24 Jan Christ’s Abundance
Jesus has no sense of proportion when it comes to giving himself to us
It was only a sign, but those 6 jars of water turned into 150 or more gallons of wine at Jesus’ command (John 2:6). That’s an enormous amount! This first of Jesus’ miracles, shows the overwhelming abundance of God offered to us.
The region of Galilee, where Jesus attended this wedding, was a prosperous region. But the taxes of Rome were oppressive, transportation was difficult, and no one had extra income. Feasting and celebrations only took place when there was a great occasion – like a wedding. Very often a wedding lasted a whole week because people had made such a great effort to get together.
For a week long wedding celebration, it was a big miscalculation and embarrassment to run out of wine.
Abundantly giving the Best
The saving joy of this story is that Jesus enables the wine and the joy, for the whole community, to be filled to the brim again. And the wine he creates is not just any wine, it’s some of the best.
Jesus abundantly gives the best. Hope, forgiveness, eternal love, new life – what more could we ask for than these things that Jesus gives to us? To trust in those gifts is to know the glory of Jesus in our own hearts, giving us the courage and the vision to press on through all things in our lives.
It’s often the young people of our congregation through whom the Holy Spirit surprises me on any given week. They can sometimes express faith in such an authentic way, that it nearly takes my breath away. This was the case when I taught AMPED – our middle school confirmation this past week.
The lesson was on the book of Acts and how the Holy Spirit blew into the lives of thousands of people to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. But as the early church grew exponentially, the church argued over who could truly be welcomed into the community.
The church today still disagrees about what it takes for people to belong to the church. We still struggle to try to decide who is welcome, as though we have control of who the Holy Spirit stirs to faith. And on the other end, so many in people in our society have all sorts of excuses as to why they’d never go to church in the first place because the Christian community doesn’t even seem to be relevant to their lives.
So, I gave our kids a very quick assignment in AMPED. They were to imagine someone’s excuse for not going to church. Then they were to extend to that person, a super-brief invitation that might give them a reason to drop their excuse and give church a try.
Our young people’s responses were welcomes OVERFLOWING WITH THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD’S GRACE AND LOVE. Here are a few circumstances and responses from our middle-schoolers. Listen for the abundance!
- To someone who doesn’t come to church because they don’t want to keep up with God’s rules: Dear person, God’s rules aren’t too hard to keep up with. God only made those rules to keep us reminded not to sin. Everyone occasionally breaks rules, so don’t be ashamed. Just let yourself be forgiven. Signed, From me.
- To someone not sure they believe in God: Response: But God believes in you. He is there for love, forgiveness, hope and he will never give up on you! He does BELIEVE in you!
- To someone worried they have different political beliefs: Dear unknown – Do you feel like you don’t belong at church? Well that’s not true because no matter what is happening in someone’s life and religion doesn’t mean that you aren’t welcome. Come. Be a part of God’s calling.
- To someone who feels like they don’t fit in. Response: You are welcome to church because no one “fits in”. There are no requirements. Everyone will accept you because they are just like you.
- To someone who doesn’t feel good enough: Everyone is welcomed. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than life itself. No judgement. And another response: No matter what you are, what you do, what you believe, you are always welcome with open arms from God and his people.
- Finally, someone who worries they don’t know anything: It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about church or God because we all knew nothing at some point. You are always welcome in God’s house.
Do you hear the overflowing abundance of God’s grace and love in those responses? Our young people see Jesus pouring himself out everywhere with God’s welcome, offering hope and love to those who have yet to receive it. Do we see what they see?