|The Epiphany||January 6, 2019||The Epiphany, Year C||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Eve, Year C||December 24, 2018||Christmas Eve, Year C||Luke 2:1-20|
|Advent 3, Year C||December 16, 2018||Third Sunday of Advent, Year C||Luke 3:7-18|
|Advent 2, Year C||December 9, 2018||Advent 2, Year C||Baruch 5:1-9, Luke 3:1-6|
|Advent 1, Year C||December 2, 2018||The First Sunday in Advent, Year C 2018||Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Psalm 25:1-9, Luke 21:25-36|
|Christ the King Sunday, Year B||November 25, 2018||Christ the King, Last Pentecost||John 18:33-37, Revelation 1:4b-8|
|Pentecost 26, Year B||November 18, 2018||Proper 28, Year B||Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13: 1-8|
|Pentecost 25, Year B||November 11, 2018||Proper 27, Year B||1 Kings 17:8-16, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44|
|All Saints, Year B||November 4, 2018||All Saints’ Day, Year B||Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-a; John 11:32-44|
|Pentecost 23, Year B||October 28, 2018||Proper 25, Year B||Mark 10:46-52|
|Pentecost 22, Holy Eucharist II, Year B||October 21, 2018||Proper 24, Year B||Psalm 91:9-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45|
|Pentecost 21, Year B||October 14, 2018||21st Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 23, Year B||Mark 10:17-31|
|Pentecost 20, Holy Eucharist II, Year B||October 7, 2018||Proper 22, Year B||Genesis 2:18-24, Hebrews 1:1-4,2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16|
|Season of Creation 5, Year B||September 30, 2018||The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-7, Mark 16:1-8|
|Season of Creation 4, Year B||September 23, 2018||The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year B 2018||Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Psalm 126, Romans 8:14-25, John 16:16-24|
Season of Creation 2, Year B
Sermon Date:September 9, 2018
Scripture: Psalm 108:1-6, James 2:1-10, 14-17, John 2:1-11
Liturgy Calendar: Season of Creation 2, Year B
“Wedding at Cana” – Giotto (1303-1305). Jesus Christ, on the left, and Mary, further to the right; a burly man tastes the wine that is poured into jars, appreciating the quality; a third figure, a mature man with a beard sitting at the edge of the table, has the halo and witness the miracle of the transmutation of water into wine from the Lord.
One of the best things about miracles is that God gives us the privilege of participating in making miracles happen!
And our participation in God’s miracle working is all part of God’s plan for the ultimate renewal and redemption of all creation.
When God created the earth, God gave us everything we need to live, even things we didn’t know we’d need.
Throughout nature, God has planted miracles, some of which we will never discover because we have already destroyed that part of creation, considering it useless, or we’ve lost it through our carelessness or greed.
But even the seemingly death dealing elements of God’s creation contain life giving elements.
God gives us the privilege of discovering that life and putting it to work in seemingly miraculous ways.
Take penicillin, for instance. You can read the whole story of the miracle of penicillin in various places—the history of this miraculous substance has been well documented. On the internet, a good source is an article from the PBS News Hour. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/the-real-story-behind-the-worlds-first-antibiotic
Something as seemingly destructive and downright creepy as mold turned out to have miraculous healing properties. Through the work of many, many people acting on one person’s discovery that mold had healing powers, penicillin has become a worldwide cure for infections that would otherwise be fatal.
One of my favorite examples of God giving us more than we ever thought we’d need straight out of creation comes to us from the story of the lowly and seemingly useless cocklebur, an annoying weed whose seeds stick tenaciously to our clothes and in animal fur. What use does a weed like that have?
Good thing that cockleburs have stuck around as part of God’s creation, because back in the 1940’s, a Swiss engineer named George de Mestral got curious about why cockleburs stuck to his clothes. When he examined one under the microscope, he could see the hooks of the cocklebur engaging the loops in the fabric of his pants. As a result of this knowledge, de Mestral “invented” Velcro, that useful product that has made life easier for people around the world.
If you think mold and cockleburs are bad, what about running out of wine at a party? That’s a terrible situation, especially if you’re the host of the party.
In today’s familiar reading from John’s gospel, Jesus, his mother, and his disciples are all at a wedding, and the wine runs out.
Without the wine, the celebration will fizzle, and the grumbling guests will make their way home, forgetting the joy, and remembering only the fact that at this wedding, there wasn’t enough wine to go around.
So Jesus changes water into wine and saves the day.
But this miracle is not a one man show!
Jesus does not act alone.
His mother Mary knows that Jesus can bring the life back into the party that is about to die for lack of wine.
So she says to Jesus, “Son, they have no wine.”
Do you ever get tempted to look the other way because that’s just the easier thing to do? Mary could have simply gone home early from the wedding, knowing that when the wine ran out, the celebration would end. But it wouldn’t matter to her. She wouldn’t be there.
But instead, she spoke to her Son, the one she knew could make a difference, the one who could guarantee that that bridegroom would not run out of wine for the guests.
Rachel Carson is a good example of a modern-day Mary. Back in the 1960’s, Carson wrote a book, Silent Spring, in which she documented how destructive the indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides was on the environment. Until her book came out, the American public had been largely unaware of the wide scale destruction taking place around them, in which many people unwittingly participated.
But thanks to Carson’s speaking out, and many people working based on the knowledge that she made available through her research, eventually a reversal in the national pesticide policy took place, DDT was banned, and our US Environmental Protection Agency was created.
Thanks to Rachel Carson, we still have bald eagles and bluebirds, and a host of other good things, based on one woman’s work and then her willingness to speak out.
Be like Mary. Notice and speak out—first, to God in prayer, and then,
Speak to those who can make a difference in stopping the destructive things going on around us. Give yourselves and others a chance to participate in the life giving miracles that God is always trying to work in this world. God wants us to pitch in and to help!
The servants act on Jesus’ command for them to fill the stone jars with water, which was no easy task, because that meant that 120-180 gallons of water have to be drawn. Participating in God’s miracle making can be hard and seemingly thankless work.
And also, be like the wine steward in today’s gospel story.
When the wine steward tastes the water that has become wine, he is blown away! He says to the bridegroom, “You have kept the good wine until now.”
Like the steward, look around, be blown away and swept off your feet as you taste and see the goodness of the Lord. That goodness is all around us.
Thank God for giving us Jesus, and new life.
The best wine, that love God shows us through Jesus, is here and now.
That new life is in the communion cup, Jesus’ blood, shed for us so that we can have new life.
New life is in the blood that runs through our veins when we have taken Jesus into ourselves.
New life is in the love we share with one another.
New life is in the miraculous work God gives us to do.
Be joyful and grateful. Drink all you want of the good wine of God’s mercy and steadfast love for us and for all of creation, because that wine will never run out.
Miracles aren’t just stories that are tucked into the pages of scripture—they are happening all around us, all the time.
And the more we are aware of this fact, the more God can pull us in as willing and joyful participants in God’s ongoing miracle working on this earth.
Sometimes we only learn of how we were part of a miracle years later when more of the ongoing miracle has unfolded.
And sometimes the whole miraculous story unfolds only when we’ve been long gone, and time has passed and people look back and can see what part we played, and celebrate that fact as they benefit from the miraculous work that has made a difference in their lives.
Jesus did miracles, and Jesus himself WAS a miracle.
But no one who went through the awful time leading up to the crucifixion and death of Jesus was saying, “Isn’t all this miraculous?”
Instead, they were probably asking what we do in the trying and awful times in our lives. “God, where are you in all of this? Why is this happening to me, or to this person I love?”
In their time with Jesus, the disciples had come to the conclusion that Jesus was the son of God, but they could not immediately see that Jesus’ death on the cross was part of the miracle of God’s grace, a miracle happening right in front of their eyes.
For them to recognize this miracle, they had to see Jesus again and breathe in the breath he breathed on them when he came to them, when they were locked away in a room because they were so full of fear. They had to breathe in his peace, and his spirit, and lay down their fears and receive their new lives, empowered by the Spirit.
And when they did that, they could go out and join in God’s miraculous work out in the world. The Acts of the Apostles, the book in the Bible that contains a history of the early church, documents the miraculous acts of the apostles once they had received the Holy Spirit, let go of their fear, and then were free to spread the news about Jesus, the greatest miracle of all miracles!
How would it be to wake up every morning with this prayer in your heart and on your lips?
“God, I would love to be part of a miracle that you will be working today! Put me to work!”
If you are brave enough to pray that prayer, get ready to be surprised and very busy!