Monday, January 21, 2013

Sermon Jan. 19-20, 2013

Title: If Christ is involved, it’s always good!

Text: John 2:3-4

3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

In Elmer Bendiner's book, The Fall of Fortresses, he describes one bombing run over the German city of Kassel:

Our B-17 was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit. Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a twenty-millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bohn Fawkes, told me it was not quite that simple.

On the morning following the raid, Bohn had gone down to ask our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of unbelievable luck. The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell but eleven had been found in the gas tanks--eleven unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had been parted for us. Even after thirty-five years, so awesome an event leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn.
He was told that the shells had been sent to the armorers to be defused. The armorers told him that Intelligence had picked them up. They could not say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer.

Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells, they found no explosive charge. They were clean as a whistle and just as harmless. Empty? Not all of them.

One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually, they found one to decipher the note. It set us marveling. Translated, the note read: "This is all we can do for you now.

Elmer Bendiner, The Fall of Fortresses.

In our Gospel lesson for today we hear of a wedding; One that our Lord’s mother Mary was invited to. Most commentators believe that Joseph was by this time deceased, but we also learn that Jesus too was invited to the wedding … and with His disciples. This could have been quite a large affair as Jesus and His disciples themselves might have been a sizeable group.

Now at some point Mary makes the statement:

“They have no wine.”

Now this might have been a result of poor planning or just inviting too many people but none the less … no wine.

Mary, the mother of our Lord simply calls out a need to Jesus. She knows and remembers what the angel and the visitation had said concerning her son.

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33)

It is a call in prayer from the mother of our Lord, knowing that he can do what is needed and what is asked according to his will. Christ Jesus came for those in need. Christ came to fill the need of those left in bondage to sin.

So what comes next may sound and short, unloving and harsh coming from the mouth of our Lord:

 “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 

Mary was going beyond her responsibility as a parent. It was not her need to fill the needs of the wedding’s host. It was a question infringing on Jesus and His Messianic work and time … but though Jesus asked the question … “Woman, what does this have to do with me, His words, though rebuking, really are asking Mary: “What do you and I have to do with this?”
But we can know:

If Christ is involved, it’s always good!

You and I too come to our Lord in prayer and at times the requests we make may, through reflection, seem odd. As though we can hear the Lord say, “What does this have to do with me?”

Other times we don’t come to the Lord in prayer because we think, “This isn't important, or God doesn't need to be bothered with my little concerns.” Too often those who need God the most, and are in needful situations, fail to think of Him or ask for Him. At times, here even at Peace, we who are in the business of bringing God’s care and comfort to those in need are the last to know of a member, in the hospital or having brokenness in the home or other concerns in the world or in this life. The world can be your friend but leave you wanting.

James admonishes us in worldliness when he warns:

Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He (Jesus) yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:4-6)

The writer Chuck Swindoll put it this way:
The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which can be  summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power and pleasure.

First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism.

Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is the longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else's eyes.

Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one's own benefit.

Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one's sensual desires.

Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p.219.

Though we are in the world we are called to … not be of the world … and though we daily fall short in all we say or do … we can be sure:

If Christ is involved, it’s always good!

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

The working of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the everyday lives of his people brings salvation and peace. Mary knew to trust in what He would do.

The jars used for purification rites and ceremonial washing's in Jewish life were large and it not very important the number or the size. The miracle was certainly evident on all involved.
Those servants, who gathered the water to the brim as it were, knew what they had put in those jars and those who had tasted the water turned into wine knew as the master of the feast exclaimed:

“Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 

Just as Jesus does with the means of grace where He dispenses His grace to us through the common things of water and word, bread and wine; and in our lesson today He uses the common servants to fill the common jars with simple common water that He, who is creator of all things, then brings to this common wedding where man is joined to woman and where God, through this blessed union on husband and wife, fills His creation with His children whom He came to redeem.

If Christ is involved, it’s always good!

God, in Christ, has brought the peace that passes all human understanding to you through the simple element of water connected to His word of promise.  He has washed you clean, not with a washing that cleanses, for a time, but through the transforming bath in baptism that takes away the sins of the world not for a time but for eternity!

You are clean! You are washed! You are forgiven! And, you always will be His because you are the new wine, in Him that is poured forth daily as you remember what He has done for you.
If Christ can turn the common water into the miraculous wine of our wedding story in Cana He can also turn the filthy sinner into washed saint through His word of promise in and through Baptism. Jesus also will refresh us with His body and blood given for you in the sacrament of the Altar that we soon will partake of, sustaining and renewing our faith in this blessed gift.

It is His true body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins in and with the brand and the wine … and we know that:

If Christ is involved, it’s always good!

Whether the miracle of unexploded shells left in the fuel tanks in our story of the flying fortresses from WII or the story of the miraculous transformation of the water filled jugs into the finest wine served at the wedding in Cana or the blessed body and blood of our Lord in and with the bread and wine, Jesus Christ, if involved in your lives … the ups and the downs ... is always good and is always there and will be their when you can’t go on, to lift you and carry you. He is the one who will never leave you but will sustain you through the trials of this world promising the life eternal in his name where the comfort and peace of a home in His house is secured by the gift of faith in his blood shed for you!

If Christ is involved, it’s always good!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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