Monday, March 14, 2011

That's exactly how this grace thing works

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.
– John 2:1-12
In this story, Jesus doesn’t act until he absolutely has to. He doesn’t even seem to want to, but his mother convinces him. This is recorded in John’s Gospel as Jesus’ first miracle, a miracle I like to sum up as, “Jesus makes every occasion a party.”

What strikes me most is the steward’s comment, misdirected to the bridegroom: “You have kept the good wine until now.” The wine the bridegroom’s family was responsible for has run out. They gave all they could in the effort to throw a grand party. Only then has Jesus stepped in.

When I’m faced with an overwhelming situation, I want Jesus to act NOW and rescue me from having to work so hard. But I often find that if I just dig in, all the things I worry about will fall into place. Right now I’m faced with renting out my house and moving my family to Virginia so I can go to seminary. I’ve never done anything like this before!

Our first dilemma was what to do with the cat we knew we couldn’t bring. We searched high and low for a new owner. I scoured Facebook, and I talked with veterinarians and people at animal shelters. A lot of folks chipped in to help. When it became clear to me that there was nothing more I could do, I prayed, “God, please provide a graceful end for Epitome.” And a graceful end came immediately.

I am now more confident that other seemingly overwhelming factors will fall into the same category. I need to do everything I can first. Then the good wine will start to flow.

I could have saved this song until Easter, with a title like “Roll Away Your Stone.” But I love this line in particular today:

“It seems that all my bridges have been burned/
But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works.”

From their current hit album Sigh No More, here are Mumford & Sons.

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