Filled to the Brim

Filled to the Brim


Rev. Dr. Jeffrey M. Gallagher is the Senior Pastor of the United Congregational Church of Tolland, Chaplain of the Tolland Fire Department and Connecticut State Police, author of the book Wilderness Blessings: How Down Syndrome Reconstructed Our Life and Faith.

Scripture: John 2:1-11 (NRSV)

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Reflection: Filled to the Brim

So I have a confession to make: I don’t see the world like I used to.  Covid has changed so many things in my life, not the least of which, for me, is how I now see the world somewhat anachronistically. 
Let me give you an example.  Over the Christmas holiday I was watching one of television’s greatest traditions—24-hours of A Christmas Story on TBS—and I found myself thinking: are they really going to let those waiters in the Chinese food restaurant sing so close to them?  Where are the masks?  Where is the social distancing?  Shouldn’t they at least be eating outside?  Maybe in one of those inflatable igloo things?
Now of course I know all those questions are irrelevant for a movie set in the 1940s and made in the 1980s.
I know that, and yet, when reading this week’s story of the wedding at Cana I found myself defaulting to a similar line of questioning.  Knowing that this would have been a crowded, multi-day feast, I sat there reading and thinking: Six open vats of wine?  The steward dipping in and sampling some of it?  Was he wearing gloves?  Were the attendees vaxxed?  Boosted?
Again, I know those questions are irrelevant . . . . sort of.
One of the things that makes the gospels timeless for me is that the meaning can be extrapolated and then laid over any place and time we find ourselves in.  No need for a decoder ring—just a willingness to imagine how Jesus might act if he were to share that same message with us here in these dawning days of 2022.
So given that this is a parable, as so many commentators have noted, about extravagance, abundance, generosity, grace, miracles—all things which God promises will be “filled up to the brim” in our lives—what might that look like today? 
A supply of KN95s and Covid testing kits that never runs out.  Wifi that reaches every home with a strong signal and the ability to access it by all, regardless of socioeconomic status.  A conference of churches whose line item for mission exceeds that for oil.
Or maybe: The extravagance to forgive yourself if this is another season in which you just aren’t accomplishing as much as you were hoping.  The understanding that no matter how much this nearly-two-year-pandemic may be impacting your emotional well-being, that you are deeply loved and held by God.  The abundant grace which holds you as you wonder if this new year will deliver on the hope and promise you held for it.
Extravagance.  Abundance.  Generosity.  Grace.  Miracles.  That’s what Jesus wanted to make sure those who were at the wedding knew that God was about.   And the same is true for us—no matter what time and place we’re reading this text from.
May we believe it to be true.  May we receive it as the gift that it is.  And may we drink deeply of it, knowing that whether wine at a wedding or a smiling Chinese duck served on Christmas Day, the water jars of God’s abundance will never run out.


Gracious God, extravagantly, abundantly, generously, gracefully, miraculously, you fill our lives to the brim, every day.  And for that we thank you.  Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at

January Prayers from Rev. Darrell Goodwin:

Rev. Goodwin has asked for special prayers for the month of January as we enter 2022.
Week 1: Lay members and leaders within the SNEUCC
Week 2: All Authorized Ministers and MIDS in all settings of our conference
Week 3: All of our National and Local Covenant Partners
Week 4: All those serving in the capacity of Conference Staff
He also encourages you to continue to pray for first-responders, and healing in our world.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the families and friends of more than 834,000 who have died due to the Covid-19 disease, and all those impacted by increasing numbers of positive Covid cases.
  • For those students whose education is once again in chaos due to changing conditions as a result of the spreading virus
  • For those who have lost someone to suicide

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For the fleeting moments of peace found in a song, a book, a cat on the lap, and the many other times we think "I wish this could last."

 This Week in History:

January 12, 2010 (12 years ago) A massive earthquake hits Haiti, devastating the country. The death toll remains incalculable. Close to 300,000 buildings were destroyed. The nations infrastructure was crippled, leading to problems getting humanitarian aid where it was needed. Cities of refugee tents in tight quarters led to widespread cholera, claiming thousands more lives.

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Jeff Michael Gallagher

the Senior Pastor of the United Congregational Church of Tolland and author of the book Wilderness Blessings: How Down Syndrome Reconstructed Our Life and Faith

January 10, 2022
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