Saturday, 19 January 2013

Gifts of abundance!

1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Spiritual Gifts
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
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. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

John 2:1-12
The Wedding at Cana
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 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.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.

It's been a wee while since I've done a "puppy update".
Ruca is 10 months old now - and this picture was taken at Ayr Beach last weekend.
I love the exuberance that is captured in this picture.
The joy of life.
No holding back.
Shaking the water off as she goes.
It struck me as a wonderful visual illustration of our readings today.
Readings that are full to the brim with exuberance.

Exuberance isn't something that we experience so much in the church.
We're too busy following rules, creating order, sometimes ensuring that our faith makes us miserable - isn't that what being Presbyterian is about? :)
And, all the while giving the impression that our resources are in short supply,that we must conserve what we have, that times are hard in the church as they are everywhere else.
Both readings today, however speak to us of abundance.
Jesus changed the water into wine - good wine , much more than was needed.
And the gifts of the Spirit - of which we read in 1 Corinthians, are not rationed but are freely given to be freely used.
I'm not, for a moment attempting to deny that many folk in all walks of life, locally, nationally and globally are experiencing the bite of recession in all sorts of ways.
But I am advocating that, in the church, we are called to buck the trend.
To be counter intuitive.
To go against the grain.
Not by burying our heads in the sand.
But by taking hold of our faith and taking seriously the claims of Jesus who said:
" I have come to bring you life - in abundance. "
That abundant life is what we are called to model for the world around us.
A life lived with faith in the abundant grace of God.

And so to our gospel reading.
The author of Johns gospel has a thing about signs.
Not miracles. - but signs that point to truths much more profound than it appears of the surface.
Signs that are multi layered in meaning.
I'm intrigued that this first "sign" of which John tells us - water into wine, seems such a trivial thing when set against other things that Jesus might usefully have done.
Yes, it was probably a social nightmare for the wedding host to run out of wine, but, in the great scheme of things, was that the best he could come up with?
Water into wine?
So, the actual sign may not be as impressive as it might be.
But what about the message the writer of John's gospel is trying to get across?
The resources of the host have been exhausted - but the party is far from over.
God makes sure of that.
And so it is in our experience.
When we feel we have exhausted our resources, then discover that still more is being asked of us, God fills us with what we need.
And not just the bare necessities.
But an abundance.
Jesus took everyday things that were present in that place where the wedding was being held and put them to use.
Like the gifts of which we read in 1 Corinthians.
Gifts that God replenishes in us - just when we need it most.
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.

We're taking some time here in Castlehill to think about Stewardship.
To think about the gifts we have and to determine how those gifts can be best used for Gods purposes.
Those gifts are not in short supply although, often, that is how we like to portray things - as though there is a scarcity.
In these times of recession, affecting so many areas of life, the good news is that God continues to say Yes.
Gods kingdom continues to expand.
Th generosity of God knows no bounds.
And we, the people of God, are called to follow suit.

A couple,of weeks ago, when we took a word to lead us into the new year, a word with which to live into the new year, my word was ENCOURAGE.
I want to encourage you today,whatever age or stage you are at in your journey of faith to know that your resources are not exhausted beyond Gods replenishment.
To know that God continues today to equip all of us to give and to serve.
And what's more - to enjoy that giving and serving.
I want to encourage you to follow Jesus example of celebrating as he journeyed through life.
Celebrating every act of compassion he witnessed.
Celebrating every act of faith he encountered.
Celebrating love wherever he found it.
Encouraging us, today, to celebrate as we use the gifts we have been given in abundance.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I love the connections with your dog (exuberance!) and with the life of the congregation.

So inspiring and ENCOURAGE-ing!

Thank you, Liz.