January 30, 2017“It’s the little things that matter,” Pastor Lee Ostten (pronounced like Osteen) tells us Sunday morning. He opens his Bible and reads John 2:1-10, the story of Jesus’ first miracle, turning the water into wine. He pulls a new thought from the passage for me.
“Do you know what an embarrassment it would have been for this young couple, just starting out, to have run out of wine at their wedding feast?” I’d never thought of the story in that light before, but he’s right.
Scenes from our own daughter’s wedding flash through my memory. We’d set the time for the ceremony after the “dinner hour” and we’d planned light refreshments only; finger sandwiches, pinwheel wraps, relishes – appetizer kinds of foods, plus cake and ice cream. Not far into the reception, I left the picture taking session to check on food and greet guests. Spotting our dwindling supply of food trays, I panicked. Surprise! Our guests were a lot hungrier than we’d planned for!
Like me, this bride’s mother must have been flying around that wedding supper room in a panic. “No wine? Are you kidding me? What happened to it all?” I can hear her saying, waving her arms. As a mom, I can almost see the same embarrassed anxiety on her face that lit up mine that day. Fortunately, I could send someone on a very fast food run. She could not.
Mary certainly sees their distress. She turns to her Son, knowing He can help. “They’ve run out of wine,” she tells him. Jesus looks at her, but He’s not ready to do miracles just yet.
“Why are you asking me to get involved?” he asks. “My time has not yet come.”
We’re not told how she knows, but Mary has confidence her Son can fix this. She snags the nearest servant as he hurries by. “Do whatever He tells you,” she says.
I can just about see Jesus give her a long, steady look. Perhaps He finally appreciates His mother’s compassion for the family and decides to help. What a social faux pas! This is no way to begin a newly married couple’s life. He knows the important symbolism of wine in a Jewish wedding. And Jesus, too, has compassion.
He spots six large stone jars sitting nearby and looks at the servants. “Fill those jars with water,” he instructs.
Can’t you just see the hired help look at him like He’s nuts? This is just water! Doesn’t he know the difference? Finally, they fill the jars to the brim.
Then He says something so wacky, I’m surprised they even do it.
“Now draw some out and take it to the Master of the Banquet.” When they do as He asks, the host goes directly to the bridegroom and compliments him.
Jesus not only creates wine from water, He, unexpectedly, gives them the very best wine. He cares about the reputation of a young couple and their families. He cares about the ordinary.
“I’m here to tell you Jesus cares about the ordinary…This month He did that for us, on the last Sunday of the month, He provided our need so that we could meet our obligations…He provided the wine,” Pastor Ostten says.
He moves down out of the pulpit, Bible in hand and, as most conversations around here eventually go, he reminisces about the August flood. He asks Al and Marie how they felt when everything they owned was gone, destroyed in the flood. Marie tells us they had nothing! Did God care about them? She answers with a resounding, “Yes!”
Pastor reminds us, “To get to their house, you need a GPS! We couldn’t get to you. But, even before your little church here could get to y’all, God showed up and brought another church to help you….”
He pulls other parishioners into the discussion, naming acts of kindness from raking yards to picking up debris, pulling out damaged sheet rock and more. One gentleman is moved to tears when he tells how a cousin came with a boat to rescue his parents. We hear the emotion in his voice, “We didn’t even call and ask him, he just called and said he was coming!” Memories remain fresh, tears still fall.
The pastor reminds us of the story of God sending Moses to the pharaoh of Egypt. “God says to Moses, tell the pharaoh that “I Am” sent you. Now that name, “I Am,” has this connotation…I Am Hope…I Am Joy…I Am Peace…I Am people to help you tear out the sheet rock…I need cabinets, and someone…[I Am] comes and builds cabinets.”
In another service, Pastor Ostten points to two gentlemen.
“Thank you for taking two of our young men with you on Saturday and cleaning up the yard for…,”he names an older lady who attends. It’s an important quality to pass to the next generation – caring about the “little things,” helping each other.
At the end, Pastor Ostten reminds the congregation. “…There are those who are even a part of this family that still have needs to be met…And what we need to do is keep praying one for another…keep listening to each other. Step in when God tells you to call somebody [and help]….”
The message is clear. Jesus cared about the little things as well as the big things. As His hands and feet, so should we.