Celebrating the Gifts of the Spirit

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

When I first came to the High School as a teacher, I had been teaching for four years. Two as a Sub in the Longmont St. Vrain district and two at the Detention Center in Brush. I was just a little over half-way in completing my Master’s degree. I have never been one to underestimate myself. I’m pretty self-confident. I also seem to have the proclivity to want to share when its not always productive.

One day we were in a faculty meeting and I decided that I need to share, and to be honest with you I don’t even remember what it was about. But after the meeting, one of my former teachers, now a colleague came up to me and shared something that I have tried to remember ever since. He said, “You know you don’t have to share about everything that comes up. You are still just little Mikey Gross.” He turned and walked away. At first I was pretty upset, was it because I was a former student and he and others thought I was not up to their abilities—which was true for the most part, because I was still pretty green. But what he was trying to tell me was that we all have the ability to teach—stop showing off and acting like you are better than others.

It was a serious lesson in humility. I realized that he was right. I didn’t need to talk or show off all the time. I needed to let my actions speak for themselves. I need to sit back, listen and learn. There were a lot of people with a lot of experience that I could learn from and grow more. So many times in life we get caught up in who and what we are that we forget to stop, look and listen before we cross the road.

The passage in John of the wedding at Cana is a great example of humility and abundance. Jesus had called the disciples and they were at a wedding, possibly a friend of the families because his mother was also there. There was a major faux pas that had occurred, they ran out of wine. Now when we were at a party in our younger days when the keg went dry, we went home. But in Jesus day it was accepted that when a wedding occurred it was a major party and people were going to be spending several days at the party.

They couldn’t run to the local vineyard, couldn’t call and order delivery or get on-line and join a wine club real quick with 24 hour shipping—it was going to be bad news. The wedding party was going to be a bust and the hosts were going to look bad. The head servant would probably be demoted but not fired because he was probably a slave. He might get beaten, sold or even be killed. He was in a very tough spot. Yet Mary, the mother of Jesus seems to come to the rescue.

Mary goes to Jesus and tells him that they have no wine. Jesus tries to play it off and replies, “What concern is that to you and me? My time has not yet come.” Now here is the young upstart Jesus who is trying to prove that he is wiser than his mother. She knows full well what might happen when word gets out that they have run out of wine. Yet, Jesus thinks he should not have to deal with it. He tries to be indifferent and say his time has not yet come. Mary totally blows him off and tells the servants to do as Jesus tells them to do.

Can you see Jesus almost drop his head like c’mon Mom do I really have to do this? Then he relents and tells the servants to fill the jars with water and they do. Then he tells them to draw some out and to take it to the head steward. “Jesus did this the first of his signs.” He not only replenished the wine but it was the good stuff. It was in abundance six stone jars full. Whenever God does something it is always the good stuff and it is in abundance. No box wine, or Mogen David—the best they have had.

The abundance of God’s gifts continues in the reading from 1 Corinthians. The early churches struggled with many aspects of being the church. Paul’s letters are such a treasure trove of examples of how it is easy to get astray of what it means to be the church. The people of Corinth have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. They are beginning to realize those gifts and a hierarchy of special gifts begin to develop. It seems that the people start putting those who can speak in tongues or interpret those speakers above the rest of the congregation.

Paul wrote 12:4-7 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Everyone is given gifts, no one is left out. Just as the wine was replenished in abundance the gifts of the Spirit are given in order to maintain a balance in the church. Just because one speaks in tongues and another teaches does not make one greater than the other. Just because one has wisdom and another interprets the speaking, they are all important in God’s eyes.

When we can humble ourselves and realize the importance of everyone in our church family then we see God’s glory revealed. We see that everyone has a special purpose to help maintain the balance of God’s love. When Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding, he could have just made enough for the special guests. Jesus could have made it an inferior wine or even just a couple jugs worth and told them to water it down. Instead he made the best there was because that is what God does. God makes sure that the church is able to realize its full potential by the gifts that are shared in the church.

We need each other and our varieties of gifts. We need the red and blue voters. We need the balance of go getters and contemplative prayers. We need the skills of finance and song. Our diversity and subtle differences are so important to remind us that God loves, and so should we. I need to remind myself often to listen first and then be slow to speak.

When we welcome Addyson in just a few minutes into the church through her baptism we ask the Holy Spirit to come upon her. I wonder what gifts the Holy Spirit will give her? I wonder if we are using our gifts to their fullest potential. The first sign at the wedding was another example of who Jesus was going to be, another Epiphany. May we continue to seek our star and see what God reveals to us. We know that at some point it will become abundantly clear. Amen.

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