The Wedding at Canaan
Psalm 104: 1-18
. John 2: 1-1214/1/18
Every now and again I come up with a deep theological question that I think many people need to answer. It might be an awkward question, might be an embarrassing question, but just because it is awkward and embarrassing doesn't mean that it should be avoided.
So here is the question.
When was the last time you cared for the rock-badger?Do any of you even know what a rock-badger looks like?Let’s be really honest here. Can any of you remember the rock-badger even being mentioned in the bible readings?
This is a Rock-badger. As you can see they are not endowed with armour. They don't have prickly spines to defend themselves. They do not have poisonous fangs to protect themselves. They are basically a fur ball of protein for predators to attack and kill.They protect themselves by living in packs and having a sentry that looks out for eagles that might swoop down on them. When the sentry sees an eagle it alerts the others and they scamper into the crevices of the cliffs where the eagles can’t get them.
But that is dependent on there being crevices in the cliffs that they can live and hide in.
So what is the theological point of all this?
The theological point of all this is that sometimes the only people we care about is ourselves. And we are so wound up with ourselves and our own care that we forget that there is a God that cares for us and for others.
The Palmist points out the greatness of a God that is so much bigger than we can imagine, that has the capacity to care for things we don’t even notice. Things like rock-badgers that have no defence system.Why is that important?
This is a picture of my granddaughter Jessica. Jessica is a typical 5 month old baby. She sleeps, she eats, she fills nappies, she grows and then it all starts over again.What she doesn't have at this time in her life is a care for her parents. She might love her parents in her own way, and she loves to see them smile. But she doesn't see it as part of her responsibility to help them be happy in any way what so ever.
When she is pouting like this there is one thought you can see in her head,‘Why are you not doing something to make me happy? You have never understood what I am going through, you don’t realise how hard my life is. You cannot comprehend how hard my life is, if you did then you would do something about it.’
And the truth of the matter is so much different. Her parents are so much older and wiser than she is.They know exactly what she needs, and they have the wisdom to know that they need to give her what she needs and not necessarily what she wants.
Jessica at the age of five may WANT a phone, but does she NEED a phone?Jessica at the age of seven may WANT to be on Facebook, but does she NEED to be on Facebook?Jessica at the age of nine may WANT to go to a party that finished at midnight, but does she NEED to be at a party that ends at midnight?
And I am sure, like every other child that lived, that when Jessica doesn’t get what she wants, but what she needs, that she will not thank her family. She will pout, she will scream, she will take tantrums, she will cut herself off from her parents, she will rebel.
And worse than all of that, she will not realise that what her parents do is out of love, because she won’t have the wisdom to understand that they are thinking from a higher level than she can ever reach at that age.
That’s what the first reading from the Psalms is all about. Reminding us that we are child-like, we moan and complain at God because life is not fair, but God is working on a level that is so beyond us. And sometimes we need to be reminded of that.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes, just sometimes, we do have that understanding, and we misunderstand what it means.Sometimes we fully understand that we don't understand the world and what is happening in our life, sometimes we are very clear that we don't know what to do, that we are very uncertain of the next step forward. We have no confidence in ourselves and our decision making. And at the same time we are very aware that God is so much bigger and smarter and works at a level way beyond our comprehension...and we take that to mean that God is too busy for us. That he has higher priorities, and maybe he’ll eventually get around to us.
We understand that God is greater than us and we feel that he cares the less for that, because in the scheme of the world we don't matter all that much.And here is the message we need to hear...yes God is so much greater than us, but he uses that greatness to care.
No one is forgotten.That is the message of both the passages.Don’t worry if you are a rock-badger and 99% of the congregation haven’t even heard about you. God not only has heard of you, he cares.
Don’t worry if you are some pathetically poor wedding party. God not only knows about you, he cares.
Here’s something I didn’t know. Supposedly it was the guests’ responsibility to bring the wine. If the wine ran out it was a sign of how little the guests cared for the couple or that the couple had too few friends. Either way it was a bad sign for the wedding. How could the marriage survive if they didn't have the support and help of the community? If their own families didn't care enough to supply enough wine, if their friends didn’t care enough to supply enough wine on this important day, then how would they survive when things got really bad? They couldn't trust their friends and family to help them.
Fortunately there is God, who helps from a heart of understanding, but also helps from a heart of generosity. The amount of wine Jesus supplies is phenomenal.
I remember once doing another sermon on this passage and I explained that I had once gone to a barbeque and they had used a bog standard black bin as a fridge. They had filled it with water and put the cans and bottles in that bin to keep them cool. One black bin filled with water to keep the alcohol cool, and the whole of the barbeque didn't finish the alcohol. Jesus didn't supply one black bin of alcohol; he supplied SIX wheelie bins of alcohol. That is a lot of alcohol by anyone's standards.
Now imagine that God is watching over you.A God, who knows so much more, understands so much more what we need.A God that cares so greatly that nothing is off his radar, not even animals that you have even heard of before today. This is a God that wants to help.And this is a God that is not restricted by materials.
Whatever we need, he can supply so much more than is needed.And here’s the weirdest thing of all.We could be sitting here today thinking, ‘Wouldn't it be great to have a God like that. Wouldn't it be great to have a God that cared for me like that, I so wish that God cared for me like that.’And here’s the thing, God has cared for us like that.
God does care for us like that.It is clear from the Psalm that the rock-badger has no clue about a God that is watching over him (or her) but it doesn't stop God caring for it.It is clear from the wedding parable in John that very few people knew what was going on. Apart from a few servants who had poured the water into the jars, the disciples and Jesus; no one knew what had happened. The guests were unaware that something wonderful had happened, the bride and groom were unaware that something wonderful had happened, the families were unaware that something wonderful had happened.God just cared, and God just acted in care.He’s been doing it for you, here’s been doing it for me, since before we were born.
As ignorant as Jessica is to all the wonderful care she has received from her parents, so we are ignorant of all the care we have received from God.Why is this important?I think we would be more content in our life if we trusted that God was truly watching over us.I think we would be more content in our life if we believed that God truly cared for us.I think we would be more content in our life if we felt we could rely on that love and care and weren’t so insecure about it.
Look at Anne who joined us today as an auxiliary minister for six months. I don’t know what Anne is thinking right now. But here’s the truth...a year ago she didn’t expect to be here. In six months time she doesn't know where she will be.That’s pretty insecure.Now she could worry about that.She could decided not to really invest her time here, decide not to be too committed to anything in Alva because, to be blunt, she might not be here that long.
Or, she could decide that this is where God has decided she needs to be for this time.So she can just enjoy her time here, really commit herself, really be alert to the messages God is giving her. Because they are all messages she needs to hear.That’s two very different ways to live life.But that’s the choice all of us have...to believe that we are on our own.Or to believe that at this moment, at this time, we are exactly where God wants us to be because we can be helped by someone else, or we can help someone else.That we are at the very place God wants us to be, because we can be shown God’s love for us, or we can show God’s love for someone else.
So where do we go from here?
I think we start by reflecting. Do any of you remember the Mr Magoo cartoons. Mr Magoo was this nearly blind guy who went through life causing chaos because he couldn't see what he was doing or where he was going. But the world seemed to go round him so that he was never hurt. He was blessed and protected but never knew it.And he never realised how close he came to disaster, he never realised how much he was protected. He just lived his life in ignorance.
But how much more joy he would have had in his heart if he had known?
How much would he have lived his life differently if he had known?
We don't need to be that ignorant. We can reflect on our life. We can look back and see how God supported us in times of stress, how he comforted us in times of grief, how he unexpectedly gave us times in our life when we could laugh with joy.
We don't need to see all that God has done for us, but if we can glimpse even some of what God has done for us then it could assure us that God is always quietly doing stuff for us, and that can give us a greater assurance and peace.