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Corinthians 12:1–11, John 2:1–11

In a moment... I am going to invite you to a party.

But first I want to slip back into last week’s sermon,
and remind you that you are precious; you are honoured; you are loved.
God has called you by name.

I found a poem while doing research this week
that I just couldn’t leave... it called to me and blessed me.
I have shared it with many others and I share it now with you.

It is about prayer...

God is mindful

by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

As you sit in prayer
and try to remain mindful of God,
failing because your thoughts wander,
remember this:
that God is perfectly mindful of you always,
attentive to your being and your doing,
never straying from your heart,
not missing a single breath,
or forgetting a single heartbeat.

God is never distracted, never forgets.
Without neglecting anything else in Creation,
for all of Creation is present in God,
God is fully present to you,
seeing not from afar but from within
your journeys, thoughts and feelings,
holding tenderly your sins and wounds,
delighting in your gifts and beauties,
fully aware of what you yourself
only dimly suspect deep within you.

God is in all that you see, and in your seeing,
in what you hear, and in your hearing,
in your wondering, in your sorrow, in your awe.
God is grateful for you, and delights in you.
God longs in you, grieves in you, exults in you.

God gives full, peaceful, loving attention to you
all your day and all through the night,
not controlling or manipulating,
just beholding, blessing, loving
and breathing life into you,
powerful, joyful, beautiful, infinite life,
granting you mindfulness,
and mindful always of you.

Now... about the party!

It’s the kind of party that you wait all day for.
You know, that all the people you love are going to be there.

There will be no pressure to be anyone you are not,
you will be loved for exactly who you are.

It will be relaxed and fun and no-one will be pushy or bossy,
or cause any trouble, so no rules will be needed.

There will be lots of food, the kind you like,
even food that is good for body and soul.

Everyone will like the food, in fact, everyone will find
their very favourite food at this party,
and everyone will be more than satisfied.

And if you drink wine, your favourite wine... make and year,
will be there. Your favourite soda… or sparkling water will be there.
If you like beer...
the best beer you have ever had will be found at this party.

At this party, I will be able to enjoy –
a Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky aged at least 18 years.
The glass will fit my hand, and even the aroma will make me smile.
No ice... Scotch, Neat!

At the wedding party that Jesus attended
with his disciples and his Mother...
the wine was all gone before the party was over.

How exactly the events reported took place,
we will never really know, but soon the guests were drinking
more wine... really good wine.

And there weren’t just a few bottles or a single keg or jar of wine.
Rather there were over 120 gallons of wine.

Changing water into wine seems like some kind of a miracle,
but the writer of this Gospel, known as John....
names this as a sign.

He writes... ‘Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee,
and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.’   (John 2:11)

A sign does not draw attention to itself but
rather points us toward something else.

The wonderful thing about this sign,
is not that Jesus was able to turn water into wine,
but that Jesus gave us a sign to point the way.

He pointed to a new way... a new way to live.... abundantly!

Society in the time of Jesus was ruled and regulated and restricted.
So much was forbidden or not accessible.

So the writer of the Gospel of John shares this wonderful story,
of abundance and generosity, early in the telling about the life of Jesus,
as a sign.

Jesus came so that we might have life, and live it abundantly!

Live abundantly, celebrate life, give your heart to others,
lean deeply into the Spirit and know to whom you belong.

I believe that our understanding and celebration of our spiritual gifts
can increase our abundant living, and bless the living of others.

In his First Letter to the disciples in Corinth,
Paul names 9 gifts of the Spirit, all given for the common good.

The utterance of wisdom
The utterance of knowledge
Gifts of healing
The working of miracles
Discernment of spirits
Various kinds of tongues
The interpretation of tongues

One Spirit... One God... the same Lord Jesus.

As we share our gifts with one another,
we increase our common good... our abundant life.

The image of wine flowing, with goodness and life being shared,
is so freeing.

Jesus’ first sign points to a new way of being and relating.
A freedom from boundaries and rules.

It speaks to gallons of Grace and gallons of forgiveness.
Gallons of joy and gallons of new possibilities in our relationships with God.

This new way makes us free to love, and is full to the brim....
Good News indeed.

This new way of Jesus’ is a way of joy, happiness,
justice and hope.

God refuses to give up on what God has created.
And rather than make it all about the rules
God has decided to love us into the fullness of life.

Grace is God’s solution to the evil in the world.
And in spite of our foolishness, our ineffectiveness, our mistakes, our brokenness;
God is going to keep on loving us.....

Not because of who we are or what we might accomplish,
but because of who God is
and what God can accomplish through loving us.

Gallons and gallons of grace,
designed to overwhelm us with the sheer magnitude of God’s love
so that we can’t help but love
in response to all that amazing grace.

That’s the Good News! That’s a reason for a party!

God is love and God loves us!

You don’t have to look any further than Jesus
to understand just how much God loves us.
We can see the way, sharing abundant life,
when we look at the life of Jesus,
and how Jesus embodied love.

When we embrace the gifts of the Spirit,
and respond to Grace with a love like Jesus loved;
then the gallons and gallons of grace, forgiveness and joy,
will overflow and set abundant life spinning.

That is Good News!
That is reason for a party!

Now there are some people that will find all sorts of excuses
for not coming to the party.... not being a part of a church congregation.

In many ways, we have made a mess of Church,
and a mess of Christianity...
and even turned some of the party wine into vinegar!

We forgot that the Good News is about abundant life,
and we tried to make others be like us, instead of us all following Jesus.

We made rules that put God in a box,
and shattered the relationship with Creation.

We almost forgot that the news is Good!

The first sign of Jesus points to abundant life.
The Good News of God’s grace can be heard and felt and lived.

May how we live out our Mission, here at United Churches of Langley,
also be a sign pointing to the way of the Christ,
that all may know that God offers the gift of abundant life.

May how we all share our spiritual gifts, point to abundant living.

Gallons of Grace and gallons of forgiveness.
Gallons of joy and gallons of new possibilities in our relationships with God.

Abundant life flowing, and flowing …
and over-flowing.