Lutheran Worship and Resources

Monday, January 31, 2022

WELS Friendship Sunday a Success! Nobody Quit, But Nobody Joined Either

 Pastor GA Bierstein did his best to warm up visitors by asking, "Were you born WELS? I mean - born in Wisconsin."

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, 2022.


The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, 2022

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



Bethany Lutheran Church, 

10 AM Central Time
The Vimeo player will appear below





The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Introit
Worship Him, all ye His angels: 
Zion heard and was glad.
The daughters of Judah rejoiced: 
because of Thy judgments, O Lord.
Psalm. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice: 
let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.

The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth, etc.

The Epistle 

The Gradual
The heathen shall fear the name of the Lord: 
and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.
V. When the Lord shall build up Zion: He shall appear in His glory. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
V. The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice: 
let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Hallelujah!
      
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22

  

Lord Save Us! We Perish
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #46    On What Has Now Been Sown       


     

Prayers and Announcements
  • For those suffering from the difficulties of the lockdowns, job threats, anxiety, and depression.
  • Guy Johnson, retired police officer, Pastor Jackson's friend since grade school, hospitalized, ICU. 
  • Doctor's care - Pastor Shrader, Chris Shrader, Pastor K, Dr. Lito Cruz.
  • Our elected President and his supporters, our military justice system.

KJV Romans 13:8-10
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

KJV Matthew 8:23-27
23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Lord Save Us! We Perish

KJV Matthew 8:23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

Introduction - The Miraculous
Many times I have spoken about the scorn of the 19th century scholar, with an emphasis on their use of corrupt, heretical texts - Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus  (Aleph). The Hort of Westcott-Hort wrote that he favored a "Mary religion" over a "Jesus religion." 

I wondered about Westcott, because he was a bishop in the Anglican Church and always supported Hort. The latest KJV book deals extensively with Bishop Westcott and his fascination with Hinduism. This is very important, showing how the gathering of text material from bad sources came about. In short, Bishop Westcott was very fond of turning Christianity into a form of Hinduism. Just one example of distortion is the way he made the Incarnation, God becoming man, the Two Natures in Christ, "all people becoming divine" - denying the Incarnation and the miraculous.

He and Hort mocked the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. (Their Greek Gospel of Mark erased "the Son of God" from Mark 1:1 and the Empty Tomb from Mark 16:9-20. 

The 19th century was a time when the British elite re-made Christianity into a form of the occult and said so. So they could use Biblical words to some extent but stressed how symbolic everything was - not historic and true - but mythical and "timeless" to stretch a term.

That generation of scholars was rejected by the Christian Church, but the fervent continued, just as yeast (good or bad) slowly permeates a batch of dough. Their crimes of the 1880s became the bedrock of the 1930s and beyond.

Matthew 8:23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

There were a group of ships going across the inland sea, so the Twelve were there and so were others who had listened to Him and followed Him. Given the nature of sudden storms, the boats were quite vulnerable in a major storm, even though they were relatively stable and made to last on the storm-tossed waters. Travelers debate whether they would like to cruise the rivers of America and Europe or cross the ocean in a floating luxury hotel. Anatomy of Melancholy - "A ship is like a prison, only you can drown."

Jesus was asleep and not worried. This miracle makes us dwell on His divine nature. He was not pretending to be asleep but sleeping because of all His work. The Gerhardt hymns remind us of His divine nature, even when He was a baby, how He took on our frail flesh so He could teach us and die and for our sins.

24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest [earthquake] in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 

Matthew used the term earthquake to describe this sudden, violent storm. The is when the dark seas meet the black sky and nothing makes sense, but Jesus remained sleeping. The parallel to our era is clear. Almost everyone is pointing out the storm that is rising and all the indications of a vast change - for good or ill - in the world and in America.

Mark's addition is exactly how we would respond, "Master, don't you care if we die?"

This is where Luther carefully described the difference between faith and fear. Everything is fine with us when there are no threats. We take pride in our knowledge and our ability to look ahead. But when things are out of control, then faith vanishes and fear takes over. This was not unusual, to have a storm on the sea, but the violence of it shook the disciples so badly that they questioned His power and mercy.

Every since the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, Jesus has been protective of His followers and sympathetic to their fears and sorrows.

His sleep - though real - is also symbolic of His peace of mind, because everything has been predicted and He remains our Good Shepherd, our captain of the ship. The boat was swamped with waves and yet He remained asleep. When Jesus seems to be asleep and indifferent, He is only showing us that everything remains under the divine guidance of the Holy Trinity.




25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

How annoying! to have Jesus asleep while the boat is swamped with crashing, cold waves - and drowning seems not far off.

There are two parts to their prayer. One is "save us," which gives credit to His divine nature, but the other is "we perish" - indicating their lack of faith and their need to get Him moving.

When people make specific demands about the manner, time, and place of God's intervention, they are ordering Him around and will not see results. Many are so blind today that they keep bossing God as their wayward servant and quickly fall into rejection of God's power and help. Still others, mockingly tell their audience at graduation to close their eyes and meditate on any god they happen to believe in - or not.

26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

The problem is not that they were fearful, but they were so afraid that they lost faith, in their panic, and were angry with Him. It is not a sin to be afraid - fear keeps us from doing foolish things and from reckless stunts, such as children try from time to time. But when they trusted in their human reason - as skilled and rugged fishermen, they no longer trusted in the Lord.

Jesus' strongest rebuke is "ye of little faith," and it is found often in the Gospels. Even if they had died, they would have been with Him, but panic blocked all expressions of faith.

This is one of many passages where the Gospels show us the power, grace, and compassion of Jesus Christ. The miracles prove to us that God can do anything in His own time. If we 
pray for those with sickness, special conditions, or accident injuries, we are praying that God accomplish His will in His own time, with His own methods.

When we pray for our country and our leaders, we are asking for God to intervene in His way. It is in His hands, but trusting His power is extremely important at this time of crisis.

I like to go back in time mentally and say, "Did you know the shortest man in gym class would earn the Medal of Honor?" or
"Did you think, while copying 3,000 pages of Luther's Sermons that they would be erased overnight?" (That would have been dis-couraging. Why bother? But those pages became 8 volumes and they are all over the place and in Kindle and PDFs)

Did you imagine you would be almost alone in following Luther's Biblical doctrine?

27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Here is a great attack against lack of faith in any part of our lives. If the waves and winds obey Jesus Christ, what must He be able to do in our lives? There should be no doubt, with His power over Creation since He is the Creator. He can change ordinary water into extraordinary wine, just as the Word changes the host and wine, which remain bread and wine, into His presence of body and blood.

We have probably witnessed miracles of one form or another, such as a tiny baby surviving and thriving, or a terrible accident where no one was hurt. Some things are more subtle and certainly appear divinely given in retrospect. 

The rationalists and occultists imagine they can whittle away the truth of God's inerrant, powerful Word. And when they are done, they no longer believe in their own sad creations.



Saturday, January 29, 2022

Ichabod the Glory Has Departed -
Removed by Blogger for No Apparent Reason.
This Will Be the Blog and Broadcasting Link
Until a New Platform Is Arranged

 
Tacoma Hymns - Luther's Sermons were erased

I woke up to find no Ichabod. Someone said it happened already by 2AM, maybe earlier. I clicked the link and it said, "Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

We received your unlock request on January 28, 2022. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam."

Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs."


That message only appeared once.

Needless to say, I am done with Blogger. Tomorrow, January 30th, the broadcast will be via this blog. You will see the player at the top, like last Sunday.

By next Sunday I expect to have the new arrangement (not Vimeo, but RESI) set up on the new platform. I like having the latest post on the front page, so feel free to make suggestions.



Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, 2022

 


The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, 2022

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



Bethany Lutheran Church, 
10 AM Central Time
The Vimeo player will appear below




The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Introit
Worship Him, all ye His angels: 
Zion heard and was glad.
The daughters of Judah rejoiced: 
because of Thy judgments, O Lord.
Psalm. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice: 
let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.

The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth, etc.

The Epistle 

The Gradual
The heathen shall fear the name of the Lord: 
and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.
V. When the Lord shall build up Zion: 
He shall appear in His glory. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
V. The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice: 
let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Hallelujah!

      
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22

  

The Word Creates and Builds Faith
The Hymn # 264        Preserve Thy Word 
 
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #45     Now the Hour of Worship      


     

Prayers and Announcements
  • The roses are for  - January 27th - the anniversary of Gary and Alicia Meyer.
  • For those suffering from the difficulties of the lockdowns, job threats, anxiety, and depression.
  • Guy Johnson, retired police officer, Pastor Jackson's friend since grade school, hospitalized, ICU. 
  • Doctor's care - Pastor Shrader, Pastor K, Dr. Lito Cruz.
  • Our elected President and his supporters, our military justice system.

  Graphic by Norma A. Boeckler
            

KJV Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

KJV Matthew 8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.  10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.



Third Sunday After Epiphany

O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all dangers and necessities stretch forth Thy mighty hand, to defend us against our enemies; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

This mint is called Bee Balm for some reason.


The Word Creates and Builds Faith

KJV Matthew 8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Here is an example of the Word creating faith. This leper was present to hear the Sermon on the Mount, and the words of Jesus filled this tortured man with faith in Jesus as divine. The leper's faith is revealed in his struggle to reach Jesus and to worship Him as God. As an outcast having nothing but rejection and avoidance, the leper understood more than modern Biblical critics, who deny this is a an actual sermon. But this disabled and tormented man believed in the Savior and said in humility - "If you will, you can cleanse me from this disease."

This is far from the modern fad of "name it and claim it," where people are instructed that they can have anything they want if they just tell God what they want and when they want it, like ordering from a menu. This shows lack of faith, not faith in Him. It sets people up for disappointment and unbelief. 

It is far better to trust God's will than our own, because God can see the future far in advance and knows what lies ahead. 

3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

People fuss about the ways in which Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. Details matter. Jesus touched someone who was untouchable and utterly shunned and avoided, for fear of the disease. What better lesson than to stop for this leper, with crowds surging around as they left, after the Sermon, Jesus touching the very man who repulsed them 

We can imagine a wide expanse around Jesus and the leper as they pressed to move as far as possible away from the untouchable. Even more people witnessed this because of the stage they set for fear of leprosy. A similar effect works today, if a child covers his mouth and a parent says "Let us through - he is sick to his stomach." Crowds will part and space will open up instantly.

The miraculous cure was immediately visible. The worst kind of disfigurement or weakness or disability changed into health. Jesus cured the leper with assurance - I will - and with the Word - Be clean.

Is this different from the Confession of Sin and Absolution? Not at all. In humility we confess our sins and Christ Himself - delegating to the worship leader - speaks the Gospel Word of forgiveness. 

4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

People miss the connection between the healing and going to the Temple. The temptation for the healed man is to stop along the way, go to friends, talk about the healing, and so forth. Who could resist? The leper was commanded to head to the Temple as a witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ and give the leaders an opportunity to believe in Him. Many different clear Gospel messages and warning were aimed at official Judaism, to give them the chance to know the Promises of the Old Testament were being fulfilled in their time.

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

I know how this feels. A best friend, from all the way back to grade school, is in the ICU on a ventilator. The centurion is a Roman officer, there because the country is now a part of the Roman Empire. He addressed Jesus as Lord, even though he has great power as a Roman officer in control of professional soldiers .

7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 

Jesus, knowing the mind of the centurion, offered to come to the man's villa and heal the servant. Thus the Promise is already given, and sincere faith is the response given.

8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 

Once again, the humble attitude is expressed first. He is not worthy to have Jesus inside of his house, which is just the opposite of using his house as a symbol of power and wealth. Jesus does not need to be nearby, because the officer knows the meaning of command. The word of the centurion is law. No matter what he orders, it will be done by the men under his command. That is still true today. Unlike any other organization, the military operates by command, from the top down. Knowing Jesus is divine, the officer trusts the power of the divine command, the Word which so many neglect or despise today.

10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Like the Canaanite woman, this officer serves as a contrast, total trust in Jesus when Pharisaical Judaism rejected Him. The most likely ones to honor the Gospel Promises were resistant, but the outsiders were sincere believers.

That is true today, where the official, ruling Lutheran officials are the most likely to gather at Fuller Seminary, Purpose-Driven Drive, Willow Creek, and Andy Stanley's Babtist Church- and yet they are the least likely to know or like or read Luther.

The Biblical and text scholars of today, if gathered in a great conference, would be mostly Unitarian at best, and very likely to favor Hinduism over Christianity.

11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This passage is the truth of that era and ours. Those expected to follow the Scriptures are the most allergic to them, now that Christianity is established everywhere. Those who suffer real persecution value the Gospel the most.

13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

We cannot measure God's actions by the latest reports, news, predictions, experiences. We can carry out the divine plan, honoring what He has created in us (our special offices, duties) and for us - the basics of Scripture, worship, prayer, and healthy living.

Society truths have to be measured against Scriptural truths. Many times the official claims of the moment are little more than crowd control, the management rather than the truth of the news. We have that truth before us in the traditional Scriptures, translation (singular), text (singular), hymns, worship, and supplemental books. 


Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 2022. Water into Wine




The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 2022

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


 



Hymn #586    Gerhardt - A Pilgrim and a Stranger                  
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
Introit
All the earth shall worship Thee: and shall sing unto Thee, O God.
They shall sing to Thy name: O Thou Most High.
Psalm. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: 
sing forth the honor of His name, make His praise glorious.

The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth, mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people and grant us Thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth, etc.

The Epistle and Gradual   
Gradual
The Lord sent His Word and healed them: 
and delivered them from their destructions.
V. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness: 
and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
V. Praise ye Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts. Hallelujah!
    
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
Hymn #39          Praise to the Lord the Almighty       
Water into Wine - The Ordinary into the Extraordinary

Hymn #456     Approach My Soul the Mercy Seat             
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
Hymn #54         Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah             

In Our Prayers

Prayers and Announcements
  • Doctor's care - Pastor Shrader, Pastor K, Dr. Lito Cruz, Randy Anderson. Alicia Meyer - flu symptoms.
  • Pastor Jackson, right eye surgery, Monday.
 
A Pilgrim and a Stranger is from Paul Gerhardt, next to Luther, the greatest hymn-writer of all time. Gerhardt was a children's tutor and became a beloved pastor in Berlin. However, he was forced out of the parish because he would not concede anything to the Calvinists. He finally got a small parish. He lost his wife and all his children but one. He wrote Sacred Head Now Wounded and many other great hymns.



KJV Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins [GJ -10 gallons per firkin] apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Norma A. Boeckler


SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thy grace Thou hast instituted holy matrimony, in which Thou keepest us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech Thee to send Thy blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Thy gracious help in all temptations, and rear their children in accordance with Thy will; grant unto us all to walk before Thee, in purity and holiness, to put all our trust in Thee, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen. 



Water into Wine - The Ordinary into the Extraordinary

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

Introductory:

The conclusion of this miracle notes that this was the first miracle performed by Jesus - and His disciples believed. The miracle is especially important for two or more reasons. One is that it involved all the disciples, so they could verify to each other that this actually happened - the details proving it a miracle and not a fraudulent display . Secondly, Mary and the disciples being there with Jesus meant He honored marriage - and early Christianity did so as well. Only later did paganism influence pastors to believe they should live without being married and be monks, as if that were a higher calling. That was already true when Western Rome fell and Augustine was the famous bishop and theologian. This one miracle anticipates the anti-marriage law that took over and also the elevating of Mary beyond reality and the truth.

People are inclined to reduce individual episodes like this into one or two sentences. The Gospel of John is especially generous with details of great importance in Christianity. Because the Holy Spirit is so stingy with words, we need to consider each verse, sometimes each phrase, to understand the complete message. This miracle proves the Lordship of Jesus over all earthly matters - and the disciples believed - but it also supports marriage as God's will, the actual place of Mary as the mother of Jesus, and an example of God transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.

there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

God created marriage through His Word - the Logos, and Jesus honored marriage by His presence with His mother and the disciples there. This one miracle explains quite a few important ideas. Official Roman Catholic teaching has Mary commanding Jesus to do her will, and also serving - priest-like, offering Jesus as the sacrifice of the eucharist. This corruption of the relationship between Jesus and Mary began after one conference (Theotokos - Ephesus, 431 A.D.) And as we can see, the corruption blossomed ever since. As Luther commented, one error can lead to an entire nation falling prey to false doctrine. Similarly, Calvinism separated the Spirit from the Word, which provided a steep path into rationalism and the Unitarian denial of the Trinity.

Luther suggested that Mary was substituting for the couple's parents, since she stepped into the wine shortage problem. The lack of wine suggested that this was a wedding feast limited by a lack of money, since wine was a staple and not just a sip for a toast to the bride and groom. The disciples were all there, so that increased the demand, but they bore witness to this miracle. Some are going to say, "Then why did they have doubts and fears, and worry about their future glory?" They are mirrors of our failings, since we know about all the miracles and the greatest one of all - defeating death and granting eternal life to Christian believers. 

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

There are two parts to this wine solution, on the part of Mary. One is that she took the problem to Jesus, believing He would solve the problem. The second is that she remained undaunted when He appeared to dismiss her request. That is an important parallel to the Canaanite woman, who kept asking Jesus and kept getting apparent rebukes from Him, thus showing her utter trust in Jesus. Mary is another example. She first asked then assured the stewards that Jesus would take care of matters.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Jesus addressed His mother as "Woman," without any modifiers. He did the same at the cross, addressing her as "woman" but referring her to the beloved disciple John as a "mother to him." Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother. Like many passages in the Fourth Gospel, this one anticipates and shreds the elevation of Mary while honoring her faith in Jesus. The point of the miracle is Jesus' power through the Word, not Mary being in charge over Him.

People are inclined to think, "Why should I pray about something so trivial. I am nobody in the Kingdom of God, and this is too minor to take to God." But so was the lack of wine, and Jesus took care of the problem without being told how to do it. It is a sad spectacle that pastors and lay leaders tell God what to do - and give Him a deadline for getting it done. I saw the prayer on the Episcopalian bulletin board - "We are praying to God for a 10% increase in membership and offerings each year,  for the next three years." (The pastor just got back from Fuller, where he was taught this nonsense.)

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins [GJ -10 gallons per firkin] apiece. 

Firkins are named in "The Music Man," which was produced in our lifetimes. 

So they had 120 gallons - or more - of storage possible. 

7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 

These details matter because there have always been con artists with their pre-set tricks. Many basic magic tricks are now taught on video, where the magic comes from special tools or misdirection of the eye. In this case, the pots were empty, but filled to the brim with water from the well, as Jesus directed. He and his disciples did not touch anything. He then ordered the stewards to take some of the liquid to the toastmaster.

9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

The toastmaster did not know the origin of the water turned into wine, he called for the bridegroom, to teach him some wedding etiquettes. This is subtle humor, which is often found in the Fourth Gospel. The toastmaster is angry with the broom, and neither one knows what has happened.

10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good [noble, the best] wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good [the best] wine until now. 

In the language of two men utterly baffled, the miracle is told in words that describe what has happened. They ran out of wine for the wedding, but instead of bringing in cheaper wine, they provided the best wine. This is the term used by Jesus in John 10 - I AM the Good Shepherd (the ultimate or best or noble; Greek is subtle, the word for good suggests being useful; this means the Shepherd above all shepherds).

Nothing is more ordinary than water, so this transformation from water to the best wine is very much worth thinking about. The Fourth Gospel involves a lot of symbolism, as the Bible does in general. Physical signs are good for reminding us of the spiritual message they teach.

What is more ordinary than marriage. People despise marriage and run away from it. And no matter what the couple's love might be, there will always be the ordinary - friction about money, raising the children, and goals in life. No matter how difficult things can be, God has blessed marriage among believers many times over. Those who believe in Christ also know about sin, contrition, and forgiveness. Partners (whether business or marital) cannot continue when there is a lack of forgiveness. And forgiveness is a great blessing from God, where all past problems are set aside and drowned in the sea of God's grace. Luther wondered about how long Adam and Eve argued about the forbidden fruit - whose fault was it?

God does more than transform marriage. He transforms the worst difficulties into the greatest gains, individualized for each person. How many people have said, "That disaster led me into the greatest part of my life." The biggest mistake we make is thinking that we have been plagued with a bad deal. Cannot God turn that ordinary into something extraordinary? This first of all the miracles Jesus performed - tells us yes.