Sunday, January 27, 2013

For faith... Water becomes wine... wine becomes blood

Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, preached on Sunday, January 20, 2013.

    Jesus ministry moves from one shocking event to another.  From His baptism and the surprise of a voice and a dove... to the Spirit whisking Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan... to a wedding invitation that finds Jesus and some of His disciples at a wedding in Cana of Galilee...  As if that were not an odd progression, in that reception Jesus moves from guest into host.  Who can make sense of it all?  But there is Mary, pondering, and that pondering must have learned something of Jesus because she knows instinctively that Jesus can do something about this problem.
    Although Jesus seems unwilling at first, He proves to be more than up to the task.  He makes a miracle out of nothing at all.  But that is exactly how Jesus operates – He makes something where there was nothing.  It is the miracle of the Word that does what it says.  And that Word is not captive to places like Cana of Galilee.  It is present with us here week after week after week.
    Mary said...  They have no wine.  Like the wedding guests, we complain when hope and joy are gone.  When the sweet wine of kindness and happiness run out.  Like wedding in Cana of Galilee, we face the shame and disappointment of lives where joy has run out and left us with bitterness and pain.  Where has it gone and who can do something about it?  Mary knows.  Bring it to Jesus.  Don't complain about it and make your whole life revolve around the things that are not what you want?  Bring the need to Jesus and let Him lead you through it.
    "Do what he tells you," Mary says to the servants.  She has no idea what Jesus will do but she is confident that what He will do will be enough.  Now there is a trusting faith.  We hardly trust anyone – not even Santa can be trusted to know what we want.  We have to tell him to make sure he gets it right.  Mary trusts Jesus implicitly.  "Do what He says."  So we come to Jesus, not with all our plans and ideas of what could, should, or must happen.  Rather, we come with simple trust.  He will do it.  That is all I need to know.  It is enough for me.
    "The best comes at the end..."  How easy it is to believe just the opposite!  How tempting to think that life is grand for the young and innocent!  Perhaps the great temptation for us is to think of the life God has prepared as a let down or disappointment to the life we would choose for ourselves.  You begin with the good wine and then, when you have rich memories of a wonderful life, you bear the sour wine and bitter taste of disappointment.   
    In other words, it all starts out great and goes down here from there.  But not for Jesus.  The best is not yesterday or today.  The best is yet to come.  As good as this moment is, it pales before our eternal tomorrow and as bad as this moment gets, it lies forgotten in a wonderful future. Everyone else brings the best out at the beginning and waits until senses are dulled so that they do not notice the disappointment.  Not Jesus!
    From Jesus we hear, "Why is this my problem?"  It is not that Jesus is rejecting us and our need.  Rather, Jesus makes it clear He does not have to come to our aid.  He comes as His choice, out of love, following the timetable of His grace and not the time clock of our impatience.
    Where is God when I need Him?  He has never left.  But He acts in the right time, in the fullness of time, and not because we pester Him or demand something from Him.  When Jesus says "My hour has not yet come," Jesus is saying our time is in His hands and He acts in the right moment, in the ripe moment.  We can whine all we want but love moves Jesus to do what is good and right and not what we expect or demand.
    "Take some to the master..."  For a first miracle, water into wine seems anticlimactic.  Besides, only a few people caught what Jesus was doing.  So was it wasted?  Of course not.  Jesus reveals Himself when and where He chooses.  He does not act for effect but for us and our salvation.  He chooses the means as well as the moment – not because He is stingy but because He is merciful, kind, and compassionate.
    This little miracle so few saw and hardly anyone understood still had its desired effect.  The disciples believed on Him.  We think miracles are about magical solutions to terrible problems.  Jesus shows us that miracles are about faith, about believing, about trust.  Still Jesus comes in the little miracle few see and no one understands – the wine become blood and the bread become body, given and shed for us and for our salvation.  In the shrug of our shoulders it shows that we still do not get it or get Him.  Faith sees Him and trusts Him.  Only faith.
    So we pray today that we may see the surprise of grace where Christ has hidden it, the little miracles that call forth faith and deliver to the faithful the gifts and fruits of the cross.  The little miracle is great because it reveals to us a great Savior.  And that is enough to ground us in the great times and for hope in the trying moments.  Amen.


Anonymous said...

You wrote:

"Still Jesus comes in the little miracle few see and no one understands – the wine become blood and the bread become body, given and shed for us and for our salvation. In the shrug of our shoulders it shows that we still do not get it or get Him. Faith sees Him and trusts Him. Only faith."

This is surely not a quick and simple grape juice drinking "toast" to the memory of Christ as is found in the evangelical and non-denominational churches. I wish the LCMS would shout this out from the rooftops: In those churches, there is no self-reflection, no sense of shame, and no begging for forgiveness and for the strengthening of faith during communion time.

Pardon my ignorance, but I do shrug. Could it be argued that even IF the bread and wine were not to undergo a chemical change once inside the body, that somehow all of the spiritual benefits in the classical Lutheran sense are present.

El said...

Exodus 34:14 For you shall worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

God is evil... admit it pastor.

Anonymous said...



Enjoy this book:

Anonymous said...

El does not believe what he posts. He is simply being contrary and attention-seeking. If he were true to his posts, he would not visit, let alone comment, on blogs such as this one.