Thursday, January 30, 2014

What Does Grace Feel Like?

Another tidbit I found as I continue to wait at the well with the Samaritan woman and Jesus....

How did knowing Jesus knew her and loved her feel....

Maybe like this....

Beautiful Rowdy Prisoners
Click on the link to watch this video - Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to embed it!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Women at the Well

Sometimes when I work on a sermon, I come across stuff that's just sooo good.  In one of the on-line lectionary discussions I frequent, someone posted this video of a dramatic monologue of the woman at the well.

If you watch thie video, try this link.

I just had to share!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

If the Human Body Is Mostly Water, Can Jesus Change Us into Wine?

Scripture Reading:  John 2:1-11

I’ve heard this story many times.  And I’ve always had this image in my head of Jesus and his mother standing in the kitchen with those jars nearby, talking to the servants, with the disciples maybe hanging around in the doorway.

I’ve always pictured Jesus standing there watching the servants fill the jars.  But as I heard this story again and again, I have a slightly different picture.

There’s a wedding feast in Cana.  Jesus’ mother is there.  So is Jesus.  And Andrew, Simon Peter, Phillip, Nathanael, the unnamed/beloved disciple. 

It’s a party.  They are moving around, visiting, chatting, enjoying the festivities.

Jesus’ mother overhears two servants talking.  One says, “This is the last of the wine.  I don’t know what we’ll do.”

She grabs the servant, “Come with me.  I know what to do.”

She finds Jesus, over with a group, telling stories, enjoying the wedding feast.  It’s a party after all.

She tells Jesus the problem.  Jesus hedges a bit, but she’s undeterred.  “Do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus tells the servant, “Fill the big stone jars to the brim.”

The servant leaves Jesus and gathers a few other servants to help.  The servant knows this is a big job –they just filled those jars a few days before for the purification rituals to prepare for the wedding.

Now the jars were empty - or nearly so.

It’s a lot of water – 20 to 30 gallons, six jars.  120-180 gallons of water. 

And it’s not like the servants just took a pitcher to the sink.  No, they would have to take water jugs to the town well.  There would have been walking to and from the well.  Several trips.  Carrying heavy water jugs.  Drawing the bucket up and down in the well to fill each jug.  Pouring the water into the stone jars. 


Until all six jars were full

I imagine at least one of the servants grumbled at the task.  “What do we need all this water for?  The purification was done days ago!  I have other things I’m supposed to be doing.  What a crazy guest asking for this.”

Finally, the jars are filled. 

The servant goes back out into the party to find Jesus.  “Sir, the jars are full.”

“Well then, take some to the steward.”  Jesus says, and turns back to the group he was talking with.
By the time the chief steward takes that first sip, the water has become wine.

You know, we don’t know when that happened.  Was it when the servants poured the water into the jars?  When the jars were full?  When the servant went back to Jesus to tell him the jars were ready?  When the steward took that first sip?

We don’t know.

All, the gospel writer tells us is that the steward was amazed at the quality of the wine.  That he questions the bridegroom about serving such excellent wine so late in the party, never realizing that the bridegroom has no idea what he’s talking about.

That the disciples know what happened, and they believe.

I’m struck by the process in this miracle – the first of Jesus’ signs. 

There’s no one way Jesus does his miracles.  Sometimes he just speaks and it’s so:
·         Demon, leave her
·         Rise, take up your mat and walk
·         Lazarus come out
·         Go, your faith has made you well

Sometimes he touches and it’s so:
·         Laying his hand on the sick
·         Taking dirt, spitting on it to make mud, and placing it on the blind man’s eyes
·         Taking bread and fish and blessing them
·         Or even being touched, like when the women touched the hem of his robe

Jesus didn’t lay his hands on the stone jars, or say “Water become wine!” Jesus invited the servants to be part of this sign.   And while they were doing what Jesus told them to do, - simply doing what servants do - a miracle happened.

In confirmation this week, we talked about this story.  One thing about confirmation students – they see things you and I would never think of.

Jesus turned water to wine?  Hmmm.   “If the human body is 60% water, and Jesus turns water into wine, does that mean that Jesus turns us into wine?”

I’ll admit the question caught me off guard and I had to think for a minute. 

Then I asked, “What would it look like if Jesus did turn us into wine?”

The kids looked puzzled.  One of them said, “That would be disgusting!”

I tried again:  “Think about it.  Jesus turned plain ordinary water into the best wine that chief steward ever tasted.  So how would Jesus turn us plain-ordinary-water-people into wine?”

They answered me:  “He’d make us holy people.”

Holy people.

Water into wine.

How does Jesus turn us into wine?

We could point to our baptism.  That’s certainly where it starts.

Water poured.

Words spoken.

Ordinary water combined with the promise of God that cleanses us, names us child of God, transforms us.

Ordinary-water-people become holy-wine-people

How does Jesus turn us into wine?

We could point to those moments we share each Sunday
·         In the hearing of the word
·         The confession, prayer, hymns
·         Communion - when the wine of Christ blood become our water quenching our thirst, and the bread of Christ’s body becomes the food that nourished our souls.

Those are moments when the living water is poured into our hearts, filling us to the brim.

But I think a big part of Jesus turning us into wine are those moments we can’t specifically point to.  Those ordinary moments, where we’re just doing trying to do what Jesus says.   When we’re simply doing those things we do.  Even when we might be grumbling, or thinking, this is crazy.
·         The ordinary moments of living
·         The doing whatever Jesus says
·         Every day
·         Everywhere

You know, I’ve always found something strange about this first miracle.  Water to wine.  At a party. 

Somehow it always seemed a little frivolous to me. 

Healing lepers, making the blind see, calming the storm, feeding 5000, raising the dead – now THOSE are miracles.

I’ve overlooked the point.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, blessing the everyday in’s and out’s of life, making the ordinary holy, blessing our relationship and giving us life abundant.

A life full of love and grace and joy – just like a cup that overflows with the best, sweetest wine.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  The Word became flesh and has shown us a God of abundant love who invites us to dip into jars filled with living water, and tell us to give this sweet wine of grace to the world.

Jesus, fill our ordinary-water-hearts and make us holy-wine-people.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Rabbi? Messiah? Son of God? King?

Sermon Text:  John 1:35-51 

I can’t believe it’s only been two days.  So much has happened.  So much has changed.

Yesterday, Andrew and I were standing by the Jordan with John.  It was so early that the usual crowds had only begun to trickle in.  We were talking when suddenly John turns and points and says, "See!  Look there! 
That one!  Here is the Lamb of God.”

The day before, John had pointed him out – The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,

  • -        who comes to reconcile all people with God, 
  • -        who comes to restore God’s reign of justice and peace, 
  • -        who comes to show us God’s will. 

The one upon the Spirit of God descended and remains, who will baptize with that same Holy Spirit.

Now…here he was, walking by us.  John looked as us as if to say, “What are you waiting for?”

So we followed.

Jesus turned and saw us, looked at us as if he was looking deep into our souls.  “What are you looking for?”  he asked.

What were we looking for?  I don’t know if we knew.  I still don’t know if I know for sure what I’m looking for.  All I knew then was that I had to find out more about this man John called the Lamb of God.

We asked the only thing we could think of, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”

Jesus understood, maybe even more than we did, what we were asking.  Jesus knew we were really asking, “Be our Teacher.  Let us follow you.  Let us go where you go, stay where you stay.”

Jesus said, “Come and see.”

We went with him.  And as he taught us, as we talked with him, we began to see just what John meant.  Andrew was so excited that he had to run and get his brother Simon.

“Simon, Simon -Come and see – We have found the Messiah!”

Simon came.  Jesus saw him, looked at him as if he was looking deep into Simon’s soul, and said, “Simon, son of John,  I shall call you Cephas.

Now the Gospel writer translated Cephas for his readers – in Greek, it’s Peter.  I shall translate it for you – in English the closest would be Rocky.

John laughed – Jesus had hit the nail right on the head.  Simon Peter was a rock - strong, immovable, stubbornly loyal. 

That was yesterday.  This morning, Jesus decided to go to Galilee.  Andrew, and Peter and I, new disciples that we were, followed him.  We weren’t sure why we were going to Galilee.  We were sure we wanted to go where ever Jesus went.

Turns out, Jesus was seeking those who were seeking him.  Yesterday we thought we had found the Messiah.  Today, we realized that the Messiah had found us.  Just as he found Phillip today, inviting him:

                “Come and see.
                “Follow me.”

Phillip came and saw.  Like Andrew, Phillip became so excited he just had to find Nathanael.  “Nathanael, Nathanael! Come and see!  We have found the One written about in the Law and the Prophets.  “Come and see Jesus from Nazareth.”

Right then, the only thing Nathanael could only see was that Phillip was excited about someone from Nazareth of all places!  He scoffed, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Nathanael’s skepticism didn’t faze Phillip.  “Come and see.”

Nathanael came.  Jesus saw him, really looked at him as if he was looking deep into his soul, and said, “Nathanael, you are a straight shooter.  You say what you think.  An honest man.”

Nathanael just looked at Jesus.  “How do you know me? “

Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree waiting for Phillip.”

And right then and there, Nathanael saw what we were beginning to see:  “You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!”

Jesus smiled at him.  “All it took was to change your mind about something good coming from Nazareth was for me to tell you I saw you under the fig tree?   Just wait!  You will see – you all will see - even greater signs.”

“Come and see.  Follow me.  Abide with me.

“And you will see heaven met earth, and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” 

I’m not really sure what Jesus meant by that.  Angels ascending and descending sounds a lot like the story about Father Jacob when he was fleeing from his brother Esau and spent the night in the wilderness.  In his dream, he saw a ladder to heaven with angels ascending and descending.  He realized that this place where he slept was the house of God – a place where God dwelt on earth.

Angels descending and ascending on the Son of Man?  That would mean the Son of Man is a place where God lives!

Does that mean – mean that God dwells in Jesus?  That God lives among us in human form?  

That’s too incredible to believe!

That's dangerous to believe...

I still have a lot of questions.  I don’t understand everything Jesus is saying. 

But that’s alright – Jesus has asked me to come and see.  Jesus has found me and invited me to follow him.  To remain with him.

I’m sure I’ll have my questions answered.  And if Jesus continues to say things like things, I’m sure I’ll have even more questions.  

Rabbi, Messiah.

Son of God, Son of Man,

King of Israel, written about in the Law and Prophets

Lamb of God.

I still want to find out more.