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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sermon: A Notable Event

by Interim Pastor Hollie Holt-Woehl
John 2:1-11

In the past few weeks we have experienced a number of notable events. Within this building a notable event was that the construction began on our remolding project this past Monday. In our neighborhood, just three blocks down the street from here, there was a murder a week ago of a young man who went through our Bible for Big Kids and Jobs After School programs here at Mount Olive. In our nation we hear of more businesses closing and pensions disappearing. And the whole world has been watching the most notable event of the week, the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Haiti. Every possible media outlet has carried the story of the devastation and stories of people who did and didn’t make it. The death toll is expected to reach 100,000 people, it is just overwhelming. We hear stories of people who were in Haiti to do mission work who escaped to come back home and talk about being thankful they were able to leave, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who live there, who have nowhere to go. These stories are conflicting, and of course it depends upon where your home is.

Whenever notable events like the earthquake in Haiti, there are thousands of events, which are happening after the earthquake in Haiti, that never get noticed. Events like people who survived and who dig in the rubble to look for others, or the group “Hearts Afire of Sarasota” a medical outreach mission, who within three days of the earthquake had a team of doctors assisting those in need. They flew into the Dominican Republic and drove three hours to begin their work in Haiti. At least two other teams are being assembled to assist medically in the near future.

Whenever notable events like the earthquake in Haiti, there are thousands, maybe millions of events throughout the world that never get noticed. Events such as the wife who visits her husband with cancer daily in the hospital, the man who keeps vigil at his partner’s death bed, the child who learns a new word, the son who daily visits an aging parent, a new baby is born, a young adult gets a first job.

What does it mean in a sea of notable events in the community, neighborhood, nation and world to take time today to worship? To come to sing, pray, and listen to God? And what does it mean for us to hear a story about Jesus at a wedding?

This wedding was not a notable event for the nation or world and probably only part of the neighborhood really cared. It is, after all, only mentioned in one gospel. How come the other three didn’t take notice of the wedding? Because it probably wasn’t anyone worthy of noting. And yet I can think of four things worth noting about this event.

Note when it happened. It was a wedding celebration. We sometimes get the sense that Jesus was really stern and serious all the time. But Jesus is probably enjoying the wedding like the other guests and not worrying about the supplies or the details. Jesus was able to celebrate, he laughed and joked with his family.

Note where it happened. I happened in a home in Cana of Galilee. It was a family celebration, not a “city,” “state,” or “national” event. It probably wasn’t even held in an “event hall,” it was at someone’s home. There were no vast crowds or media coverage, it was just two families celebrating this union. Jesus was hanging around ordinary family members, family members probably much like yours and mine. Family members who talk too much, drink too much, eat too much, or encourages you to eat too much, family members who gossip and those who hardly say anything, family members who are just contrary to everything, family members who have an opinion on everything and those who have extreme political leanings to the right or to the left, and family members who just disappear.

Families are a strange paradox are they not? They are the place where we can be the most relaxed and at the same time where we can be the meanest. Many of us treat the ones we love in a way we would never dare to treat a stranger. So it is strangers who see us at our best and those whom we live with who see our worst. Remember it was a family celebration in which Jesus showed his glory. He showed the best of his best.

Note why it happened. In the culture of the day it would have been an embarrassment to the family if the wine had run out. It was to save this family from shame that Jesus brought forth his power. It was in sympathy, kindness, and understanding for this common family that Jesus acted. It is easy to do a big thing on a big occasion but Jesus does a big thing for this family. Jesus, son of the almighty and powerful God, used his power to save a simple Galilean couple from humiliation.

Finally, note to whom it happened. The miracle, or the sign, was not noticed by the guests, wedding party, the hosts, but it was noticed by the servants and Jesus’ disciples. But it was really the servants who saw it first hand, they were the ones who filled the jars with water, they were the ones who took some water out and gave it to the steward, then they hear this steward gush about how good the wine is, they took part in a miracle by just doing their job.

So what does it mean for us at this point in history and in this particular location to hear a story about Jesus at a wedding? Because Jesus participated in events that weren’t notable and Jesus noticed people that weren’t notable.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you are noticed in the midst of neighborhood, national, and world tragedy, you are noticed by Jesus. God in Christ Jesus enters this world to walk with you wherever you are in the joys or sorrows of life, and it is Jesus’ presence that can turn your water into wine. Amen.

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