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Archive for January 13th, 2010

Extravagant Grace

I have been the beneficiary of God’s extravagant grace this week.  I’ve pondered many different angles from which I could write this week’s sermon.  But ultimately (and especially during this tiring week) I have to preach from where I am and from what is going on in my life.  That’s the only way I’m going to pull this off with my son still home sick.  It’s also the most genuine, honest approach I can take to a task that so often calls upon me to tear myself open from the pulpit and reveal my own struggles, my own darkness, my own life of faith.

So this week I’m going to focus on Jesus’ act of changing the water into wine at the wedding in Cana as an act of extravagant grace.  Jesus’ miracle was an act of grace because he didn’t have to do it.  No harm would come to Jesus if the wine ran out at this wedding.  Jesus’ miracle was an act of grace because he didn’t even want to do it.  “What concern is that to you and me?” he says to Mother Mary who not-so-subtly suggests that he save the party.  Jesus’ miracle was an act of grace because it really wasn’t worth his time and his talent.  He really did have more important things to be doing…more important signs and miracles to be performing.  But, in spite of all these good reasons not to save the party…and save the hosts from social shame and embarrassment….Jesus did it anyways.  Grace.

Grace really doesn’t make much sense when you stop to think about it.  It isn’t fairly or rationally distributed.  Remember the laborers in the field?  We receive it some times (miraculously) when we absolutely need it.  But other times God and God’s grace seem to pass us right on by.  And it really is quite extravagant…meaning lavish, expensive, and even wasteful…as my online thesaurus says.  120 – 180 gallons of wine, Jesus?  Now that’s lavish, expensive, and yes, even wasteful (a couple of wedding parties would be needed to drink all of that wine!)  So grace doesn’t really make much sense.  Which is perhaps why it feels so darn amazing when we receive it.

This week I was the recipient of extravagant grace.  I don’t want to go into all the details….but let’s just say it was a bad week.  Certainly, there are others who are having worse weeks.  Certainly, there are others who are more deserving of God’s grace than me.  (Again, grace doesn’t make sense.)  But I received it this week.  And I can’t thank God enough.

The tragedy (in my mind) of John’s story is that the bride and the bridegroom and the chief steward don’t ever seem to realize how Jesus saved them and their party.  How often we don’t recognize God’s extravagant grace when we receive it.  Or how often we recognize it but don’t appreciate it like we should….appreciate it for all its extravagance…appreciate it for the way it fills us and frees us like 120 gallons of really, really good wine.

May the words of my mouth, the meditations of my mind, and the feelings of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Amen.

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