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Abundance in action

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Second Sunday of Epiphany – January 14, 2018

John 2:1-11 and Psalm 104:14-16

Today we are continuing with scripture readings from John. The more I research and dig into his writings, I find many descriptors of our fourth gospel writer. Dr. William Barclay, a Scottish author and theologian, wrote that the fourth Gospel was indeed “different”. Luther called it ‘chiefest of the Gospels, unique, tender and true.’ Jerome, a theologian and an historian in the early Christian Church, wrote: The Fourth Gospel writer was ‘saturated with revelation.’ I am personally excited and motivated to explore his gospel further. New year, fresh perspectives.

We will learn that true miracles, ones that are actual divine intervention in the natural order of things are very, very rare. And they always serve one function. They are to build faith in Jesus’ followers. In the passage today, we see something of God’s abundant grace in action. What’s more, the miracles in John’s gospel have another quality to them. They are regarded as signs. These signs point toward a larger divine reality, similar to the way John the baptiser points towards Jesus.

Note that is what happens here. At the end of this story, John tells us, “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in Him.” Miracles are, and should be, rare. Still, it is evident that Jesus cared about the ordinary people in this wedding, presumably a young couple. Isn’t that always the way with Jesus? He cares for all. He cares for you, and He cares for me and He especially cares for the children. No one is beyond his reach and compassion.

Note especially that this miracle indicates the abundant nature of God’s grace. The master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” Jesus took what was plain and dull and turned it into something vastly superior.

The water was not only going to be transformed to wine. It would be the best wine possible. In this He was but reflecting the nature of God. God is a giving God. The God who has given us a beautiful and a bountiful world does so because that is God’s nature.

Writer Kurt Bruner tells of watching a television Christmas special years ago called The Homecoming. Set during the Great Depression, this film inspired a weekly television series about the Walton family. Do you remember that series? You’ll probably have to be of a certain vintage to recall that most lovable family.

“Throughout the story, young John‑Boy Walton finds himself unable to contain his passion for writing. Periodically retrieving a hidden paper tablet, John‑Boy feverishly writes down the ideas and thoughts trapped inside his head that scream to be expressed on the page. Though too embarrassed by his compulsion to tell anyone, he can’t stop. As he finally admits to his concerned mother, he feels as if he will go crazy if he doesn’t write. John‑Boy is a writer. He has to write.”

Kurt Bruner likens this to God’s love, saying, “God is love. Therefore, God has to love. God can no more keep this love to Godself than John‑Boy could keep his ideas off the tablet page. It was a deep yearning to express his love to share his heart with another person that drove God to create humankind. God didn’t make us so that we would love him but so that God could love us. We were not made to be mere servants but to be the object of God’s affection.”

The story of Christ turning the water to wine, far from being frivolous, gives us insight into the love and generosity of God. The Creator of heaven and earth, as our Psalm reading from Psalm 104 also tells, is a loving, generous, grace-filled God who desires to provide God’s children with blessings untold. God does not seek to simply provide the barest essentials for our existence. God has more blessings for us than we can possibly imagine, God’s grace is abundant.

According to John 1:16 we hear, “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

So as we each enter a new year, 2018, let us focus on God’s blessings. January can be very anti-climatic and somewhat depressing after the busy-ness and celebratory season of Christmas. There are extra bills to pay from the Christmas gifting and also charities that you have supported. Hosting the many meals and activities has been expensive in money and energy. Extended family that were visiting have returned home. On top of that, the weather has been extra cold and the nights are long. January is typically a very tough month for many.

Count God’s blessings–they are abundant! Perhaps even take some time to write a list all of ways you feel grateful. You’ve heard of a formal gratitude journal, maybe this is a good way to begin 2018?  Think about your home, your family, your friends, your colleagues. Think about your health, your body and the many ways it sustains you. Consider how God has created you, with a mind and your ability to think and learn and grow. Find good books and good reading to bring you up and make you motivated and positive. Hang out with people who bring you up instead of knocking you down. These are all steps we can take in 2018 to help make the most of all of God’s blessings. The first step is recognition… God’s blessings are abundant. God’s blessings are truly endless. How great it is to be able to recognise and embrace the abundant grace of God. Through January’s long cold nights and short days, focus on gratitude and remind yourself that “Seeds of resentment and unhappiness cannot grow in a grateful heart.”

Amen

Main source: From a sermon by King Duncan – “The Wedding Was Saved, but the Marriage?”

 

Copyright 2018 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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