2nd Sunday after Epiphany
January 17, 2016
John 2: 1-11
I’m always worried that there won’t be enough. Enough time to get everything done just the way I want it, enough money to cover the basics of my life and the pretty things that make it all seem worthwhile to me.
Every ad, every political pitch plays to my fear that I will be left out, not have enough, be denied what I need to make life sweet.
The Gospel writers knew perfectly well that if we wanted to know about salvation, Jesus would have to do something spectacular right away. So in all the Gospels, Jesus starts off with something that shows God’s abundance. In Marks’ Gospel, he heals a man with an evil spirit, and in Luke, he sits down in the Synagogue and declares a year of Jubilee. And here in John, he produces the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of wine – enough to last through the wedding and into the next few years.
In this little, working-class town that has never been found by historians, Jesus comes to party with his friends. Putting on a wedding is a big deal. The party goes on for days and people expect to eat and drink the whole time. It’s an embarrassment to run short, something that will dog your relationships with your family and your village your whole life. So this is a story of salvation, and of grace. Mary observes that things are not going well, and knows just what to do. She turns to Jesus, who can fix this for their friends. At her urging, he acts quietly to create the abundance needed for this couple to thrive. Remember that those jars held twenty or thirty gallons! And the wine was no Two-Buck Chuck, it was the best of the party. Remember too, that no one but the servants knew what was going on, Jesus was able to correct the human failure with a word.
We’ve been schooled to think of salvation as what happens to us at the end of our life when we are whisked up to heaven to be with Jesus forever. But the Gospels tell a different story. Salvation is an every-day event, the sweetness of life sneaking into to a world that wants us to believe that there will never be enough. It goes by many names in our tradition: grace, abundance, salvation, generosity, mercy. It is how God blesses us regularly, not just in forgiving our sin, but in surrounding us with material blessing in so many forms.
When I was self-employed, I was always worried about money, because I never got paid on time. I think my landlord calculated every month how much more it would cost to move me out than to wait for the rent check. As I was confessing my deep fear of failing to continue to support myself and my girls, my friend Charlotte took my hand and said, “Don’t worry. That’s one thing I have that can help you.” I never needed to take her up on her offer, but just knowing it was there was such a huge relief when everything else felt like it was crumbling around me. I came to believe that Charlotte was God’s way of answering my desperate prayers by assuring me that there would be a way for me to continue. I’m guessing that you have stories too, of salvation and abundance coming from unexpected places to assure you that you are not alone, not left to struggle forever, and not praying into a void. The resources you need are there, because God is generous, not just with love, but with what we need to thrive. So take a minute to think about the ways that God has sent sweetness into your life when you thought all was lost. Write a word or phrase down on your bulletin to keep you mindful of that story.
We’ll be talking about our budget next Sunday, and this is where the sense of abundance and scarcity touch down in our ministry. Could it be that when we think about all the blessings that have been poured out on this ministry that we will remember the generosity that has made it possible for us to function in the past? Through the hardest times, God was faithful in the lives of the people who are part of this ministry, and Our Savior’s was able to continue. Some are able to give monetary gifts, but many are not, and so they contribute what they can, by supplying materials, by providing services. John the Evangelist calls Jesus’ miracles ‘ signs.’ They are the acts that point to a God who is listening to our needs, generous with the gifts we need when we need them, and gracious in answering swiftly. We don’t have to worry, we don’t have to be afraid; we only need to be faithful in recognizing the gift we receive and using it with joy, sharing our blessings.
God’s love is not just enough to squeak by, it is lavish to us who are totally undeserving. Jesus didn’t just give them enough wine to make it through the night, he gave them more than they could drink in a month. Let this be the story we remember when we worry, when we fear there won’t be enough, when we need a sign that God hears our prayer and can give us all we need. Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.