Monday, January 18, 2010

Water Into Wine, One of God’s Gifts to All People

In today’s gospel lesson we heard the story of Jesus’ first sign, changing water into wine. Have you ever wondered why he did this when we heard him tell his mother, Mary, that it wasn’t his time yet?

Jesus, his mother, Mary, probably his brothers, and his disciples attended a wedding party in Cana. We don’t know if they brought gifts but this miracle Jesus did certainly was a gift that made this wedding party one to be remembered. Also, it probably saved the reputation of the groom’s family. It would have been catastrophic to have run out of wine on only the third day of a wedding party that typically ran 7 days.

You mothers who have worried about wedding receptions know what I’m talking about. What if there’s not enough of this or that? It would be the worst thing imaginable!

Mary didn’t want this to happen to her friends so she mentioned it to Jesus. And being a good Jewish mother she didn’t exactly tell what to do but she certainly made it difficult for him not to do something! I mean when you tell the servants to do whatever he asks of you, you just know he’s going to do something. And Jesus didn’t disappoint his mother, or God.

But what did it mean, this changing water into wine, and what is the lesson for us today? Just looking at it in the simplest of ways it was a gift, a very extravagant and generous gift, 6-30 gallon jars of the finest wine to finish a 7 day wedding party.

One way to look at it is since this is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he is showing his disciples an example of God’s abundant grace. Yes, it was just water into wine, but if God cared enough to provide this for this one couple what wouldn’t he do for the world? I believe it is an example for all of us about God’s extravagant, generous love for all his children.

So, by now you’re probably wondering, what has God given me? What gift have I received from God? What’s my water into wine gift? Maybe some here today think they haven’t received anything from God, and that would be wrong.

We heard this morning in the reading from Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth that God has given gifts to people everywhere. It said, “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful…”

Now you’re really wondering, “What is it God has given me?” I don’t know specifics but I’m sure we have all been gifted. It’s not like what happens regularly in many households where the husband forgets the wife’s birthday or their anniversary and there’s no gift or if there’s a gift it’s not the right gift. No, the gifts we have all received from God are extravagant beyond our imaginations, generous beyond anything we’ve ever heard happen and they are the perfect gift for each of us. Gifts worth more than any multi-million dollar prize from any lottery in the world.

We, each of us, have been given a gift. It might still be hidden away in a closet somewhere all beautifully wrapped waiting to be taken out. Maybe it hasn’t been discovered yet, it’s so well hidden. Maybe we haven’t looked for it yet. Or, maybe the opportunity to use this wonderful gift hasn’t presented itself to us yet. But it is there waiting for us.

We, all of God’s children, have been blessed. Some just aren’t aware of the blessing.

I believe we have been given a chance to use our gifts this past week. Actually there are opportunities all the time to use our gifts but this one just begs us to use everything we have to bless others, to help people who have nothing left. That is the earthquake in Port Au Prince, Haiti, one of the poorest places in the world.

You might be wondering what you can do. What gift do I have to help these people? I have no money; I don’t have any rescue dogs; I’m too old to travel that far. What gift do I have to help these people?

I can’t answer for any of you but one gift I believe we all have is prayer. A week or two ago the scripture for Morning Prayers was from Ephesians chapter 6. It reminded me that we should be praying long and hard for our brothers and sisters. We are to keep each other’s spirits up and keep our eyes open so no one falls out or drops behind.

Friends, if we have received nothing else with which to help others, we have all been given the gift of prayer. Gifts don’t do any good if they aren’t used. Friends, I believe we should be praying if we aren’t able to do anything else.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do something else but at the very least we should be praying for the people in Haiti. Their need is so great that it’s hard for any of us to imagine. No water, no food, no clothes, no shelter, and for some, no family left. Is it possible for any of us to relate to what has happened there?

Can we just sit by and not do something with what God has given us? We are blessed with gifts. If we don’t use them then we aren’t any better than the servant who buried his talent in the dirt until his Master came home.

I don’t know how I got from Jesus turning water into wine to gifts given to God’s children to the earthquake in Haiti but somehow we’re there.

I believe God has a mission for his church and he presents his church with many opportunities to use these gifts. At some point it ends with us making decisions about what we will do. We shouldn’t be impulsive. We need to prayerfully discern what it is we should and can do. But the answer shouldn’t be, “Do nothing.” We should not sit on the gifts we have and not do anything.

How has God gifted us and what are we to do? Friends, how is God speaking to you? What kind of gifts do we have that we can share with our brothers and sisters in Haiti? Are we able to trust God to help us turn water into wine? Can we be the empty jars waiting to be filled with the water that will be transformed into wine to be a blessing to others?

I don’t have the answers to these questions but I do have suggestions. There are many ways to help. Some may contribute through financial means; some may be able to help with blankets or clothing; some may be able to travel to Haiti to help with the relief effort. Presbyterian Disaster Relief is just one organization that is providing relief. There are many others.

Let’s not let forget our brothers and sisters in Haiti who have lost so much. Let’s use the gift or gifts God has blessed us with. Thanks be to God for his abundant grace. Amen.

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