Google “How much food should I cater for a wedding?” and you’re apt to find a rule known as the the “25 to 50 Rule.” This formula suggests feeding 50 to 75 percent of your anticipated guest count. But the answer I discovered also included the disclaimer, “Don’t forget to count your guests and their guests.”
As we begin our new series, Water into Wine, we follow the adventures of the main character of Angela Hunt’s novel, Daughter of Cana, a woman named Tasmin. Writing in the first person of the main characters, Tasmin, along with Jude, younger brother of Jesus, we learn about Jesus through the witness of two persons standing outside the main crowd following Him. We explore the same stories we find in scripture from an almost uncomfortable distance.
Is this really what most people living during that time thought about Jesus?
As Tasmin’s story begins, she and her brother are catering a wedding in the village of Cana. Their father owns a date farm, and Tasmin is famous for the delicious desserts she makes using dates harvested from her father’s trees. She also knows how to cook for a crowd and host a party. But Tasmin prefers staying in the background, ensuring every guest eats well and is satisfied.
Tasmin is noteworthy for another reason. Like numerous women referenced in scripture, her name never appears. Tasmin comes out of the imagination of the author, Angela Hunt, who chose to give a name to a subtle reference that this person exists.
Tasmin’s twin brother is Thomas. Yes, the same Thomas whose name does appear in scripture fifteen times. However, to know that Thomas had a twin, we presume that John mentions that Thomas was called “the twin” as a reference to an unmentioned sibling. Angela simply chose to assume that the reason his twin isn’t mentioned is that his twin was a she. And women are often unnamed in scripture.
This week’s message is inspired by the first four chapters of Angela’s book, which takes us through five days of a weeklong wedding celebration. Tasmin sarcastically estimates there isn’t enough wine in all of Cana for such a large number. The bride and groom substantially underestimated how many guests would bring other guests, expecting to be fed.
A family from Nazareth grabbed center stage in Tasmin’s worry about the guest list. Mary, the widow of Joseph, was a relative of the couple and an invited guest. Her children accompanied her, as expected. But what wasn’t in the wedding plans was the additional guests invited by Mary’s oldest son, Yeshua.
In a Q&A article about her book, Angela Hunt shared that she used a combination of names transliterated from Greek and Hebrew. For example, Yeshua is a transliteration of the Hebrew name found in ancient manuscripts for Jesus, which comes out of a root word meaning “to rescue.”
Tasmin takes an immediate interest in Yeshua, but for reasons that may differ from your expectations. Nevertheless, their connection is foreshadowed by the first time that they notice each other:
“In a sudden silence, Yeshua shifted and his gaze caught mine. I stiffened, momentarily embarrassed to be caught staring, and lowered my eyes. I thought he would do the same, but when I lifted my head, he was still staring, with the suggestion of a smile on his lips. He nodded, almost imperceptibly, as if we shared a secret.”
The secret they share will have to wait. Like every good novel, the author methodically unveils their character as the plot unfolds. And families often have the inside scoop on the nature of other family members. But there isn’t a lot to go on in scripture regarding how the family of Jesus saw their loved One.
This week’s theme scripture provides fodder that feeds Tasmin’s interest in Yeshua. An interest motivated by a combination of emotions resulting from the fascination that Thomas demonstrates toward him. She and Thomas were not only born on the same day to the same mother. They were best friends and business partners. Thomas had duties and responsibilities that he put aside to spend time with his new friends, Andrew, Simon Peter, Nathanael, James, and John, listening to every word from Yeshua.
Pretending to be cleaning up after dinner, Tasmin eavesdrops on a conversation when Yeshua is not with his brother and the others. “Tell us, James, about growing up with Yeshua?” asked Simon Peter. “We’re like any other family,” came his reply, perhaps a bit irritated by the attention these men gave to his brother even when he wasn’t around.
“There was this one time,” paraphrasing his response. James continues recalling a story later written down by the writer we call Luke. Jesus was twelve, according to Luke, and the family was visiting Jerusalem for the annual Passover Festival. A day after the family left to return home, they discovered that Jesus wasn’t with them.
Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem to continue their search after realizing he wasn’t with the group of travelers returning to Nazareth. Finally, after three days of searching, they found Jesus in the temple. He was sitting with the Torah teachers talking with them about the details of scripture. Even at a young age, Jesus has an uncanny insight into ancient texts.
His parents were worried and exasperated. Jesus questioned their need to search for him. After all, wouldn’t it make sense that he would be in his Father’s house? “Huh?” sums up the parent’s response. Nevertheless, Luke tells us that his mother hid this incident in her heart while waiting for her son’s life story to unfold.
Reading our author’s embellishment, told through the eyes of a younger brother, brings the story to life. When I think about the divinity of Jesus, I’m not at all surprised that Jesus was already teaching religious experts about God a year ahead of when Jewish boys were mitzvahs.
They found Jesus in the Temple, sitting among the teachers of Law, discussing deep questions with them and amazing everyone with his understanding and answers
But the story becomes more personal when I consider that Jesus was also human. How often did I worry my parents by wandering off without their knowledge? In real life, children learn independence, and parent s worry about their safety. And I believe God lived among us, like one of us, to help us make a personal connection.
I invite you to follow along with us during our series. You can obtain a copy of Angela Hunt’s book online, in bookstores, or look for it at the library. Our copies went fast, but you can contact our office if you need help finding a book. The paperback cost on Amazon was $13.69 the last time I checked, but you can find used copies or read an e-version for less money.
You can join us each Sunday in person or online by clicking the button on our website’s homepage – Click here to watch. This button takes you to our YouTube channel. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.
A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to connect@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.
Our series was inspired by and relies on content provided by Angela Hunt. Daughter of Cana. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2020.
Angela Hunt. “Another Q&A,” © INSPIRED BY LIFE … AND FICTION, August 15, 2022. Retrieved from: Link to Article