John 2:1-11; Water into Wine: The Miracle of Stewardship (Pt 4)

By the Rev. Bob Gochenour (September 28, 2014)

 

A $20 bill met a $1 bill in a cash register.

The $20 bill was very excited: I have been to the Steelers Game, the Casino, the Movies, the Taverns, the Racetrack, the Apple Blossom Festival, the Washington Nationals game.

It was so much fun! I can’t wait to see where I go next.

He looked over at the $1 bill and asked, “Where have you been?”

The $1 bill answered: “Church, Church, Church, Church.”

 

In 30 years of ministry I have heard many times what is the MAIN CRISIS OF CHURCH: The church doesn’t have any money!

How are we going to pay our bills?

The church seems overwhelmed by this stewardship crisis.

The Miracle of Water into Wine is a stewardship passage!

We have studied this passage in these last three weeks.

One member looked at me last Sunday and said: we get it!

Perhaps you think that you have heard everything that can be said from this passage.

Maybe you may even be saying: enough already!

But there is at least one more sermon left in this text!

This passage reveals the miracle of stewardship.

Did you notice the first phrase in this passage?

“After three days…”

John is giving us a theological hint about this passage.

In chapter one, John writes about “the next day” three times.

In 1:29, John introduced the testimony of John the Baptist with the phrase: “The next day.”

In 1:35, John introduced the calling of Peter, Andrew, and John with the phrase: “the next day.”

In 1:43, John introduced the calling of Philip and Nathaniel with the phrase: “the next day.”

Now in the very next story, in 2:1, John introduced the miracle of turning the water into wine with the phrase “on the third day.”

John is pointing us to this reality: the miracle of the water being changed into wine is a RESURRECTION STORY.

John is foreshadowing the miracle of Jesus’ death which lasted three days, and his resurrection was on the third day.

John is stating this truth: 1st Miracle points to his final miracle!

The water into wine miracle and the resurrection of Jesus miracle point to the same truth: the Kingdom of God has come!

The Kingdom of God is breaking into the world—God is still actively creating new things in the midst of our experiences.

Water into wine = Miracle of Grace

We saw how Jesus was changed from water into wine.

Jesus left his silent years: the days when he was nothing more than Mary’s son, the son of the Carpenter Joseph, when his time had not yet come.

Jesus became the new wine: God saved the best for last.

He left the time as the anonymous guest sitting in the back of the room at a wedding celebration.

The disciples see his glory: realize that Jesus is Messiah/Savior.

 

Water into wine = Miracle of Abundance.

God changed 180 gallons of water into 600 bottles of wine.

God revealed in this story that He has overcome our scarcity, our bankrupt souls, and our self-made kingdoms.

God in Jesus is breaking into our world with His Kingdom—a kingdom of abundance, generosity, and lavish gifts.

 

Water into wine = Miracle of Hospitality.

Jesus restores the reputation of the host—he allows the Bride and Groom to become the model of hospitality.

God sent the risen Jesus to lead us into the paths of hospitality.

He doesn’t take our place—but works in us and through us to provide a miracle—the Kingdom of God is breaking into this world through us and at times, in spite of us

 

God makes us stewards—disciples, followers of his miracles.

Stewards = members of Jesus’ Church.

Everyone who follows Jesus = steward of Christ!

Miracle of Stewardship: Jesus invites us to join His miracles.

Jesus invites us to follow him to become servants to the world.

 

Stewardship = enter into the miracle of Grace

Like Jesus before us, we are like water—normal human beings.

We have our strengths and weaknesses, our hopes and dreams, our faults and failures, our problems with temptation and sin.

Jesus came to deliver us from ourselves: he died to take away our sin.

He rose from the dead to give us salvation: to transform us into the very image of Jesus—to make each of us a “little Christ.”

We call this the miracle of Grace—God gave us the gift of personal salvation as a free gift of his great love.

God did not stop there: he calls us to share this miracle of grace.

Jesus transforms us into NEW WINE: carry grace to the world.

Jesus makes us messengers of grace: to spread the new wine to a thirsty world.

Jesus makes us all wine stewards: to invite people to taste God’s New Wine—the best wine found in Jesus.

We can celebrate the miracle of Grace at Stephens City UMC!

We have a lot of wine stewards doing the work of the Kingdom of God—proclaiming the miracle of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

Too often we take this ministry for granted.

We have laity and clergy alike proclaiming this miracle of grace.

Perhaps you have never thought about this before—you have set aside your pastor to teach and preach the Gospel full time.

As your pastor, I am given the privilege to spend all my time proclaiming the Grace of God.

I find it a wonderful miracle to share God’s grace: through sermons, Bible Studies, performing weddings, baptisms, serving Holy Communion, writing newsletter articles, blogs, and other activities.

You also pay other staff with special abilities to proclaim the miracle grace through music, visitation, child care, administration and care for the building.

You make that possible through your financial gifts.

You make that possible because you think it is important.

Not only do you set aside money to hire a clergy person and staff, you also volunteer to teach Sunday School classes, VBS, music classes, pre-school ministries, home group fellowships, Disciple classes, UMW, UMM, and other special projects throughout the year.

You may think this is the normal function of every local church—but do you understand how much of a miracle this really is?

The church could not survive without its volunteers.

But some churches do not understand this reality.

While visiting the new Methodist Churches in Russia, I learned a lot about the Russian culture and experiences.

In many ways it was exciting—for their experience seemed like a new Acts. They were a new church with many signs and wonders.

In other ways they were amazed at the reality of the American church since we are mature, and well developed.

One of their pastors was amazed by our volunteers.

He shared that everything they try to do in the Russian church has to be paid—they have no volunteers.

We agreed that this was a result of their cultural experience—they were living in a post-communist reality and no job was ever done without a paycheck attached to it.

He was amazed that as an American pastor, I had volunteers who served without pay on work committees, as teachers, as trustees, as ushers, as stewards,

This is a miracle of stewardship!

Thank you for being good stewards.

 

Stewardship = entering into the miracle of Abundance.

We do not have any more money, treasures, or resources than anyone else.

At times the Church receives a huge donation from generous members.

But on the whole—we are just average people giving our financial gifts to God.

I wonder if you realize how much of a miracle that is!

We are practicing the miracle of the common purse.

Each member gives a free will offering based on their desire to give offerings to God.

The Church does not impose a tax, does not manipulate your giving, does send out a bill, does not call you every day if your payment is late. We don’t charge a late fee, interest, or a penalty.

We voluntarily give what we think we can to God’s church.

Some people give more, some people give less.

It is at this place that the miracle of abundance takes place.

Consider the reality: Stephens City UMC is in the process of raising $477,711.13 this year!

Could any of us do this by ourselves?

God has taken our individual gifts and put them in a common purse in order to perform great ministries in our community.

Rather than ask you to give more this morning, I want to say thank you.

You have made it possible to provide the miracle of abundance in good and worthwhile ministries throughout the world.

You are financing local mission: Salvation Army, CCAP, Food pantry, Emergency Assistance, WATTS, Just4Kids, Volunteer in Mission trips, and many other projects.

You are financing Virginia Conference missions: small churches who need salary support, 6 United Methodist schools in Virginia, Africa University, Clergy training programs, support for Bishops and District Superintendents, , and VA Conference benevolence projects.

You are financing international missions: Covenant relationship with John Elmore, serving the church in Chile, Haiti projects, World Service ministries, and many other missionaries serving all over the world.

God gathers what we have; blesses it for ministry; and

multiplies it for His purposes to create positive ministry.

 

Stewardship = entering into the miracle of Hospitality

We have the same fears, concerns, anxieties as others.

We are tempted to become critics of others.

Jesus invites us to become stewards of hospitality.

We are invited to make the Church a blessed home for all.

We are invited to become a community of faith—where strangers become true brothers and sisters.

We are invited to become a unique community of love, care, and support.

Again, I have to thank you for setting me aside to provide the ministry of pastoral care to the community.

You may not realize the privilege you give me to provide care at a hospital bedside, to walk with people through their struggles, to perform funerals for those who grieve.

This miracle happens because you believe in hospitality—I get to walk with people in their most difficult moments.

It is an honor to be welcomed into their lives at such times.

The miracle of hospitality occurs amongst laity as well.

You give your time, your prayers, your talents, your treasures & resources to Jesus’ ministry of hospitality.

Like Jesus, many of you give countless hours behind the scenes to care for those who need God’s love.

God receives our gifts and makes them God’s hospitality.

For these gifts of stewardship, I say thank you!

Imagine, what would happen if Stephens City United Methodist Church did not exist?

There would be a giant hole in the Stephens City community!

 

The story of Jesus changing water into wine is a stewardship story.

Through this story, God provides the miracles of grace, abundance, and hospitality.

My hope is that it will inspire you to continue providing these miracles through Stephens City United Methodist Church.

Amen.