Monday, January 20, 2014

Sermon for 1/19/14--Epiphany 2



Do Whatever He Says

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

They didn't need more wine. Rare indeed is the man who needs more wine! Some of them would surely abuse it and get drunk. Who knows what evil would result from more wine. Whatever it was that Mary was hoping for, she was denied at first. Jesus did not offer to run to the liquor store. He did not commiserate about the sadness of a poorly planned wedding or an embarrassed couple. He did not even tell her that good Christians don’t drink. He simply told her that her concern was beneath Him; her request trivial in the face of His looming betrayal, suffering, and death.

But her response to this rebuke couldn't be better. She believed. Despite the rejection she believed that Jesus was good, that Jesus would help her and the couple in some way. That is what Jesus does. That is who Jesus is. He is always rescuing people. So despite the rejection she believes. She believes that nothing, nothing of her concern, is outside of His concern, that no request she makes is trivial, and that He hears and answers her every prayer. With perfect faith she gives the servants the best advice in the world: "Do whatever He says." And what a surprise He has in store.

He gives them wine like the world has never known. It was a huge amount, somewhere between 600 and 900 bottles. As to the quality, we can only imagine, though we know it was better than the "good" wine the bridegroom used for their "champagne toast."  He gave them good wine, and that an awful lot of it, more than they could consume in a single night. God gives His gifts in abundance for them to enjoy them, knowing that some may abuse them, some may not appreciate them. He never gives His gifts so we'll attach a plaque and send a thank you note. Jesus was not there for pleasure. He never went anywhere merely for pleasure. Wherever Jesus went, He was there to serve. He does not do these things because it makes Him feel good to help. He does them because we have need, because He would see us enjoy the blessings of creation. He was not in Cana to enjoy Himself. He was there to give His blessing, to provide wine, to supply daily bread in all its forms.

To this day we rightly pray with Mary, "They have no wine." We pray: "This life is hard. I’m sad. I’m so tired. I’m weak and frustrated. I’m angry. I wish I had a million dollars, a vacation home in the Hamptons, a Camaro, a video game room. I wish, O God, I was happier. I wish my classmates were nicer, my job was easier, the traffic less dense. I wish there was more wine." And what does God say to our selfish prayer? More often than not, it seems that He says "No," for we do not have these things. Does He ignore us? No. He never ignores His beloved for whom He laid down His life. He will do what is good and right. He will surprise you. Pray away, in boldness and confidence. And if it seems He holds out for now, do not despair. Your heart's richest desire awaits you in His eternal presence.

God is good. He knows what you want. He knows what you need. He will not fail. You will have wine. Your heart will be glad—if not now in all the fullness you desire, then in the Kingdom to come. In the meantime, while you wait, with the rebuke still in your ear, remember Mary's charge. "Do whatever He says." What He says is: "Take, eat. Drink ye all of it. Do this in remembrance of Me." Eat the Body of Jesus. Drink His Blood. Hear the Word of absolution and have the balm of His resurrection applied generously to your heart.

The servants know who turned the water into wine. The disciples believed. They know who is responsible for the joy and gladness, for the gifts enjoyed by men. It is Mary's humble Son, Jesus, who fulfilled the Scripture in their hearing. The servants know. The disciples believe. God grant us always to be numbered among them. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen. 

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