Thursday, January 14, 2010

John 2:1-11 - Sermon - Little Abundance

John 2:1-11

Little Abundance


I loved my wedding. It was so much fun. Not only did I marry a trophy wife but the party was fun too. There are a few moments I can recall with clarity, not because I had too much wine but because it was too much of a blur. There was one fun event I do remember with great clarity. When it came time to remove the garter we had decided to play it up a bit. We were already having fun but as Alycia sat in a chair my best men placed rubber gloves on me and a snorkel and mask. I prepared myself and I lifted up Alycia dress and found her leg under all the tool and stuck my head under it all. The crowd was laughing and cheering and I was into the moment. I also realized I was breathing through the snorkel. This works well when you have your face under the water but not so well when it is under a wedding dress. What happens is that as you breathe in the wedding dress gets sucked into the top of the snorkel, making it impossible to breath. I started to panic a little but then realized to survive all I needed to do was take the snorkel out of my mouth. I did and I gasped for air. But we continued with the fun as I removed a rubber chicken from under her dress.

Weddings are times of celebration and fun. In Jesus’ time the wedding couple did not go on a honeymoon. Instead the groom’s family threw a seven day wedding feast at their house. A seven day, all out party and if you are going to have a good party you want to make sure the caterer doesn’t run out of food and drink. That was not the case for the wedding that Mary and Jesus were invited to in Cana. It seems that on the third day things started to run low. The wine ran out and Mary noticed this.

One of the reasons that people surround themselves with attendants at their weddings is to honor their friends and family but also to provide people who can buffer the bride and groom from the incidents that happen during the wedding. I mean let’s face it, during a wedding anything can go wrong at a moment’s notice. At the rehearsal, I tell all the attendants who are standing up there and the bride and groom to never lock their knees during the ceremony. If you do and you are hot or nervous, you will faint and that won’t be good.

After one rehearsal the groomsmen and the bride maids all tried to distract the bride and groom from an incident in the parking lot. It seems that the husband of the mother of the bride had backed into the car carrying the father of the bride, his mother, and his wife. It was a moment of pure chaos that needed to be avoided in order not to freak the couple out even more. There was another wedding issue at another wedding. The wedding was happening on an island in the middle of the Grandfather Mountain Country Club. It was picturesque except for the fact that it was unseasonably cold, almost 32 degrees out. The bride is standing there with a strapless dress, along with all the bridesmaids, shivering as I am going through the ceremony. The crowd that had gathered just wanted me to get it over with so they could warm up.

Jesus finds himself in a unique place this week. He is a guest but his mother makes him aware of the crisis that is happening in the kitchen. After hearing his mother’s plea to do something about the wine situation he goes on to provide the first sign of seven signs in the Gospel of John. The first miracle Jesus does in the Gospel of John is to keep the party going. Six stone jars are found. Usually they are used in the Jewish rite of purification. These were the rites of people who washed up before eating and also the pots and stuff used to eat. These six stone jars held all the water that was used for this process. The scripture says that each of these jars could hold 20-30 gallons of water. Jesus tells the servants to fill those jars up and then he turns it into the best tasting wine. Just to let you know a regular wine bottle holds 1 liter of wine. Six jars holding 30 gallons would be 180 gallons of wine or 681 bottles. Just think about throwing a party with 681 bottles of wine, that would be one heck of a party, and this is the second round that Jesus sends them out with.

What this miracle shows us who Jesus is. All seven of the signs in the Gospel of John all point to who Jesus is. In the 11th verse we learn what this sign meant. It says, “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” Jesus’ glory was revealed in this act and we learn that the Son of God, the Word made Flesh, brings a blessing the world has never seen. Mary had looked up at her son and said, “We don’t have enough,” and Jesus answered with abundance. Water, a simple everyday material, was transformed into the best tasting wine the master of the banquet had ever tasted.

We also learned that there was really just a private few who knew of this sign. Jesus did not stop the party, call everyone’s attention to himself and then perform the trick for all to see. He wasn’t an ancient David Blaine. The only ones who knew about this miracle were Mary, his Disciples (because it tells us that they had faith in him after this miracle), and the servants who drew the water. Jesus gives abundantly but not out in front for all to see but in the quietness of the backroom.

In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, a woman got off work and started to trek home. She was tired after her long day. Her feet hurt and her bones ached. There was nothing more she wanted than a quiet bus ride back to her quiet house. She sat down in an empty seat and minded her own business as the bus pulled away from her stop. More people got on the bus until it started to get crowded. The woman was asked to get up and give her seat to someone else. She refused. It was a long day and this was a battle she was going to win. At 42 years old, all Rosa Parks did was refuse to get up and move to the back of the bus just because she was black and the person who wanted to sit down was white. It was small act but it changed the landscape of America. Looking back at this moment in time, Rosa Parks says, "I did not get on the bus to get arrested, I got on the bus to go home."[1]

This act started the start of the Civil Rights movement in America and led to the end of the institutionalized segregation in the South. It was because of Rosa Parks that we celebrate the work of another man this weekend, Martin Luther King, Jr. A man who through the abundance of his words changed America for the better. A man who had a dream that we are still attempting to live into even today. A Christian preacher who never stopped preaching the gospel to the American people and it changed this nation.

There is a scientific theory out there called the Chaos Theory. This theory is “namely small differences in the initial condition of a dynamic system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of a system.”[2] You can also hear this called The Butterfly Effect. You may have heard this as “if a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa, the wind generated by those wings ends up creating a hurricane in the Atlantic which then sends destruction to the other side of the world.” It is the small things that end up causing big changes in the world. If you are a fan of time travel you know what I am talking about. In the show Heroes, Hiro Nakamura is a master of time and space. He was learned that the small changes he makes when he goes back and forth in time effect everything. Small changes can lead to huge events. It was one shot but it killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and lead to the First World War It was only a seat on the bus but not getting up started the Civil Rights Movement. It was only six jars of water but the abundance of wine that came out lead to the abundance of love that was then shown on the cross.

The God we worship is a God that takes little things and makes them into big things. A baby in a basket floating down a river turns into a leader who would take his people out of slavery. A child who watched sheep would soon place a rock in a sling and slay a giant. A quiet and talented girl named Ester would show bravery that would save her race. Fisherman doing their jobs would hear the calling of a traveler and help transform a world.

The awesomeness of the God we worship is that nothing is too small. No act is too insignificant. God can use everything to show his glory. If God can use a wedding running out of wine to bring about his plan of salvation, it makes me wonder what little events in my life God is using to transform the world and the people I meet. Are we open to the moments when we can act and then lead to change in our world? Will we respond when disaster strikes a country only 100 miles away from our own? Will we help that woman on the side of the road or will we open our mouths when we feel God stirring our hearts to speak? Will we be open? Will we be ready? Will we be willing to be used by the God who can take a little and make abundance?

And all God’s people said…Amen.

[2] Wikipedia -

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