Worship for Sunday, January 16, 2022

Isaiah 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 36:5-10

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strong mountains, your justice like the                 great deep; you save humankind and animals, O Lord.
How priceless is your love, O God!
All people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They feast upon the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life,
and in your light we see light.
Continue your lovingkindness to those who know you,
and your favor to those who are true of heart.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.   Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Being a wedding guest can be a lot of fun. You see the beautiful bride in her gorgeous wedding dress and the handsome groom in his debonair tux. You admire the flowers. You witness the happy couple professing their love and faithfulness in their vows and celebrate the glorious blessing of love.

At the reception you chat and laugh with great company. Maybe you enjoy a slice of yummy cake. You toast the happy couple. You celebrate love – life – and happiness.

Being a wedding guest is fun and relaxing and just plain delightful.

But when it is your wedding or your child’s wedding – I have noticed weddings tend to be less fun. Being the boss of the wedding is serious work. It is often downright stressful!

Take my own wedding for example. Our wedding was beautiful. And almost 25 years later I remain incredibly thankful I was able to talk Jason into marrying me. But there were a couple of hours during our rehearsal dinner that were just plain stressful.

The wedding rehearsal at the church went off without a hitch.

And then we all headed for Jason’s parents’ house for the rehearsal dinner. As we pulled up to their house everything looked perfectly perfect. The June weather was glorious. The lawn was perfectly manicured. The flowers were gorgeous. My in-laws’ yard isn’t a yard – it is a garden oasis right out of Southern Living.

Everything may have looked perfectly – perfect. But EVERYONE was not perfectly perfect. As we walked into the house – we quickly noticed Jason’s parents were wearing VERY fake smiles.

Then Jason’s sister Elizabeth mouthed an exaggerated “follow me.” So we casually followed her into the basement where she dropped the bomb. There was no food. Our caterer was a “no show.” We had hungry guests and no food to feed them.

We held an impromptu family meeting and decided Elizabeth would keep working the phones while the rest of us tried to dazzle and distract our guests with witty conversation – lots of smiley smiles – and drinks for another 30 minutes. And then we would just order pizza if we were still foodless.

Not exactly the menu we had planned – but Jason and I are not – nor have we ever been fancy – smancy people. And who doesn’t like pizza?

Just as Jason’s folks had started ordering pizza – the caterer arrived full of apologies – with most of the food. She had gotten the date wrong!

Something almost always goes wrong with a wedding – no matter how much careful planning you do!

In our Gospel reading for this week we heard about Jesus – his mom – and his disciples going to a wedding. It is early in Jesus’ earthly ministry. This was before most folks knew Jesus was the Savior of the world. It was even before Jesus had done any miracles.

It sounds like this wedding was joyful and fun. It started off smoothly – but then – there was a problem.   The hosts ran out of wine before the party was over.

Imagine being in the hosts’ position. They had invited all of their friends – family members – neighbors – co-workers – and everybody from their synagogue.   Plus they had invited the bride’s entire family and her neighbors – and her friends and everybody from her synagogue and even her mother’s best-friend since she was three years old. And now they had run out of wine before the wedding celebration was over.

It would have been so embarrassing. It would have been like announcing to their entire community that they were too poor to host a nice wedding feast. Or at the very least that they were really bad wedding planners.

It would have made them bad hosts. And no one wants to be a bad host.

Seriously – think about how we would react – if we ran out of food at a church dinner! Or at a Christmas party! We would be mortified!

When Jesus steps in and turns those six huge stone jars of water into wine – it is his first miracle and we learn so much about our Lord and Savior.

First – we learn that even the Savior of the world listens to his mom.   It was Mary who let Jesus know about the whole “wine problem.” And it was Mary who let Jesus know she thought he could most definitely solve the problem. Mary told Jesus she believed in him and that she believed it was time for him to make himself known.

When Jesus was a little reluctant – Mary encouraged Jesus.

Second – we see just how gracious and compassionate our Lord and Savior truly is. Running out of wine at the wedding feast they were hosting would have been a really embarrassing situation for this family.

Imagine having to stand up in front of all of your family – friends – neighbors – co-workers and your worship community and your brand-new spouse’s family – friends and neighbors and say – “Sorry folks – we didn’t buy enough supplies for the party. We are all out. We are just plain broke.   Thanks for coming. Have a nice evening.”

When Jesus turns the water in those water jugs into wine – it is an act of grace – kindness – and compassion.   Jesus didn’t want the groom and his family to suffer the embarrassment and humiliation of being seen as bad hosts. This is an act of mercy!

This miracle also reveals to us that the Lord and Savior of the world cares about every day ordinary people and their every day ordinary problems.

Sometimes – I think – we don’t believe our God could possibly care about the small stuff we worry about – not with the big problems in the world.   But this miracle shows us our Lord does care about what we care about – even running out of wine at a wedding reception!

And we also see in this miracle Jesus doesn’t do anything halfway!   Jesus’ first miracle was to make wine so good even a snooty wine steward commented on how good it was! Which means this must have been some seriously awesome wine! Jesus makes amazing wine!

When Jesus chose to begin revealing himself to the world as our Lord and Savior – he chose to do this through a miracle of kindness – grace – and compassion. It was a miracle that solved a pretty commonplace problem which reveals to us that our Lord cares about us and our common – every day – run of the mill problems.

Your Lord can do mighty and amazing miracles and your Savior cares. He gets it and he loves you. Truly this is Good News. Amen.

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