In pm's words
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January 18, 2016, 9:00 AM

the one about God's abundance and our time...


Sermon from January 17, 2016

Sermon Text: John 2: 1-11

Grace and peace to y’all from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, whenever this text comes up I usually have two reactions. First; if I talked to my mom the way that Jesus does in this text – I wouldn’t be your pastor. I’d probably be six feet underground somewhere. Second, how on earth can anyone think that wine is bad or that Jesus was ‘against’ the drinking of alcohol; when Jesus himself made some of the best wine ever out of mere water. Again, those are my usual reactions.

But, as I’ve mentioned previously what amazes me most about scripture and about the continued diving into scripture through prayer and discussion with others is how each reading can speak to us in different ways. That there are times (more frequently than most of us would care to admit) where different things become clearer to us or we feel a different interpretation about something within the text because of where we are in our life. It is probably the biggest reason I can give for the continued reading and continual study of our beloved scriptures.

As I read this very familiar passage and story from John’s gospel and was also in discussion about it with some colleagues this past week, I was captured by the notion of ‘time’ and grace.

Whenever we talk about God’s will or God’s plan the timeframe that our Lord operates on is much different than the one we do. Classically pastors and theologians will call this the difference between Kairos and Chronos – God’s time vs. our time.

There’s a joke that I really like that does a great way of explaining those differences…

A man gets the opportunity to speak to God and asks, “Lord what is a million years to you?” God replies, “For me a million years is as if only a second passes…” The man then asks, “And what is a million dollars to you?” God responds, “Only a penny my son.” Finally, the man is bold to ask, “Can I borrow a penny?” And God says, “Sure, just give me a second…”

As we notice in our readings this morning – God’s ‘kairos’ is playing the long game. The vision and plan that God has in store for creation is not one for the faint of heart or the one who expects something to happen immediately. God doesn’t work like that. Which many of us will exhale a sigh of frustration.

That’s not the world in which we operate. We expect the immediate gratification of our wants and desires. We’ve become so accustomed to the ‘fast paced’ lifestyle that the modern world offers that we become frustrated when the websites we go to don’t load quite as fast, or the traffic in the other lane appears to be moving slightly quicker, where we get to the ATM in order to get our ‘fast cash’ withdrawal and the person in the car in front of us seems to be depositing every check known to man – and now they dropped their ATM card! Bah! We live in a world that doesn’t like to wait. So God playing the long game seems so counter to what we’d want and need.

So, as I was reading the story of Jesus’ first sign at the wedding of Cana I focused a lot on those servants that Jesus’ mom and Jesus himself speaks to. And, my first thought was – what did they think. Seriously, how would you respond if you were put into that same position as these servants?

Let me set it up for you. You’re at a wedding (obviously). The not-so-great wine runs out and the people are starting to get antsy. This older woman approaches you and says, “Do whatever my son tells you to fix this.” Alright, he shouldn’t ask for anything too crazy right?

Wrong.

His command to you – you see those six huge stone jars? Yeah – the ones that hold literally gallons of water in them. Yeah, those ones – fill them up.

What? Are you kidding me? Do you know how long that will take? Hoses and pressurized water placement devices haven’t been invented yet. That’s up to 180 GALLONS of water. That’s what you want us to do? Really? Really? Not to mention the time to walk and the struggle to CARRY that water from over there to here – we do live in a desert wilderness, sir. It isn’t like water is so easily attainable here.

I’m guessing that many of us - if faced with a similar situation - would probably feel the same way.

It’s too much. It’s too long. Is it even worth it?

Remember – God plays the long game.

Yes, the work that we are called to do may be long, it may be more than what others would expect. But, it is worth it.

I see that in the ministry we get to live out here at Redeemer and in our lives. That when we see the ‘goal’ we feel God calling us towards we get side-tracked by what seems to be the immense obstacles in our way. The length of time that we must wait and work through to get to where God is calling us. The burden of carrying and lifting during grueling times as Jesus calls us to do ‘this’ for the church, or the community, the youth, the kids, the seasoned in age, and more.

Yet, when we’ve finished those times and strive through those adventures we get to see what God envisioned the entire time. We get to experience the abundance of grace…

Another story that I heard this week. In seminary (before my time there) students were asked in a class to make stained glass pieces that depicted their notion of some theological ideas. One particular student was given the task of conveying ‘grace.’

He approached the local fire department and asked if they could open a hydrant for him. They allowed it and the picture he took was of a child, holding a Dixie cup, trying to fill it with the water gushing from a fire hydrant. God’s grace. Abundance. Overflowing love.

That is an image that will sit with you for a while. God’s grace overflowing – forcefully – into the Dixie cup of our lives. So strong and abundant is that grace that it fills us up, knocks us down, and overflows around and in us.

Epiphany calls for us to see where in our lives God has showered us with abundance of grace in our lives just as the guests at this wedding are showered with 120-180 gallons of GREAT WINE.  Where has God filled your life with overflowing love and grace?  Is it in the love of another (whether you know them or not) who from their heart and service gives a hug, some food, maybe a bit of money to you in a time of need.  Is it looking upon your life and seeing that God has given you a particular gift to share with this community of faith and the community at large?  Is that ‘grace upon grace’ as you teach a child to solve a problem and their response is to go and help someone else experiencing the same difficulty?  Look to see where God is showering you with grace upon grace – revealing to you the Glory of the Lord Jesus.

The beauty and wonder of God’s grace is that God continues at it even when we’ve become discouraged or apathetic in our work in it.

Look at all the stories of the ones who complain to God as they are in the midst of their ‘suffering’

How long O Lord? We were better off as slaves in Egypt than to wander around out here forever? You want me to pour water in those things?!

Yet, the free grace that God gives us is that the response is – “Not too much longer. Have faith. Yes. The grace is that I am here – through it all. With you. Let’s get to work.”

Epiphany is that time of year where we see where God is made known to us and how we can make God known to those around us. In the life we live, the work we do, the words we say, the thoughts we bare. That the Spirit of God directs us to continue to point and to be present to the Word made flesh in our lives.

That even through the long game that God plays – even in the stress of the ministry that we are called to live into – God’s overflowing grace surrounds us and washes over us. The over-abundance of love that God blesses each of us with is among us. All of it – all of it – points towards and is a sign to God. Amen.

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