right” way of living, there is “no room at the inn.” But, those moments when I’m open to where I am, to hearing others, to another viewpoint, a shift occurs. Many days, it is one step forward and three steps back. However, in this opening myself to ordinary goodness, something mysterious occurs.

For example, I used to avoid eye contact with people. It wasn’t on purpose, it’s just that, out of my own insecurity, or fast-paced life, or lack of interest, I didn’t connect with people’s eyes. But, lately, I’ve been compelled to look into the eyes of those I’m with. I notice when I’m focused and thinking of myself, little eye contact occurs. However, when I’m open to the here and now, eye contact comes naturally.  This is a simple thing. And powerful. I’m finding the more I look in people’s eyes, the more I “see” them. I see beyond their clothes, their opinions, their skin color, their status. Instead, I simply see a child of God. There are plenty of days I shut the door on this opportunity. But, it’s a shift. And, the mysterious thing is, there is a sacred abundance unfolding. As I make more and more eye contact, my love seems to grow greater for the humanity of the world. This type of transformation can only come from the presence of Christ.

Yes, the Spirit of Christ is within us and around us. The Spirit of Christ is patiently waiting to transform the stuff of ordinary. The ordinary that surrounds us every day. Ordinary garbage. Ordinary school days. Ordinary conversations. Ordinary chores. Ordinary work. Ordinary weather. Ordinary nature. When we open ourselves up to ordinary goodness, Christ’s presence meets us to mysteriously transform the ordinary to sacred abundance.

The difficult part is receiving and tasting from the cup when it is handed to us.

To Ponder:
“…and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.”

John 2:

Reflect upon a time when you received and tasted the goodness of the unknown.

Dinner Conversation:
Discuss a thought, opinion or viewpoint you used to have that has opened and expanded in belief.

With Children:
Imagine a wild story about what happens in the cocoon of a caterpillar.


  1. Kristen Rietkerk

    Phil 3:10-11 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

    I’m not sure HOW this transformation thing works but I do know that the Apostle Paul is adamant that he was still striving toward that goal…and if he, the most righteous of the righteous found that it was a life-long journey, then I can trust that the same is for me, and you and all of us.

    1. Sometimes, a verse is sited and I can’t believe it’s written in God’s Word. By taking it out and highlighting it, the beauty of it rises… this is exactly how I feel about Phil 3:10-11. Just wonderful! The mystery of pursuing the resurrection and the mystery of transforming… may we all continue to press forward knowing this is what brings LIFE!

  2. Roger Simmons

    I love this story of Jesus making the party better-more fun, pleasant, joyful-whatever adjective you want to use. I particularly like that this wine was the best wine! I believe how the ordinary watery life of humans becomes the best rich, full wine or our lives when we “see” Jesus and ask for His help with the ordinary in our lives.

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