John 2:1-11 (CEV) Water into Wine: The Miracle of Abundance

By the Rev. Bob Gochenour (9-14-2014)

 

“They don’t have any more wine!”

This was a crisis for the wedding party at Cana in Galilee.

Cultural Crisis: this was a bad omen for the wedding couple!

Wine symbolized the blessing of God; the joy of love, the future hope of a long and happy marriage, and the glory of family.

The bride and groom would share the cup as a symbol of a good life together.

Running out of wine suggests a future life of struggle, pain, and sorrow.

Running out of wine was a social disgrace: haunt the couple forever.

Running out of wine would be a blot on these newlyweds.

Economic crisis: this was a bad sign for their financial future.

This reality points to a lack of proper planning, inability to handle finances, poor credit rating, and possible future bankruptcy.

The reality of scarcity becomes real for this party.

They experience the reality—we have to do without.

Running out of wine = modern day recession.

You have to rob Peter to pay Paul.

Your paycheck doesn’t cover the bills.

Your fixed income hasn’t kept up with inflation.

The cost of food, utilities, gasoline, medicines outstrips your resources.

This reality has always been true: the newlyweds experience the hard cold facts much too early in their young lives. 

SPIRITUAL CRISIS: running out of wine is a symbol of the deeper human crisis—our spiritual bankruptcy before God.

No matter how good we try to be, how many times we attend church, how hard we pray, how long we practice spiritual disciplines: IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

WE ARE UNABLE TO SAVE OURSELVES!

Running out of wine is a symbol of our own spiritual bankruptcy.

Left to our own devices, we respond to life with our own strengths, our self-sufficiency, our desire to resolve our own problems with our own strategies, and to do it MY WAY.

This is the definition of sin.

We discover that we are left with empty bottles and empty lives.

We don’t experience God’s love, joy and peace.

All we experience is the ravages of scarcity—tasteless water in some old water jars.

We are out of wine!

GOOD NEWS: The Miracle of Abundance

God meets us in the midst of our crisis.

Jesus told the servants to fill the water jars with water.

These were some heavy duty jars—not some 1 gallon plastic water bottles you buy at Food Lion.

Each water jar held 30 gallons of water.

There were 6 water jars available.

That’s 180 gallons of water.

The miracle of God took over the story

The water was transformed into wine.

Notice the abundance in this story!

180 gallons of water = 600 bottles of wine.

The party resumes. The crisis is over. The wine starts flowing.

We are left to imagine how long this 600 bottles of wine lasts.

We come to realize that God loves wedding parties.

We can celebrate that God wants to give us JOY.

 

This miracle becomes a theological statement:

GOD GIVES ABUNDANTLY!

In the midst of our crisis—cultural, economic and spiritual struggles, God gives abundantly.

Jesus shared this good news in John 10:10—

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

God solves our spiritual bankruptcy: he gives us new wine.

He sent his Son—Jesus Christ to die on the cross and take away our sins and transform us into true daughters and sons of the Most High God. God makes us his heirs—partakers of the abundant blessings of God’s mercy, love, and joy.

God solves our economic bankruptcy: he gives us new wine.

He sent his Son—Jesus Christ to rule the universe and provide us with all we need. Jesus sends us the sun, the rain, the good earth. Jesus gives us the gift of every new day. Jesus equips us with gifts, talents, time and resources to become co-workers with God. Jesus gives us work to do, paychecks, wisdom, management skills, training, and a community of resources to help us grow in our stewardship.

God solves our cultural bankruptcy: he gives us new wine.

Jesus walks with us through the pains, struggles, and tribulations of this life. He is always with us—directing us through our grief, shame, and mistakes. He give us the Church—a community of believers that can help us grow in love, service, and outreach. The church is the place where we join together to drink the new wine: we gather to celebrate God’s party. We toast the joy that God provides us in abundance.

Jesus was known as a party goer—he enjoyed abundant life.

This may be a new image for us: God gives abundantly.

Scholar and theologian Walter Brueggemann in an essay entitled “The truth of abundance” writes about what he calls the myth of scarcity.

“The reality of a drought or a famine or some other cause creates a sense of scarcity, a deep, fearful, anxious conviction that there is not enough to go around, and that no more will be given.

The proper response, given that anxiety, is to keep everything you have, to get good protection to keep what you have from others who want it, to take steps to secure still more at the expense of others, more that may belong to others, more than you need, more than you will ever need.

The myth of scarcity that can drive an economy is not based on economic analysis but on anxiety. It produces and justifies violence against the neighbor. The myth of scarcity makes each an agent of acquisition in the face of all the others who pursue acquisition” ....

Brueggemann argues that because the basis of the myth of scarcity is anxiety, not economic analysis, the best way to combat it is with a different view of reality: one he calls a lyric of abundance. The lyric of abundance begins with reflecting on the nature of the God we worship ....

So, “do not be afraid, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

God performs the miracle of abundance in our lives:

The abundance of God is a major theme throughout the Bible.

Exodus 34:6-7

“The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”

Psalm 37:11

11But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

Jeremiah 33:6-9

“I am going to bring it recovery and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. 7I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. 8I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. 9And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them; they shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.”

I Peter 1:3 (KJV)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

 

Celebration of Stewardship: Miracle of Abundance

Parker Palmer was a passenger on a plane that pulled away from the gate, taxied to a remote corner of the field and stopped. You know the feeling: The plane stops and you look out the window and see that you’re not on the runway and the engines wind down and your heart sinks.

The pilot came on the intercom and said, “I have some bad news and some really bad news. The bad news is there’s a storm front in the West, Denver is socked in and shut down. We’ve looked at the alternatives and there are none. So we’ll be staying here for a few hours. That’s the bad news.

The really bad news is that we have no food and it’s lunch time.” Everybody groaned. Some passengers started to complain, some became angry.

But then, Palmer said, one of the flight attendants did something amazing. She stood up and took the intercom mike and said, “We’re really sorry, folks. We didn’t plan it this way and we really can’t do much about it.

And I know for some of you this is a big deal. Some of you are really hungry and were looking forward to a nice lunch. Some of you may have a medical condition and really need lunch. Some of you may not care one way or the other and some of you need to skip lunch. So I’ll tell you what we’re going to do.

I have a couple of breadbaskets up here and we’re going to pass them around and I’m asking everybody to put something in the basket. Some of you brought a little snack along — something to tide you over — just in case something like this happened, some peanut butter crackers, candy bars. And some of you have a few LifeSavers or chewing gum or Rolaids. And if you don’t have anything edible, you have a picture of your children or spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend or a bookmark or a business card.

Everybody put something in and then we’ll reverse the process. We’ll pass the baskets around again and everybody can take out what he/she needs.

“Well,” Palmer said, “what happened next was amazing.

The griping stopped.

People started to root around in pockets and handbags, some got up and opened their suitcases stored in the overhead luggage racks and got out boxes of candy, a salami, a bottle of wine. People were laughing and talking.

She had transformed a group of people who were focused on need and deprivation into a community of sharing and celebration. She had transformed scarcity into a kind of abundance.”

God’s economy knows NO scarcity.

God gifts us with a Lyric of Abundance.

God gives us new wine: gives it abundantly.

God invented generosity and invites us to join him!