Typically sermons build to a central point, but this morning I’m going to get to the point right up front… Here we go.
What would our lives be like if we expected miracles on a daily basis? In other words, let’s suppose that extraordinary outcomes don’t happen only to people in the bible or the National Enquirer…. Imagine that your spiritual mindset, your daily and confident expectation, is that you have your very own miracle maker.
When the wedding host runs out of adult beverages, it is clear that Mary not only knew Jesus could fix the problem, she expected nothing less than that he would. It was no small thing to run out of wine at a wedding. It was how you demonstrated hospitality and it also represented the flow of good fortune that would follow the new couple. So to run out of BLESSING was an unconscionable faux pas.
Weddings are used throughout the bible as teaching illustrations. The king who gives the wedding feast to a bunch of no shows in Matthew 25. The “what not to wear” account of the wedding guest who gets thrown out for not wearing the right clothes, in Matthew 22. The big seating chart dilemma in Luke 14.
What can we take away from this particular wedding story?
Well, stuff goes wrong at weddings as in life. I can attest!
- The couple arrives to realize they forgot the rings and the wedding is delayed 45 minutes while they run home.
- The matron of honor had surgery recently and shouldn’t be standing for a long time and … you guessed it. She collapses during the vows.
- The bride’s mother threatens to make a scene if her ex-husband (the bride’s father) brings his new girlfriend to the wedding—which of course he does.
- Or…guests don’t bother to RSVP for the reception, but show up anyway, assuming there will be enough food and drink for them. And there isn’t.
We can wonder if that’s what happened at the wedding at Cana. And so a wedding is the scene John’s gospel uses to tell of Jesus’ first of seven signs of his divinity.
Each of the seven signs in the Gospel of John illustrates the miracles or public actions that reveal his identity. Whether Jesus is changing water into wine, feeding the 5,000, walking on water, or raising Lazarus, each story is told to reveal something about Jesus and the human condition.
They invite us to take on the role of the people Jesus encounters in each story. Many believe this is why some people remain unnamed. We are to fill in the blank with our own name. That makes it easier for listeners to step into their space to stand with them in the experience of the scene.
At the heart of the wedding at Cana, human resources are at an end. There is no more wine left. In other miracles in John, humans have come to an end of their medical skills, supply of food, or supply of courage. In each case Jesus heals, feeds, and comforts amid the storm. Here he supplies what is needed for the feast to continue: the gift of wine. The gift of wine is given to propel us forward to the hour when the gift will be new life.
Throughout the scriptures we have always referred to these gifts or signs as MIRACLES. And then…we check out! Miracles don’t exist today, right? And if they do, have you ever seen one? Or they happen to other people, right?
Wrong. Just what constitutes a miracle?
Miracles are happenings that we don’t naturally expect.
Why? Because NATURALLY, when left to our limited human limitations, our expectations tend to be pretty low. Maybe we’ve forgotten that we are part of team Jesus!
Speaking of only our congregation, it was nothing short of a miracle when our Dorothy Hansen fell in her apartment and the man who normally walks the halls earlier, walked later and heard her cries. It was nothing short of a miracle that Marlys Nauman is recovering from a grave medical condition that in part turned out to be due to being given the wrong medication! It is nothing short of a miracle that Salem’s dining hall, over the last 60 plus years has probably fed more than 5,000 cups of Swedish egg coffee, pancakes and meatball sundaes!
Miracles are when God and humans get together to make something happen. Mary got that. Next Saturday the north side Lutheran churches are going to get together and confidently expect that God is going to work through them to make something wonderful happen in our neighborhood. That reminds me…
Years ago I used to hand out special writing pens wherever I went. I was so struck by these words that I had 300 pens engraved. Would you like to know what was written on the pens? “The universe rearranges itself to suit your picture of reality.” In other words, you’ll always get exactly what you expect. If your expectations are low, I guarantee that the universe will line up to verify that for you. But if your expectations are born of a miracle mindset, watch out, because God will deliver.
We can either live as if everything that happens is ODD or as if everything that happens is GOD. It is a choice. Bad things may still occur but ask Kevin McGandy about the unexpected blessings and miracles cancer is bringing into his life.
Our gospel today is an Invitation to Experience the Miracles Ourselves. Team Jesus is about what is possible and… the possibilities are limitless. Because by the way, when Jesus turned water from the stone jars into wine, it added up to 180 gallons of the finest vintage they’d likely ever see. And it was more than enough.