A church member recently shared with me a story from his trip to the Louvre in Paris. He was mesmerized by the museum, even as someone who was not an art enthusiast.
If you, too, have been to this same world-renowned museum, you were likely eager to see Da Vinci’s famous “Mona Lisa” – but then, like this church member, you were disappointed by the size of it, and by the crowd blocking its view.
You might have even found yourself at the back of the crowd, only to turn around to see a huge, wall-sprawling Venetian painting by Paolo Veronese portraying the Biblical story of the wedding at Cana.
These two masterpieces are housed in the largest room in the museum to accommodate the size of Veronese’s “Wedding Feast at Cana” and the crowds eager to see the Mona Lisa.
In line to see the Mona Lisa, my church member thought the best was yet to come … only to realize that right behind him was the true “best thing yet.” And the painting he saw taught that very lesson.
No one person at that wedding in little podunk Cana, except maybe the mother of Jesus, knew the best was yet to come – there at the wedding, in their lifetime, or in the lifetime of the world. They were celebrating as people do at weddings, unaware that the wine was running out or that they were in the presence of God.
Only the servants and Jesus’ disciples knew the problem and witnessed Jesus’ solution to it: turn an extraordinary amount of water into wine. The chief steward tasted the wine at Jesus’ request and, in bewilderment and delight, exclaimed that what he tasted went against both expectation and tradition: that the best wine was saved for last.
This extravagant and first miracle in John’s gospel is one small revelation of a God who is full of abundance and grace, whose actions point to the reality that the best is still yet to come.
Some of you might have had experiences like seeing the magnificent “Wedding Feast at Cana” in the Louvre after thinking “Mona Lisa” was the best yet to come. Some might think that you’ve gotten your hopes up too many times in your career, life, or love to keep hoping the best yet is just around the corner. Some might think the best is behind you, now that your kids and grandchildren are grown and the love of your life has passed.
There are many reasons we choose not to hope, but for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as the one who turned water into wine, the one who healed the sick, the one who gave a place of belonging to the outcast, the one who died on a cross and surprised everyone by rising from the dead – we know to trust this one who tells us that indeed the best is yet to come.
And we are reminded of this truth in small and magnificent and ordinary ways … like unexpectedly turning around to witness a masterpiece. May the small unexpected joys in life, whether a painting, a delectable dessert, or a conversation with a stranger, all be reminders that for you and for me and for the world, that thanks be to God – the best is yet to come.
Stephanie Dion is the associate pastor at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church in Bluffton. LowcountryPres.org