Archive for the ‘Epiphany 2C’ Category

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Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Epiphany 2(C), January 20, 2013
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

Click here for audio of this message

There’s a very famous prayer that many if not all Christians throughout the world, in every denomination study; it’s called Jesus’ High Priestly  Prayer.  I wanted to just share just one small portion of it with you, as a way to look at all three of our readings.  Listen: “And I am no longer in the  world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one,  even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has  been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. [John 17:11-12]

So, if the stated will of the Son of God is that we would all be one, that is be in concord with each other, then why is the church so divided?  We are   broken down in groups such as those who claim God’s Word is infallible, those who say it is only inspired, and those who say that history must  decide what parts of the Bible are true or fable.  We are further divided along denominational lines over following a historical liturgy and those who  follow no liturgy.  Some denominations claim that they follow no preconceived confessions of faith, while others, such as our own denomination  have an entire book of written confessions, with the stated purpose of defending the church against error.  We have divisions over the question of  what gifts listed in our epistle lesson are valid and what gifts are no longer needed.  Why we don’t even have to look outside of our own  congregation to find division; we have some people here at Trinity who feel that all forms of music are valid for worship, while some say only the  Organ and classical instruments and music should be used.

So what went wrong?  How did the church get in such a mess?  Is this something new, and particularly an American phenomenon that we are  experiencing? No!

In such a time as ours, when so many are claiming that the church ought to be free to follow the working of the Holy Spirit, we need to know what God has already spoken on the subject, and I can think of no better book in the entire Bible to start with, than the one our Epistle lesson (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) comes from.  When Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Corinth, they were becoming fragmented; divided over doctrine that was not centered in the Word of God, but the will of men.  Things like immorality, stunted spiritual growth, and confusion, were threatening to rip this little church apart at the seams.

Paul discovered that several divisions, or groups had developed that followed its own chosen human leader, exercised their spiritual gifts and time, talent, and treasure selfishly, and cared very little for the health or ministry of the entire body, the church.  The Christians at Corinth had received an abundance of spiritual gifts (1. Cor. 1:4-7), but they were lacking in the higher spiritual graces, that is the kind of Christ centered character the Holy Spirit desired to create and keep in them.

Like the congregation at Corinth, we also suffer from divisions and party spirit, which undermines God’s work among us.  And yet to God’s glory and our shame, He still leads us to a true confession of faith through Jesus Christ, our Savior, and the Spirit’s work among us.  Oh that God would mute our idolatrous pride and curb our party spirit.  So let’s examine our message today, so that the Lord can do just that; let’s allow Him to combine our hearts in works of love and praise to Him, into a true confession that declares “Jesus is Lord among us!”

In both our Old Testament lesson and our gospel lesson, the theme seems to be a wedding.  But we must understand that the wedding motif or theme is always used by God to symbolize unity, and His relationship with His covenant people.  In the old covenant, it was the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who were united to God as a bride to her husband.  Specifically, it was that peculiar group of people who willingly followed, trusted, and obeyed the true God.  To follow Him alone and forsake all other false god’s required faith.  Faith to admit that on their own they could not keep His commandments and laws, and faith to believe that it was God alone who would save them from their sins and create a clean heart within them through the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of God’s people.  When God’s people trusted Him, no matter what, they were called His faithful bride.  By faith, they were to know that they were not forsaken or forgotten; He alone would redeem them and save them from their enemies.  Just as a young man marries a young woman, so shall we be married to our God; just as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall God rejoice over His people.

In our Gospel reading (John 2:1-11), we find Jesus, the Son of God in human flesh, a guest at a wedding party.  Wedding parties are to be celebrations; a time to celebrate not just the joining together of man and woman into one heart and mind, but just as much, a celebration that they are not two threads or strands that make a binding, but three.  It is the third strand that gives the cord it’s strength, and the third strand is God Himself.  Jesus was among His people to celebrate the joining together and to bless their marriage with His presence and approval.

Now, in the middle of this celebration of life, a problem arose; they ran out of wine.  If the bride and groom and the honored guests knew who it was that was celebrating with them, they would have no need for worry.  But Mary, Jesus blessed mother knew.  She knew that in her Son, God’s own power was with them.  She didn’t need to send someone to the local liquor store to get more; she knew that if God was pleased with their celebration, Jesus would continue to bless it.  So she came to Jesus and simply stated the facts: “They have no (more) wine.”  And then she did something wonderful; she shared the calming of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit with these simple words: “Do whatever He tells you.”

That profound advice to the party goers from Mother Mary is still great advice for us today; as a church, if we want to see divisions healed and the kingdom expand with power among us, we must also do whatever He tells us to do!

So, let’s go back to our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 12:1-11), and let the Holy Spirit tell us what the will of Jesus is.

In the first three versus, it becomes clear, God’s will is that we share in the same confession of faith, and that confession is that Jesus is Lord; He is God in human flesh.  He was born, lived among us as one of us, He suffered and died for our sins as a man, but He is also God.  He must be 100% God as well in order to rise from the dead and declare that all things have been made new.  He must be God in order to declare that your sins have been put away and you have been made right with your creator and redeemer.

In the early days of the church, a Roman citizen was required once a year to put a pinch of incense on an altar and say, “Caesar is Lord!”  For you Christians to be united with your brothers and sisters scattered throughout the world, you must agree that the very idea of declaring anyone or anything Lord over you is a cursed thing.  The Holy Spirit leads you to see that it is better to die for your faith than to confess trust and worship in anyone else but Jesus Christ.  And for us to be one in confession of faith, we will also see that it is only the Holy Spirit who can by the Word of God create this kind of faith within the heart of someone who calls themselves Christian.

In Verses 4-6, we see the church is much like the human body.  It has diversity and yet it has unity.  Our human members all differ from each other, they all work together for the health of the body.  In the spiritual body, Christ body on earth, the church, even our little congregation possess gifts which come directly from the Holy Spirit.  These gifts such as our time, talents, and treasures, some of which are listed in our lesson, can be found outside of the church, but here in Christ’s church, these gifts have been gathered and sanctified, that is they’ve been blessed by Jesus to give God glory and help advance His kingdom among us, in the middle of this sinful world, and within our community here in Encanto, within the City of San Diego, CA.

We have been blessed with so many spiritual gifts for two reasons, to serve God by being a blessing to each other and our community.  It is God’s will that each of us use our time, talent, and treasure, in a way that brings for His gift of forgiveness to a dying world.

Finally, in verses 7-13, we see a list of even more gifts that are not to be used to build or further our own reputations as individuals but to build up the church.  That is the gifts are to benefit the whole church.  Now as sinners, this can become problematic if we forget that (1) the Supreme Gift, that is the forgiveness of sins is not only the most important, but it is the very gift that unites us as one.  Each of us received this gift in the waters of our baptism, and each of us has the exact amount of “Holy Spirit” power to accomplish great things within the body of Christ.  It is this power of God that gives us other minor spiritual gifts as well, which are (2) the ministries of the church.  Through these ministries, Jesus blesses us with both natural and supernatural abilities and talents that both bless and change sinners into saints.  And all of these ministries have one thing in common; they are gathered and united around Word and Sacrament. (3) Then there are the spiritual offices, which are positions of trust within each local congregation.  What awful disasters have befallen various churches when their pastor comes among them not to bless God’s people, but to bless their own bank accounts!

(4) And finally, we find another kind of gift that we might call spiritual graces or miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Today, we hear a lot of talk among our brothers and sisters from other denominations, about faith healers and the outpouring of the Spirit that gives the gift of speaking in tongues.  I do not think that the intent of God’s message for us today is to dig to deeply in these minor and miraculous gifts, other than to say that if the minor gift becomes more important that the Supreme gift of forgiveness, then something is terribly wrong in the church.  If Christ’s gifts to His bride, causes division and not unity then we would not be worshiping a God of peace and unity, but a God who brings only division and chaos.  And if that is the kind of god some are worshiping, then we should want no part of that kind of god!

I find it fascinating that Jesus first miracle was at a wedding party.  I also find it fascinating that it was among a bunch of people who most likely had too much to drink already, and Jesus provided even more.  The point is not whether Jesus approves of drinking of wine, but that He is among those sinners who are drinking the wine.  He is a Savior who is interested and engaged in the simple things of life, even the pleasure and thirst of party guests.  Is that the kind of Jesus that most churches are comfortable worshiping?  Are you comfortable worshiping Him?

The point of His first miracle there in Cana was not to bless a party but to manifest His glory; that is Jesus was there to let sinful people know that He cared for and loved them; He wanted them to know that there is a God who is among His people.  And because of that miracle, many became His disciples and believed on Him.  Many were united and would become united in worship around a God who would and did save His people from their sins.

Let us pray… “Dear Jesus, you are no longer in the world as you once were, but you are in the world among us in your Word and Sacraments.  We thank you that even as you left in body to be with the Holy Father, you have kept us in your name, which you have given to us in our baptism, so that we may remain in you and be one with our brothers and sisters, even as you and the Spirit are one with the Father. Keep us we pray, as one, in your name, the name that the Father has given you.  Continue to guard us and keep us in your grace and concord, AMEN!

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ… AMEN!

Gladly Say It!

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Baptism of our Lord Year (C), January 13, 2013
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

Click here for audio of the Children’s Message

Click here for audio of the Sermon

“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”” [Luke 3:21, 22]

This morning we will explore two questions by looking at our two natures.  The two questions are: 1. Why was Jesus baptized?  (And) 2.  Why is your baptism such a big deal?

First, Jesus was baptized because it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness.  What I mean by that is, when He entered into the Jordan  that day to be baptized by John, He was announcing to this sinful world that His ministry to redeem and save it had begun; He was  announcing to all sinful men and the devils too that the promise of the Savior was being fulfilled and would be accomplished once and  for all by Him and Him alone.  When Jesus fulfilled all righteousness, He was declaring judgment upon the devil.  On that day He was  declaring to you that He would be your righteousness; you would be spared the final judgment for your sins because He would take the  punishment that you and your sins deserved.

Now this is both good news and bad news.  It is good news for you, that is for your new baptismal nature that God has given to you in  your baptism.  That new nature, the nature we identify as a saint, rejoices in this proclamation of righteousness.  Our sermon hymn, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” is in modern terms, the theme song of our baptismal life.  That new nature celebrates that Jesus has now sanctified the waters of baptism through the power of the Holy Spirit.  No one has to convince it that God is love and has saved it; it’s very existence makes this self-evident.   But you have another nature; your old sinful person that does not see this as good news, because it means that it must die.  This old nature will do everything it can to live.  That nature has many “theme songs”, but perhaps this one is one of the best.  (The song “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t want to be Right” by Luther Ingram plays.)

Our old Nature says, “If loving you is wrong, then I just don’t care about being right.”  The “you” in the song is a mistress in an adulterous relationship.  But in our lives, the mistress is anything that we call right, which God says is wrong.  Intimacy without marriage is wrong, and marriage is between a man and a woman God says; wrong says the sinful nature, if it feels good and makes me feel fulfilled, then it can’t be wrong.  In regards to our bodies, God’s Word says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a (great) price.  So glorify God in your body.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20]  “Wrong” says the sinful flesh of today’s modern woman, “A woman’s body is her’s alone and the life within her womb is hers to decide whether it will be born or not.”

God’s Word says, “Thou shalt not have any other god’s before or beside Me,” and our sinful flesh shakes it fist at the law of God, and follows the law of society which says, “If it feels good, just do it!”  So we as a people, as a nation pursue happiness at all costs because that is our right as one who is simply doing what feels good and seems right.  We pursue and procure all things that promise happiness and a better life.  “I have a right to this and a need for that.”  So we set out on the pursuit of things that this sinful world and our own sinful desires say are necessary.  And this pursuit that seems good right and salutary makes itself central to all things; and when our sinful nature becomes central to our existence, we become the god of our lives.  We can easily justify lying, stealing, coveting, and even murder, because after all, it makes us feel good.  So we agree, “If loving (this or that) is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.”

And God sees all of this and warns us that we are lost in sin, and if left on our own we are dead, forever lost and separated from Him because of our sins.  In His word, He shows not only our sinful fallen nature, but He also shows us the only way to ever be right with Him; He shows us our Savior, His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to us not just to show us the truth about our sins, but to pay for them.

Why was Jesus baptized?  So that through His Word, through His cross, and His empty tomb, we would know the truth and that truth would set us free.  So that through the same water that He Himself sanctified as He set His face to the cross, we would know that nothing can ever separate us again from the love of God.

Now that you have heard His truth, hear this truth also.  “Baptism, which corresponds to (the ark, which saved Noah and his family from the flood) now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” [1 Peter 3:21] “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” [Romans 6:4] This is why your baptism is a big deal!

It is God’s promise to those of you who are worried about your sin; those things which cause you to fear that God no longer cares for, or loves you.  When you are cut to the heart and don’t know how you will ever know peace with God, listen to St. Peter, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” [Acts 2:37-39]. You are baptized and your sins are forgiven, so continue to repent and turn to Jesus Christ alone!

For you who long to hear words of comfort, hear the gospel in our sermon hymn, and let it be your new nature’s theme song.  Let these Words speak to your heart.  Agree with God and shake your fist at the devil and your own old, sinful nature.

God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!  He, because I could not pay it, Gave my full redemption price.  Do I need earth’s treasures many?  I have one worth more than any, that brought me salvation free; lasting to eternity! Listen, I know my own self, and you know yourselves; we shouldn’t be God’s own child.  We know that in our old sinful nature, that is on our own, there is nothing worth loving or saving within us, and yet, God’s Word declares that He does love us and He has saved us through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son our Savior Jesus Christ.  That one gift is greater than anything the world has to offer.  Claim that gift that was first given to you in your baptism and rest in it forever!

Sin, disturb my soul no longer:  I am baptized into Christ!  I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.  Should a guilty conscience seize me since my Baptism did release me in a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood? We do have guilty consciences don’t we?  Well, let the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ give you peace.  Jesus died to bring forgiveness to the world, and in your baptism He came to give it to you personally.  You are forgiven!  Let that truth soak in and live out it’s truth.  Fight the sin that is within your old nature.  And when you fall into sin, don’t let that old nature trick you into thinking you have sinned beyond God’s ability to save.  Shut its mouth with the Word of God and continue to remind it that “you have been baptized into Christ Jesus and into His death.  The old nature was buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, you too might walk in newness of life.” [Romans 6:1-11]

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!  Drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed.  Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled, and, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me! So when the devil begins to throw your sins in your face, and when he taunts you with your weaknesses and doubts, even when he threatens you with the fear of hell, simply tell him, “Devil you go to hell because that is what you desire; as for me, I admit that I am a sinner, what of it?  You see I know of One who is greater than my sin and has conquered all of my fears and tormentors, even you!  His name is Jesus Christ, and where He is, there I will be one day with Him as well!”

Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!  When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!  Though I lie in dust and ashes faith’s assurance brightly flashes: Baptism has the strength divine, to make life immortal mine. We’ve talked about the fear of death quite a bit this last season of Advent, but it bears repeating.  A Christian who fears their own death because they are uncertain about what or where their life will be after they leave this sinful earth, is a Christian who has small faith and lacks the joy of their salvation.  But small faith, the size of a mustard seed is better than no faith.  God shall one day take that small faith and show you what miracles He can and will do with it.  You will behold your God one day with your own eyes; you and not another for you, and He will say, “Welcome baptized Christian, come and enter your Fathers heaven, and rest in a place that He has prepared for you.”

(So you see), There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!  Open-eyed (our) grave is staring: Even there (we’ll) sleep secure.  Though (our) flesh awaits its raising, still (our) souls continues praising: (We are) baptized into Christ; (We are) children of paradise! You are baptized dear saints.  Your old sinful nature will never gladly celebrate this truth, in fact it will fight it until your last breath.  It knows that it has lost, and it knows that it must die, but like the devil it will not go quietly.  Together, your old sinful nature and the devil want only to cheat you out of your inheritance, but if you will simply hold onto the promises of God, rest in the cross of Christ and your own baptism, you will be clothed with divine strength, which in the end will provide you with eternal life and everlasting peace with God.  It is that nature, with God’s means of grace protecting and providing for it, declares now and forever: “By baptism, I am God’s own child, and I will gladly say it!  AMEN!

I Will Not Keep Silent!

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Sanctity of Life Sunday, January 17, 2010
Click here for audio of this message
 

Grace, Mercy and Peace are yours, from God our Father and for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ!  AMEN

“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a burning torch.” [Isaiah 62:1]

INTRODUCTION:  A professor in a medical school once posed this medical situation — an ethical problem — to his students: “Here’s the family history: The father has syphilis. The mother has TB. They already have had four children. The first is blind. The second had died. The third is deaf. The fourth has TB. Now the mother is pregnant again.  So the parents have come to you for advice. They are willing to have an abortion, if you decide they should. What do you say?”

The students broke into small groups for “consultation.” All of the groups came back to report that they would recommend abortion.

“Congratulations,” the professor said, “You just took the life of Beethoven!”

Well that’s just a story pastor.  We live in the real world.  Ok, here’s a “real world” poll taken in New England, which revealed that, if parents were able to know these things in advance, 1 percent of them would abort a child on the basis of sex, 6 percent would abort a child likely to get Alzheimer’s disease, and an incredible 11 percent would abort a child predisposed to obesity.  In essence, they would abort many of us!

I.  Sin is sin.  God’s Word clearly identifies what is sinful and what is pleasing to Him.  There are no gray areas in God’s eyes, and yet we like to create these gray areas, don’t we?  We make the gray areas because we don’t like facing our own sinfulness.  Oh, and in case you think that claiming ignorance of God’s will might offer you some protection, listen to God answer you from the book of Proverbs: “If you say, “Surely we did not know this, “Does not He who weighs the heart consider it?  He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?  And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? [Proverbs 24:11-12]

Friends, we’ve been called by Jesus Christ, the living Word of God to be both His church and His voice of truth in this world of sin.  We are His prophets.  But before we can fulfill this role, we need to agree that God is right and we are wrong!  Now as your pastor, you have called me to speak and teach you that Word, so together we will hear His Word, be changed and strengthened by it, and then go out into our communities where we can be God’s salt and light.  Now here’s the fascinating part of this calling; if we are faithful, God assures us that to the world, we will be like a crown of beauty, a royal diadem in His hand.  In other words, we’ll bring Him glory here on earth!

Friends, if we are faithful in speaking for God to those we encounter, He promises that we will experience his blessings in a way that will change the very way we think and live.  In other words, God promises that through our obedience we will discover that we are not only precious in His sight, but we are in fact His delight.

II. But we have a slight problem; the enemy doesn’t want us to live out this new identity, so he’s set some traps in order to deceive us.  These traps come to us through the use of science and the sinful society we live in; a society that loves to call evil good and good evil.  But even if we successfully avoid these traps, the enemy still has one more trick up his sleeve; he intends to stop us by overwhelming us with so much opposition and anger that we’ll no longer see the good of speaking God’s truth to such an evil society.  In other words, he wants to demoralize us to the point where we just simply give up.  Now, this same tactic has been used by the enemy in the past with great success.  It’s called institutionalized sin—sins that have been accepted by our society as normal.  If you don’t believe this truth, just look back no farther than 150 years ago when the institution of slavery—the trafficking of human beings was considered normal.  And even after a bloody civil war that nearly destroyed our nation, that sin still remains and it is still trying to capture the hearts and minds of our children.  This hatred of others is a sin that places “self” as the ultimate authority, which in turn allows us to see some people as less than human.

Today we celebrate “Sanctity of Life” Sunday.  This is the day that we as a church have set aside to remind us that God has declared all human life precious in His sight; the unborn, born, and even those who are frail and near death.  But science and our society tell us something very different—they say that the unborn are merely potential life, and the old and frail are just a life that’s already been lived.  They would have us believe that neither can really be counted important.  But listen to God speak through the voice of the Psalmist and let the voice of our enemy the devil and this sinful society be silenced: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” [Psalm 139:13-18]   And if that’s not enough for you, listen to the living Word of God drive home the message through the Apostle Paul: “(Don’t) you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” [1 Corinthians 6:19-20] 

 Friends, you have heard God’s Word… you know that there are no gray areas.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.  Now God wants to send you out into this world as His burning torch of truth and salvation.  But you say, “Pastor what can I do?  It’s the law of the land; abortion is legal, right?”  Well do you have a mouth?  Then for the sake of the unborn and for the credibility of the church, speak out.  Use your mouth to change hearts and minds, and use your vote to change the law.  And all the while, God wants you to pray!  Pray for your leaders and pray for your neighbors, and then work against the enemies of God who joyfully lead others astray by convincing them to take a life through abortion.  Pray that God will change both their hearts and minds so that this evil will be erased from our society.  Listen to St. Paul’s advice; he says, ” First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” [1 Timothy 2:1-4]  Pray dear friends, pray and don’t grow weary of prayer.  Don’t give up in speaking the truth; don’t surrender in the fight.  Keep on doing what you know is right.  Listen to God’s Living Word, and then be decided in your heart that you will do what Jesus tells you!

 III. In our gospel reading this morning, Mary, the mother of God the Son, Jesus Christ had a dilemma.  She was one of the matrons, or sponsors responsible for the smooth operation of a wedding party.  But the wine was running low, and the party was still jumping!  Now granted, when compared to other real life issues, running out of wine means very little in the large scheme of things, but at the time it was important to Mary.  She had doubts and fears; so where did she go?  She went to Jesus!  Now the fact that she went to Jesus isn’t that fascinating, after all, Jesus is her son, but what happened next would change everything.  It would change the way faithful people live and it would change the way faithful people think!

 Have you ever wondered why Jesus called His own mother “woman” instead of “mother”?  “Jesus?  Son?”  Mary called.  “They are almost out of wine,” she says.  And to this Jesus answers, “Woman, what does this have to do with (you and) me?  My hour (or my time) has not yet come.”  Here friends, Jesus mother turns to her son as she undoubtedly did so many times before, but this time it is different…it’s a critical moment where ordinary help won’t suffice.  She knew that Jesus had no money and as a stranger in this town he had no connections.  Yet they needed wine.  So why turn to Jesus?  Because friends, she never forgot that her son was also the Son of God, the Messiah… her Savior.  You see, in this small dilemma, ordinary help would fail; they had neither the time nor the means to get more wine, so Mary knew she must look for extraordinary help.  Mary didn’t need familial help, she needed divine hope.  And to give this hope, Jesus must first eternally change her relationship with Him. 

 Friends, when Jesus called His mother woman, He was declaring to her that His position as a dutiful son was eternally ended.  He was telling her that from that moment on He would be assuming a much higher position; one as Savior and Redeemer.  And this divine work can only be done on God’s terms and in God’s time, not hers and not ours.  Like Mary, we too must learn that if we really want divine hope and help, we must first recognize who Jesus really is.  It is Jesus, the Son of God, together with the Father, and the Holy Spirit alone who determine when and how God will miraculously intervene—even in hopeless situations!

 Friends, it was this first miraculous sign from Jesus—turning water into wine—that would forever direct both Mary and the entire church to ask and receive all things through Jesus Christ alone, and then simply and trust that He would act according to His time!  It is in Him alone that we are to place our trust.  And with this new truth, Mary has a new teaching to share with her assistants at the party and with us…

 “Do whatever He tells you.” [John 2:5b]  Do you understand what this means friends?  It means that we must do whatever God’s Word says.  What God’s Word calls good, we are to call good.  What He calls sinful and evil we are to say also.  In His Word alone, we are to live, breath, and find our existence and fulfillment.  Yet we still sin daily.  We sin against God and we sin against each other.  Since this is most certainly true, it is critical that we hear what comes next.  It there is anyone here this morning who has in the past had an abortion, assisted with or counseled for an abortion, performed an abortion, or has simply been indifferent to abortion, let God speak to your heart.  Let His Spirit convince you that abortion is a sin?  Has He shown you that it is your sin?  Are you sorry for this sin and all others that you have committed and do you sincerely repent of them?  Is it your intention to agree with God that this is an evil that must be defeated… that was defeated upon the cross of Jesus Christ?  Do you desire to be free of this evil now and for all eternity? 

Dear friends, because Jesus has defeated both the devil and all evil through His death upon the cross, and because He has given this victory to you through the washing of the water and the Word in your own baptism, hear the sweet words of the gospel, the forgiveness of your many sins.  You are forgiven!  You no longer need to live in shame and reproach.  Through God’s Holy work alone He has taken away your sorrow and shame and He has given you a new name…. you are called Christian.  You are a child of faith!  As a member of the Holy Christian Church you are now the beloved bride of Jesus Christ Himself!

Now dear saints, as the beloved bride of Christ, hear the words of mother Mary fresh and new… “Go, and do whatever our Lord tells you.”  What is He telling us?  Speak up for those who have no voice!  Call evil what it is!  Don’t be afraid of the ungodly, because they will soon have their punishment handed down to them.  Instead, speak up and speak out to those who will hear the Word of God and repent, just as you have.  Join your pastors and the whole church and preach Christ Himself and His Holy Word until He comes again to judge the living and the dead.  Do whatever God’s Word tells you because He is your salvation, and let politics and this sinful society be damned!

Let this world and our sinful society see our Holy God’s righteousness shine through each of us as individuals and as His church so that all may see us as justified and equipped by God for this battle—not with the laws of man but with the highest law there is… the Living Word of God!

CONCLUSION: Dear friends, do whatever Jesus tells you.  Repent and be baptized.  Repent and believe you’ve been forgiven and changed.  This is the message we are to speak to our neighbors and even to our elected leaders.  Let’s speak this message in our conversation and let’s speak it through the ballot box.  We will not be silent… because we cannot be silent.  Yes we’ll be ridiculed and marginalized, but as I said in the beginning of this message, we must speak out, because we are God’s crown of beauty and we are a holy and royal diadem in His hand.  We alone can bring Him glory, because we alone are called by a new name…. Christian!  Jesus we are yours… save us!  AMEN!