Sermon for Sunday July 25th, 2010


When Life Disappoints, Jesus Doesn't! by Scott Bradford

John 2:1-2:12

Weddings! Barbara (our organist) has likely played at more weddings than I’ve ever performed, but I know she and I probably have some wedding nightmare stories to tell, if we could tell them. We might have to change the names to protect the innocent. If you know me, I like to start on time. One wedding that I officiated years ago was running twenty minutes late, and appeared to be far from starting. Whom were we waiting on? The mother of the Bride! Remember, the mother’s were supposed to be seated in the five minutes prior to the start of the wedding! I finally gave her a “Five minutes, we are starting in five minutes!” She said “I’m not ready!” I said, “But the 200 invited guests are”. We seated a still disheveled looking mother, and began. “

The setting for today’s text is a wedding. A wedding at Cana of Galilee. We know little about the wedding. We don’t know who was the bride and groom. We only know that Jesus and his disciples were there, and so was his mother. We don’t know why they were there, or how they knew the bride and groom, simply that they had been invited. The wedding would have been an event drawn out over several days and quite a celebration. At some point they ran out of wine, and Jesus’ mother decides to intervene and she calls upon Jesus.

Mary says to Jesus “They have no wine”.
Jesus responds “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come!”
Mary tells the servants “Do what he tells you to do!”
And then Jesus obviously responds “Fill these jars with water” and they do, and not only are they turned to wine, but it is the good wine, better than had already been served by the host. Usually the host served the good wine, and then when the partiers were too imbibed to know the difference the cheap stuff was brought out.

Can you imagine the exchange between Jesus and Mary? Now obviously this is my take
“Son go on and do what you are going to do!” (go motion with hands)
“Mother!” (embarrassed)
“O Son! You know what you were born to do!”
“It’s not my time!”
“Remember what I always tell you “Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today!”
Scholars suggest (NIB, Vol. IX, pp 536-537) that this discourse is not “rudeness”. Jesus commonly greets women with the phrase “Woman!” Her words do “carry an implied request” and it shows both a familial relationship, but also Jesus start of “disengagement” towards his mother as he directs himself towards ministry of the Kingdom. It is no doubt a similar thought when in another story Jesus says “Who are my mothers and brothers?” (Mark 3:33).

At any case, Jesus turns water into wine, and it is the first of seven miracles that the Gospel of John re-counts. And the question is, what is the purpose of this first miracle as it relates to the Kingdom of God? In the text John tells us “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him”. Certainly it reveals his power. But compared to miracles like restoring sight to a blind man or healing a withered hand, just what purpose is this first miracle.

Let’s look at the setting again! A wedding! A big celebration! The time of your life! The last thing anyone wants to happen is for something to go wrong! And right smack dab in the middle of a good plan, they run out of wine. Probably can’t run down to the local drive through for this one. The family had spent a long time planning and gathering the wine, plans and preparations, decorating, inviting, sewing dresses, sprucing up the backyard for the reception and suddenly a servant runs in and says “We are out of wine”. Disappointment begins to set in.

Sometimes our life plans gets interrupted by life’s disappointments.
Sometimes our plans get interrupted by life.
Someone runs in “The space shuttle Challenger just blew up”. “A plane just flew into the world trade center”. “Mother has just passed away”. “There is an earthquake in Haiti”. “Johnnie just left Sally, I heard they’re getting divorced, and life’s disappointments set in.
This isn’t what I planned, we should have had wine to last until next week!

In a Calvin and Hobbs comic the young Calvin is saying “Life’s disappointments are harder to take when you don’t know swear words”. I could change that and say “Life’s disappointments are harder for a Christian, because we stopped saying swear words”. When I used to golf at Carrizzo Springs, TX with a man named Poke Mills, he would tell people we were golfing with “When the Pastor here makes a bad swing he can’t say swear words, so he just rolls it around in his mouth and then spits, and it kills the grass”. And then he would add “And look how bad his game is”. Of course, in drought ridden Carizzo Springs “all the grass was dead”.

In the midst of a life disappointment, Jesus performs a miracle. That to me is the purpose of this miracle, “When life disappoints, Jesus doesn’t!” Just after Christmas I saw someone’s post on Facebook that said “This was the worst Christmas ever!” I had to ask them, “How can Christmas be worse?” Christmas isn’t about how much money we have in the bank or how many presents we can buy, or the fact that one of our loved ones was in the hospital. Christmas is solely about one thing, that the Son of God was born in the flesh to be the Savior of the World. And s in the midst of Life’s disappointments, Jesus doesn’t!”

Sometimes we blame God, or Jesus for our disappointments. It’s true that God may let them happen! But God isn’t a puppet master controlling every aspect of our life, and let’s be perfectly clear, some of life’s disappointments, we cause for ourselves. But in the midst of those disappointments the love of God in Jesus Christ is always present!

This week as the news of the earthquake in Haiti spread around the world it was soon circulated that one of our Southwest Texas Pastor’s, Rev. Clint Rabb, spouse of Rev. Suzanne Field-Rabb ws among the missing. He now is the head of Volunteers in Mission out of The Board of Global Missions in New York and he was on a planning mission with Sam Dixon, the head of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and UMCOR employee Jim Gulley. The three had just entered the hotel Montana when minutes later the hotel collapsed and at least 200 people were missing. Life for Suzanne Field-Rabb and family and friends were suddenly filled with shock and disbelief. They were suddenly faced with what can’t even be consider a life disappointment but what seemed like a terrible tragedy. Prayers went up, including through Facebook post(s) yours and mine.

I saw a quote the following day from Suzanne in an UMNS article “she appreciates the concern of others as she experiences the “mystery of grief – hanging between hope and fear.” I kept searching, googling for articles and for news about the Hotel Montana. About 11p.m. Thursday night, about fifty-five hours after the hotel Montana had collapsed Aaron Gulley, son of missing UMCOR Jim Gulley posted to a Facebook site that had been created for people to share information about the missing: A bit more detail from Jim Gulley. He was trapped with a group of people: Rev. Sam Dixon, Rev. Clint Rabb, Sarla Chand, Rick Santos, and Ann Varghese. All of them are alive. Sam Dixon and Ann Varghese were still trapped when we spoke, but the rescuers were ...

My body went tingly. God bumps went up my arms. Did I just read that correctly. Clint Rabb, Sam Dixon, Jim Gulley and four others had just been rescued from the rubble! A miracle! I can only say “When life disappoints, Jesus doesn’t”

This doesn’t mean that we don’t experience disappointments.
It doesn’t mean that sometimes life doesn’t disappoint us.
BUT the love of God in Jesus Christ will never disappoint us, and sometimes, yes sometimes we even get a miracle!

(Note: it was later learned that afternoon that Sam Dixon died during the extraction, and Clint who was rescued later died at a Florida Hospital. The stories that were told, such as when the rescuers were coming they sang “The Doxology” and how Clint tried, though legs trapped, to help make Sam more comfortable are marvelous testaments that Jesus doesn’t disappoint).