Unexpected Places - Sermon for 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, 2013

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Sermon notes from 2nd Sunday after Epiphany (Year C) 


Text for Epiphany +2: John 2:1-11


Click here for an Audio of Sermon


Something has been weighing on my mind over the last couple of weeks. I've had some encounters that have been taking up a lot of real estate in my head.


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Last week I was getting on the BART at Civic Center station. Didn't think about it.


Tuesday, I got off at Macarthur. $16 ticket for 8 dollars. I began to get angry as I walked off.


Now, I have no clue where this BART pass came from. I mean, after all, he could be an ordinary person who made a serious mistake and needed the cash. But having been involved with people in need, no, having been in need myself, I know that people give out BART tickets regularly...

And so, I immediately convicted him, in my head, of being a fraud, a person who asked for money to get somewhere, and some honest, well meaning person bought a $20 BART pass and he used it for one ride and was trying to get the cash for the rest. And I thought about the man trying to sell a package of socks.


And it doesn't matter what their own unique and individual stories are. It doesn't matter what a good Christian is supposed to do in the same situation, it only served to remind me that there are lots of people who take advantage of the charity and good nature of churches and organizations to serve the poor, the needy, the homeless, and at that moment I only see, not children of God but people who are caught up in dependence and are taking advantage of a system that I am a part of, and that I am supposed to shepherd good Christians into participating.

And I get frustrated.

And there are moments I wonder what's it all for? Why do we even bother?


And there is something very wrong with my ability to see any good at those moments, and why won't God reveal himself at those moments? The answer may come from a very unexpected source.


Today, is the 2nd week of Epiphany, we've unexpectedly stepped in the Gospel of John to talk about Jesus revealing himself in a very unusual place.


We expect to find Jesus at a temple, we expect to find Jesus preaching on a rock or gathered in homes teaching. But a wedding feast?


And when we hear that Jesus and his mother were invited, and all the disciples as well, I can assure you that the host did not know who he was inviting, but it was a good thing that Jesus was there.


Now, I know that we like to have weddings in churches, and that a couple will make sacred vows to one another, but let me assure you, that a wedding is a very secular occasion. And even the most high flying weddings I've been to with the most angelic music have had a rip-roaring celebration to follow. There is very little sacred about a bunch of people getting drunk and stuffing themselves with food and cake and flinging good-humored insults at the bride and groom. And I bet that a lot of us have been to weddings that have gone in a direction nobody expected.


Has anyone seen a reality show called Bridezillas? I had heard about it but never seen it, so I spent an hour watching clips of it the other day...sermon research, of course... and it's amazing what people under pressure on to have their perfect day do.


So this wedding that Jesus went to, that people were already having a good time. Because of what the Steward said, "You have saved the good wine until later..." We know the good wine is already gone! And the cheap wine is already gone. These guests are already drunk, and longing for more.


So when his mother tells Jesus they need more wine, and Jesus basically blows her off. "Woman. What is that to you or me? My time is not yet come." I'm sure the servants were a little perplexed. Confused. Even more so when his mother says "Do what he tells you." Wait, what? But they follow his instructions. Fill the water jugs with water. Draw some out and give them to the steward. And unexpectedly, there is wine. And wine of such a quality that the steward thinks the host has been holding out.


God has transformed the unexpected into something wonderful. God has turned the ordinary into something extraordinary. But he's done more than that. You know those water jars that the servants filled? Those were meant for ritual purification, in order that observant Jews may be cleansed before eating. In transforming the water into wine, God has taken something sacred and made it accessible to everyone who partakes of it. Without even their knowledge.

That's one of the biggest things that's going on in this passage! God has done this amazing thing under the table, in secret, only the disciples know, and the servants, and his mother. But his blessing is there, in front of everyone!


God has transformed this water into wine, and those that see it know that he is who he is. The disciples saw and believed!


But God is in everything. Everything around us, everything we see, everything we do, has been made a part of God's dispensation. So what if we were able to look at things that way?


What if we can look at everything God has made and see it for that. Look at things differently, see how God is a part of everything, sanctifying it and filling it and making the mundane holy, and making the holy accessible to all of us?


When we know that God has already transformed everything around us, that God is there in everything we put into our body and everything that we do and see, God is there in the doors and lockers of our high schools and the plazas of our university, God is there all around us in our cubicles in Silicon Valley or and our desks at City Hall. God is there in the staff of the unemployment office and the Veteran's Affair building and in the pharmacy of City Hospital.


God is there on I-280 and the San Francisco Oakland Ferry and on MUNI and on BART.


When we can look at see how God has already given his dispensation on everything we can see or hold or touch, it becomes that much easier to treat everything with respect and reverence and awe.


Once we realize that God has already been there, in those ordinary moments, giving meaning to those events, we can start to look at them a different way. I don't have to sit there and say: "what bother?" because here, in Mary's words, "Do what he tells you to" we are given instructions on how to live out that gift of Grace that god has provided. "Do what he tells you to."


Love God. Love your neighbor. Help the helpless. Without condition or expectation. Because the real transformation we live in his blood, is we become aware that everything we see and touch has been previously touched by God,


When I'm walking home from the Macarthur BART station, and someone tries to sell me $16 of a formerly $20 BART ticket for $8, God is there unexpectedly turning up in that BART ticket, and on the face in his own image of the man asking to sell it. And what we do at moments like that, we can make our decision knowing that no matter how we reached that point, God has been there the entire time, unexpectedly? And I know that whether or not he's selling that ticket to pay for his next fix or his next meal, I know that I can still buy a BART ticket for someone or buy someone socks or a meal, knowing that God's dispensation is on that action, and that the transformation I have had by his blood has given me the ability to live out that dispensation. 

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This page contains a single entry by Cary Bass-Deschenes published on January 20, 2013 7:00 PM.

Epiphany of Change - Sermon for Epiphany 2013 was the previous entry in this blog.

Status: I'm Fasting--Sermon for Ash Wednesday 2013 is the next entry in this blog.

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