Tag: sermon

Joy of the Lord

Epiphany 3C    Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10       

This is one of the few places where Scripture talks about Scripture, showing us what happens when a community comes together to hear the written word proclaimed and interpreted. So what happens?

Well, several things. People bless God and voice to their faith and trust in God. They blift up their hands and they stand while the text is read. Some fall to the ground in humility, knowing that God alone can lift them up. When they hear the written word read aloud and taught, much like we have in a Sunday worship service or even in Sunday school, the people also weep and mourn. They do this because they hear their own sins spoken out loud and they know they, just like all of us, are not as blameless in the world as we would like to think we are, but they and we are guilty of sin and of not being the people of God in the ways they could be. The people weep because they fear death and the justice of a God who does not flippantly pardon the guilty. The people weep because they do not know how to bridge the enormous gap that separates a broken humanity from the faithful God who made them. But as surely as the scriptures reveal to us all our shortcomings and failings, it also shows us the source of hope: our God who keeps his promises. It shows us the God who bridged that enormous gap by making a covenant with Abraham, who heard the cry of the people of God enslaved in Egypt and delivered them to the promised land, who forgives sins not because he has to or because we are worthy but because he loves us. Because he is God. The God who promised to come to us, has come to us and will continue to come to us to bridge that gap between us and him that we cannot bridge ourselves.

Then every person who leads and teaches this group of people, whether they are governor, priest, or scribe, tells the people not to weep. Do not mourn, they say, because this day when you hear these words of God is a holy day. A day for joy and celebration! It is the joy of the Lord, the God who is the strength of the people. God is not their undoing but their salvation. This call to rejoice is the big ’aha’ of this passage. The scripture isn’t being read in order to simply condemn and make people feel how unworthy they are or how distant they are from God. Quite the opposite!


Want to hear more? Join us in worship Sunday mornings at 11am. You can find directions to the church here. This sermon can be read in full at Shepherdess Writes.

The First of His Signs

John 2:3-11 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.Wine

The first of his signs. His very first miracle!
But, what does a sign really do?  Well, it points to something else.  A street sign’s entire purpose for existence is to show you the street.  A billboard’s job is to get you to think about something being advertised.  Nether the street sign nor the billboard sign are there for you to think about the poles and structures, letters and paint that make up what they are. Those things are all important in their own way, but their purpose is to point you in a direction or help you see something else.
So, too, it is with the miracle in this story: Jesus miraculously turning water into wine. This is probably the case for all of Jesus’ miracles as well. In the end, it does not matter HOW the water became wine.  What matters is that Jesus made it so.

The ultimate objective of this story is to point to God—it is a sign.

Jesus says to his disciples, to us and, really, to everyone: Look!! let me tell you about the God I know.
The God I know can do ANYTHING, even turn water to wine. The God I know gives abundantly; not just a little, but giving full to the brim. Just like these overflowing jars, he gives with great generosity. The God I know does not skimp on you.  Just like this wonderful, fine wine, he gives you the very finest. He always gives you his very best.

Want to hear more? Join us in worship Sunday mornings at 11am. You can find directions to the church here. This sermon can be read in full at Shepherdess Writes.