Have Some Faith!

January 14, 2007

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

John 2:1-11

1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9When 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 10and 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.” 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! I have just three words I’d like to share with you, my friends, three words I’d like you to take home with you. Our topic and our title for today is this: have some faith! Have some faith. Faith is what we’re all about. Faith is the inner vision of that which we cannot yet see with the outer vision. Faith is gratitude for that which has not yet become manifest. Faith is the foundation of our church.

 

I have a scripture passage that I absolutely love. One of the things I love about it is that it’s easy to remember. I’m not very good at remembering scripture numbers, but this is Hebrews 11:1. Hebrews 111, that one I can remember. In this scripture, Paul tells us what faith is all about. In the New King James version, we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, for by it, the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so the things that were seen were not made of things which are physical.”

 

May I read that to you in one of my other favorite translations? The New Living Translation, first edition: “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. God gave His approval to people in days of old because of their faith. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” Faith, the assurance that what we believe in comes to pass.

 

Do you have faith? Do you need some more? Maybe you do, because a life that isn’t filled with faith is filled with doubt. And which do we want? What’s it going to be for you?

 

We demonstrate faith all the time. Did you ever ride a cab in New York City? Think about it. You get into the cab, you’ve never met the driver before in your life, and he’s going to take off – zoom! – along the streets of New York City with you in the car! Is that faith or what? You have complete and total faith in this person that you know not at all. Yet we do it all the time.

 

Have faith in God. Have faith in the scripture that says, “’I know the plans that I have for you,’ saith the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not do you evil, plans to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11) That’s faith. Do you need to turn in that direction today? Do you need to have an infusion of faith? Oh, just choose it. Choose it, my friend. Have some faith. Have some faith where there was doubt in your life. It’s the bedrock of everything we’re about as Christians. We turn toward the light before we can see the light, because we know the light comes from within. Have some faith in God. Have some faith that God has a great plan for you. Life may be rough, and you may have had some setbacks, but have faith. God is going to lead you through.

 

Now, we have a wonderful story in this morning’s gospel that is an illustration of faith. In the driver’s seat this morning is Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is teaching us great lessons about faith today. In the gospel story this morning, Jesus is at a wedding feast, and so is his mother, Mary. Chances are it’s a relative that’s getting married, and chances are also that Mary has something to do with the serving and the preparation of the food. We can be pretty well-assured that Jesus is having a great time at this party. He is a fellow that loves to laugh and talk and be with people, probably to dance and sing, and have a great time.

 

So, He’s brought His friends along with Him to this wedding party, and they’re having a great time. And in the midst of this, Mary goes over to her son and says, “My boy, they have no wine.” The scripture says that Jesus replied unto her, saying, “Woman, what is that to you or me? My time has not yet come.”

 

I’m not sure it went quite like that. I have a feeling it was more like, “Oh, Mom! Why? Why are you doing this? Why are you getting involved? The fact that they ran out of wine is not your responsibility; it’s not my responsibility. Why are you doing this?” Don’t you love that? Jesus was like us in every way. It’s one more text that shows that He shared our spirit and maybe the reaction that you or I would have had. “Oh, Mom! Why?”

 

But Mary said, “My dear boy, they’re in trouble. They have no wine.” You see, to not have wine at a wedding feast was big trouble. It was not, “Jesus, they have run out of lemonade,” or hors d’oeuvres or finger sandwiches. It wasn’t like that. Wine was a big deal. Wine was the symbol of generosity and hospitality, and if you ran out of wine, that was big trouble. It was an insult, and it would probably be remembered for the wedding couple’s entire lives. “Jesus,” Mary said, “they have no wine.”

 

So after He said what He said, Mary said, “Servants, come here. Gather round.” She put Him on the spot. She said to them, “Do whatever He tells you to do.”

 

Jesus stood up, took a deep breath, and said to the servants, “You see those water jugs over there? I want you to take them and fill them with water.” The servant said, “Water?” And Jesus said, “Yes, water.”

 

So the servants took the clay pots and filled them with water, right to the brim. And then Jesus went over to those clay pots, and He concentrated over them, and a miracle happened. Jesus took a cup and dipped it into one of the clay pots and gave it to one of the servants, and said, “Take this to the maitre d', the chief steward, and ask him what he thinks.”

 

So the servant obediently took the cup and went over to the maitre d’ who was probably pulling his hair out at this point, wondering what to do, and he tasted it. And he said, “Wow! This is wonderful! Where did you get this?”

 

And the servant said, “From that guy over there.”

 

He said, “This is marvelous!” He went to the bridegroom and said, “I don’t know how you did it. This is great. But to tell you the truth, you know, I thought you ran out of the good wine long ago. Nobody ever serves the good stuff last. You serve the bad stuff once people can’t tell the difference. But you have saved the prime quality till now.” And this was the first of His miracles, the first of the signs and wonders, that He performed at Cana of Galilee.

 

Friend, there are a couple of things to learn about faith from this scripture. Go through it with me, won’t you? The first thing is, if something has got you down, if you’re worried about something, if something has you depressed and troubled, take it to Jesus. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Isn’t that what Mary did? She did the right thing. She showed us the way. She took it to Jesus.

 

And that’s what you and I should do, too. Just leave it in His hands. Your prayer doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. Just be still and say, “Lord, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to handle this. I don’t know how to solve this. But You do. Jesus, take the wheel. Jesus, You be in charge, please. I’m going to leave this in Your hands, and I’m going to expect a resolution here.” Take it to the Lord in prayer. That’s the first step. And you know what? You’ll feel better right away, because you know you’re not trying to do it on your own. You’re letting the Lord help you. Prayer is the first step.

 

The second step is prepare. Notice that Jesus didn’t just turn all the glasses of water that were around into wine. No. He said, “You’ve got to work with me here. Get these jars, fill them with water, put them over here.” They were preparing for a miracle. Maybe you and I have to do that, too. Maybe there’s a blessing we need in our lives. We need to prepare for it. Listen to your heart. Listen to what the Lord is leading you to do. Maybe there’s a medical situation you need help with, and the Lord is pushing you in one direction or another. Listen for that inner voice, that inner leading. Maybe there is a financial decision you need to make or a friendship decision you need to make. Listen to your inner heart, and see the good direction that God is promoting you to go. God is saying, “Work with me here.” There are things we need to do. We need to move our feet or send the letter or make the call. We need to take the first step, so that the way can be prepared for the miracle.

 

My father used to have a wonderful vegetable garden near the house, and he rigged up a system with the downspout from the roof directed into a big, white porcelain tub, so that the tub would fill with rain water. So when there was a dry spell, he could take use that water for his plants. But if he hadn’t had the tub, he wouldn’t have had the water that he needed to collect. We have to prepare for the miracle, so that God can do His wonderful, wonderful work.

 

Prayer, prepare, and care. Remember that God cares, won’t you? God cares, about the little stuff and about the big stuff. The Savior that prepared the miracle of the wine at the wedding feast also healed the blind man and raised the daughter of the centurion. He performed huge miracles. Doesn’t the water-into-wine seem small by comparison? But He cares! He cares about your dignity as well as your health. He cares about the little stuff in your life and the big stuff in your life. God cares. It’s never too small to take to the Lord in prayer.

 

The Lord cares… how much? He cares enough to send the very best. Did you notice that last part of the gospel? The maitre d’ didn’t just say, “Oh, it’s wine.” He said, “Wow! It’s great! This is extraordinary!” God wants to bless you in not just an okay way, not just a good-enough way. God wants to bless you in an extraordinary way. To tell you the truth, this is the part of the gospel that I have the hardest time with. This is the part of the gospel that my faith needs to stretch into the most. I am satisfied with the minimal blessing or the minimal positive change. I need to stretch my faith to understand that God wants to bless us in a big way. He wants to bless you abundantly, not just with the okay wine, but with the marvelous gift, the marvelous wine.

 

Look for it; expect it. Have some faith this week. Where there is doubt, let there be faith.

 

Let me close with this story:

 

When I was a seminary student back in the seventies, I was going through a very difficult personal time. There was something that seemed devastatingly disappointing to me at that time. I remember sitting at my desk one wintry February studying my seminary texts and just totally absorbed with this disappointment. In the midst of that disappointment, it was as though I heard a clear voice saying, “If you are truly a man of faith, as you say you are, then you will know that I will not leave you in the midst of this crisis.” I remember the exact words to this day. I sat bolt upright and took in a quick breath and said, “Thank you, God.” From that moment on, the disappointment didn’t seem so bad, and the way seemed brighter. Life indeed got lots better.

 

May it be so for you. Friend, have some faith. Your life will be lighter and brighter, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.

 

© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski