Posts Tagged ‘division’

One Baptism—One Body

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Epiphany 3-C
January 27, 2019
Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor of
Trinity Lutheran Church
San Diego, CA 92114

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“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” [1 Corinthians 12:13b]

First Corinthians is a letter, or an epistle from St. Paul to a church that God created out of nothing in a pagan city called Corinth.  In this letter, Paul continually reminds the Corinthians that they need to strive for unity within the body of Christ (12:12), because in God’s design there is only one body or Church, and one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism [12:4 ff., 13]. And yet, Paul has discovered the very opposite thing is being displayed in their church!  Instead of unity, there are divisions and factions.  Paul’s intention then, is to unite those factions and remove the confusion that’s been caused by bad doctrine or teaching.  If they will listen and follow God’s Word then it will be God Himself who will unite them! God would unite the Corinthians the same way he unites us, by reminding each of us of our own baptism.  Our baptism then reminds us that while we may be many members, we are all part of one body—while we may be many congregations, we are but one Church!

(vs. 12-13) Friends, Christ’s church, our church, is like the human body.  

Let’s consider the human body for a moment.  Within our bodies we see the very picture of unity and completeness through a lot of individual parts. Now, this is also true with Christ’s body, the Church. To illustrate this truth, Paul begins with the oneness of the body and then proceeds to its many parts through these words: “the body is one and has many members”; he then goes backward from the many parts to the oneness of the whole by saying: “and all the members of the body, being many, are one body.” And throughout His body, Jesus is always present and active in each one of us!  How?  Through God’s mysterious work done in each of our own baptisms.

In Holy Baptism friends, each one of us was baptized “in” one Spirit, the Holy Spirit in union with God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ.  Our baptism is a vital connection with Jesus. In our baptism, God’s Spirit is always present and always making a spiritual change within us—a change, which creates a new spiritual life within us and maintains a right spiritual relationship first with God, and then with the other members of Christ’s Church.  This mystical union of Christ with the church friends, is our true union with God. It’s a union that is identical within each of us, and it is also identically sustained within each of us through Christ’s own Word and sacraments.

Now, think about what this truth must have meant to the Corinthian church, and then think about what it means for us.  “Jews are equal to pagan Greeks?”  Friends, do you see how in Christ’s body… the Church, all members of the human race have been drawn together into Christ and then melted and fused together into one indistinguishable whole? What was lower than a slave, human property with almost no rights? Yet Paul is telling those rich folks and property owners, many of whom owned slaves, that their slaves are their equals! Christ is in their slaves just as he is in them… they are one!  It’s quite the wakeup call isn’t it?  The same is true with us friends; through our baptism, we are one with the butcher, the baker, the president, the junkie, the homeless, the parent and the child.  People of all races and back grounds, through their baptisms are “one body” just like the physical human body.

Now with this central truth stated about our physical bodies and the church, think of how ridiculous it would be if a toe no longer wanted to be part of the foot, or an eye thought that it was better than the ear.  We need all of our body parts to function the way God designed them so that we can have a complete and healthy body, and this is also the truth with Christ’s body the church! 

(Vs. 14-20) So why do some members of Christ’s Church feel inferior and jealous of others if all of us are baptized into the same body?  

To answer this question, let’s first go back to Paul’s illustration of the human body.  Why does the ear say, “Because I am not an eye, I’m not important so that must mean that I’m not really part of the body?”  Do the ears feelings change the fact that it truly is part of the body?  All of its griping won’t change a thing. It’s not only useless; it’s foolish, because the body can’t be just one member!  We need each member because each member has its own function. Wouldn’t it be foolish if the foot tried to grasp something or shake hands with somebody when it’s real purpose is to help the body walk and move from one place to another?  The same is true about an ear that wants to be an eye when the body really needs it for hearing.  This unity in diversity friends is what makes the body whole and functioning.  Instead of complaining about what it isn’t, each part should celebrate what it is, because without each part, the body wouldn’t be whole.  This is also true about each member of Christ’s church and our congregation. Suppose a member were actually what these complainers say: not a part of Christ’s body—well what would it be? Jesus answered this question clearly; He said it would be a dead branch, fit only to be burned. Dear friends, instead of wishing we were someone else or something “better,” we should thank God for the place he has assigned to us and then work with the Holy Spirit to do our part not only expertly but also joyfully!

Doesn’t all of this jealousy and envy sound like foolishness?  After all, wasn’t it “God (who) arranged (all of) the members in the body, each one of them, (just) as He chose(?) (If each of us were the same member), where would the body be?  (So, you see friends), there are many parts, yet one body.” [vs. 18-20]   All of this is part of God’s divine work of creation!  He did it all according to His will when He formed the human body and when He created His church!   He desired that both bodies would consist of many members. Each one He set into its perfect place within the body. Do we really want to find fault with what God did? Do we really have the audacity to think that we can improve on His work? 

Well, the fact stands: God made the true Church what it is and He made you as you are for a purpose… now we must live out that purpose as He leads us!

(Vs. 21-26) Ok, but then why do some people act like they’re superior or better than others?  Or as Paul says, 

“Why does the eye say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” or the head to the feet, “Go away, you’re not needed”?  Why indeed and here we go again!  Once again there’s grumbling within the body; but this time it’s a different kind of grumbling.  Now it’s the eye and the head’s turn to voice their sinful feelings, each looking down on a different body part and thinking that they’re better than the other parts.  One looks down on the hand, and the other is looking down on the feet.  What’s going on here?  There seems to be trouble throughout the body!  And this is what Paul is saying about the church at Corinth.  And so we see him expertly using God’s law to attack their habit of looking down on others.  

 Let me ask you a question: When are we more likely to look down on others?   I think the answer is when we think that they’re not in our class!  Social status, education, health, and many other conditions fuel our disdain for others!  We’re inclined to look down on others when we feel that their talents or position seems lower than our own. To illustrate this, Paul lets the eye and the head speak. Now, because the eye is able to reach out to great distances it looks down on the hand which can only grasp what is in arms reach. And because the head is placed so high above all of the other members, it is prone to look down with disdain on the feet, which are dutifully plodding away on the hard and dirty streets below! So you see, those who have been given what seems to be greater gifts and talents might be tempted to foolishly think that they don’t need those who have what appears to be inferior gifts and talents, but in reality, once again each of us must remember that we are not individuals but part of a whole.  What each part has is only part of the whole body… a body designed by our Creator!

But what about our more humble parishioners; the very old, the sick, and the disabled?  Paul compares them with our private body parts; the ones we keep hidden—the parts that we might be ashamed of?  Listen to what he says: “And on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” [vs. 23-26] 

I pray that God will help each of us both desire and work together to ensure this very thing, and He will if we simply remember that it was the Creator who put all of us in our proper place within His Church and within this congregation!  But…

(Vs. 25-30) What if we find ourselves having trouble living out this truth, this Divine balance? 

How are we to be saved from this terrible sin that seeks to divide us?  Well friends, God does this very thing by taking each of us back to our own baptism—back to the truth of our equal standing as sinners before Him, and then through that same Word, He reminds each of us that He equally forgives us all of our many sins.  In this way, as members of God’s church, God assures each of us that we are equally loved by Him.  And friends, God wants us to demonstrate that same forgiving love and care to others who are also members of His church.  With His Holy Spirit living within us, He reminds us that if one of us suffers, then all of us suffer together; if one member is honored, then all of us will celebrate together. 

Let’s look to our own bodies one more time to illustrate this truth: If our foot is in pain, even if it’s the little toe, won’t our eye immediately look to see what’s wrong?  And won’t we use our fingers to hold it and caress it, as our face twists in pain and our whole body bends over to assist in its care?  And as the entire body is caring for this one ailing part, the entire body is benefited when the pain is soothed!   

Dear friends, isn’t it a blessing to be part of a body where “if one member suffers, all members suffer together, and if one member is honored, all members rejoice together?” 

Rejoice dear friends in the truth that Christ’s suffering and death upon the cross was equally given to each of us within the waters of our own baptism—for you see it is the same sin that was covered, but more than covered, it was the same sin that was drowned and destroyed.  It is that same sin that equally drives each of us to the font with the same need and the same identity… beggars in need of God’s grace.  And as we remember this truth let’s also rejoice together in yet another truth…He is still giving us that same grace through His Word and His Holy Supper!  Praise God dear friends!  Praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…AMEN!

A Gospel That Causes Division

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Pentecost 13C, August 18th, 2013

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“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” [Luke 12:51]

It appears that Jesus prophecy has been proven true.  Look around; all over there seems to be very little unity, but instead there is division.  Let me show you what I mean.

Who do you support in Egypt, the supposed democratically elected militant Muslim government in Egypt or the supposed temporary Military imposed government, which only wants to bring back economic stability?  Are you a democrat or a republican?  Are you for more social “welfare” programs or do you favor “work-fare”.   Should the Word of God determine what is or is not a legitimate marriage, or is it merely a social institution regulated by government?

In case I did not peak your interest yet, let me try hitting a little closer to home.  Are you for open communion at the Lord’s table for all who are baptized, or is it something that should only be shared by those who are walking together in doctrine?  Wait, one more example if I may.  Should women be allowed to preach and teach in the church?

Now for some people, these questions are open for discussion and even vigorous debate.  For others, these things are easily answered; in fact they would say that the Word of God has already answered them.  But what do you do when there are equally sincere people, each proclaiming to have answers centered on the counsel of God.  Who do you listen to?

This morning, through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:1-29), God answers us.  Listen: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” [v. 16]

The Lord’s advice was then, and is today, direct and simple, “Do not listen [to them].” The prophets in Judah were not preaching messages from the Lord. That was plain to see, for what they were saying contradicted everything the Lord had said in the rest of his Word.  Where God demanded repentance, the false prophets had repeatedly called for tolerance of sin.  When God condemned the worship of false Gods, the false prophets instead counseled an acceptance of false worship so that peace and harmony could be sustained.  And now, here is Jeremiah prophesying the impending punishment of God; the captivity of the Jews. And how did the false prophets of glory and prosperity respond?  They accused Jeremiah, the true prophet of God as being a false prophet.  And to this conflict, to this division God proclaimed: “And when your people say, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?’ you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve foreigners in a land that is not yours.'” [Jeremiah 5:19]

The false prophets gave false hope to those who despised and refused to believe the Lord’s Word. They encouraged the sinner to remain in his sin by making it seem less sinful. They dismissed God’s threatening judgment with the words “no harm will come to you”—hell and damnation are mere delusions of the false preacher. They were the false prophets, because they gave false hope; they left the impenitent with the impression that their sin was no big deal; God didn’t care. So, according to them, there was no need to worry about repentance.  Don’t worry, be happy!

But Jeremiah was a true prophet of God.  He had stood in the council of the Lord, and what He heard God say He was compelled to repeat.  If the people then and the people today listened to the Word of God, they would not have missed the heart of all of God’s Word, the center of all Scripture: Repent! The Lord means what he says!  Or as God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” [Ezekiel 18:4] Salvation and righteousness are found in the Lord alone and in the Word that brings his forgiveness.

So how can we take this message from our Old Testament lesson and apply it to our lives today?  What determines whether a prophet or teacher’s message can be trusted?  Well it all depends on where the message comes from.  Is it’s origin from within the desires of their own hearts or is it a message from the heart of God?

When I was a teenager, my friends and I use to be guilty of playing pranks on people.  Many of our ideas came from television programs like, “Candid Camera.”  One day, on a busy downtown sidewalk, we decided to play the prank, “Look Up!”  It went like this: One of us would stand in the middle of the sidewalk looking up into the distant sky.  Another would come and stand next to him and ask “What are you looking at?”  The first prankster would point up.  Then another of our team would join the ranks as the first two pointed up.  Then another and another.  What always happened was a gathered and growing crowd would each invite additional people into the group by pointing up.  Eventually, we pranksters would slip out of the crowd, back away and crack up with laughter as we watched those clueless people watching nothing.

So what are you looking at?  I could ask you the same question about what you think our Epistle text (Hebrews 11:17-40) wants us to look at.  Are we supposed to look at and admire those heroes of the faith, and see them as great role models?  If that’s what we are looking at then I’m afraid we are in for disappointment.  You see those great heroes of the faith weren’t any better than you and me; they too were sinners.  They too needed to repent of their sin and lack of trust in God’s care.  Moses, that mighty man of God who led God’s people out of Egypt also doubted God’s decision to use him.  David, the Lord’s mighty king who was declared to be a man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and murderer.  The list of disappointments goes on and on through out the pages of scripture.  In too many instances to recount, the mighty people of God often had their eyes of things other than God’s call to repent and to trust in Him alone.  Instead of placing their eyes of faith on the promises of God, they had cast their gaze upon things that satisfied their own desires and wants.  Like us today, they just couldn’t find time to listen to God; they were too busy running away from things that frightened them, and running to things that promised security and peace.

So what is the point?  Well the point is to answer the question, “What were those heroes of faith looking at and trusting in?  What are you looking at?  What is it that you are trusting in?”  And the answer is of course, we must look to and trust in only Jesus!  The heroes of faith all knew and trusted the promise of God that a Savior would come to make all sinful things in this world right.  Each time their hearts were turned away from the promise of the coming Savior, God’s Word redirected their gaze back to Him and His promise of redemption.  And today, this morning, we do the very same thing.

We who are sinful agree with God that He is right and we are wrong.  We too allow the Word of God to show us our sin and we too repent.  But we do not turn to the promise of a coming Savior, we turn to a Savior who has already come and set us free. He is a Savior who promises that He will come again to take us home!  When the heroes of faith repented, they turned to God’s promise of mercy and forgiveness.  When we, who are God’s heroes of faith today, repent, we turn to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Do you want to know what Jesus was looking at when He was dying upon the cross?  He was looking at you!  Your life of faith; your struggle to hold on to Him and Him alone as your only true hope of pleasing God and knowing the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  For you, and the “joy set before Him, (He) endured the cross, despising its shame, and is (now) seated at the right hand of God.” [Hebrews 12:2]

How does this change things?  It gives you hope.  Hope to continue following Jesus; hope to agree with the Word of God, even when it means disagreeing with family, friends, and even the entire community.  It means even in the middle of divisions, which the painful consequences of sin cause, you are not alone.  Jesus is watching and helping.  He cares and He will prove it to you!  Hold on; cling to Jesus.  Look to His cross and trust that His Word and His will is ultimately and always what is best for you.  Lay aside your sin that clings so closely to you and look to where He took that sin… the cross!  Look to your baptism as the day He taught you to look up at His death, resurrection, and ascension.  You are clean and free.  Run your race of faith but know that you aren’t running alone, even when the devil and the sinful philosophies of this world tell you otherwise.  Yes, Jesus is right there beside you, but then so are those great heroes of faith; so are we, the rest of the saints who agree with God and repent daily by turning to Jesus.

Who do we listen to?  We listen to Jesus even if it means division!  Yes of course we listen to Jesus, but which prophet of God is the right one?  Well, it’s the one that consistently speaks the message of repentance… the message of the cross.  The one who agrees with God’s Word in all things, and calls a sinful thing sinful, and a God pleasing thing good.  I pray that this message brings you clarity and peace, and I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!

Surprise!

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

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

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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!