1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and John 2:1-11
I’m sure most gardeners would have experienced the situation of buying two identical plants from the same shop, planting them close together in the same plot, nurturing both the same yet one flourishes and for some reason the other struggles.
There would seem neither rhyme nor reason.
Two brothers born of the same parents, one taken young, the other not. Two sisters brought up in Christ, one accepts him joyously and for the other to be united with Christ will only come after a life time of emotional turmoil.
As we come together today as our neighbours in Coonabarabran deal with their losses from fearsome fires and ourselves still in unbelief at the sudden passing of our dear Belinda, taken from us too soon, why?
We hear of people born of great physical difficulties who do wondrous things. Inspirational people, seemingly given mountains to cling in life, yet do it joyously and in open praise of the Lord. Yet as a group of us students in our church studies where told by a church elder whose daughter was born of life long illnesses â€œI donâ€™t want any pastor coming up to me and saying how this will make me strong, I donâ€™t want to hear that crapâ€.
God did not make us as robots and we all deal with things differently and at Belindaâ€™s house on Friday morning a wise man said of our lives in the hurting, â€œwe live with the cards dealt to usâ€ and if there are two things I have learnt in my life is to accept what is the hardest to accept.
That whenâ€whysâ€ come along, the things that seem so wrong and confusing, to know I have no answer. Just as when I see myself as I am and yet hear that I am saved in Christ, I have no answer to how that could possibly be. Both these situations to us, in our earthly love and wisdom make no sense what so ever.
In the hardships it can be confusing just where our Lord is in it all, yet it is just as confusing that in our sin, the Lord is right amongst it bringing forgiveness.
I was recently doing some reading about Abraham Lincoln that I found amazing. Far from just this stoic looking figure he was described as humorous and loved a good time with his mates. But I was amazed when I read of his severe depression to where the author wrote that Abe was a president that achieved so much, â€œbut the real miracle is that in carrying such a burden, it was amazing he got anything achieved at allâ€. But she went on and said that he came not to fight it, but used his struggle as an education. An education that canâ€™t be bought but was placed on him and gave him great empathy, understanding and courage to do good for his fellow human beings.
Some of us here today seemingly simply believed in the truth of Christ from the start without question while for some of us it was a long journey, but for both the Lord has been present. Maintaining the faith of the believer and bringing others to faith. With the believer as they suffered the hardship of loved oneâ€™s yet to find Christ, and with those yet to find Him as they suffered.
When Jesus arrived after the death of Lazarus, his sisters showed great faith in stating if only you were here, and Jesus wept.
In todayâ€™s Gospel, we see Jesus in joy at the wedding, and when the wine at the wedding ran out Mary shows great faith when she hands the situation over to Jesus and tells the servants to simple do as he says.
One a time of pain and he came and wept with them. One in a time of Joy and he celebrated with them, and in both in his concern and love for those involved, he responded.
Our theology is of the cross and thatâ€™s how it should be, where we stand at the base of the cross in sin with no hope in ourselves and only in Christ and when we come to know that no amount of our failures can take away his love and his salvation, in him alone, we know the truth.
But to know that truth can come at a cost because we are in a battle. Just as Jesus was tempted by Satan to not follow his father wishes so are we tempted to not believe in the truth. We may not see it but there is a fierce battle going on and that is why the Lord sticks so close. When we weep he weeps with us and when we feel joy he smiles with us.
We live under the cross because we know the truth of ourselves and Jesus walks with us because he knows the truth of the battle. The battle that he has won for us, and the battle he fights in us to see that truth. The battle that he knows is fierce.
We live under the cross yet although he knows our sin, sticks close to bring faith-faith that as we are told in Isaiah 62:5 that â€œlike a young man taking a virgin as his bride, He who formed you will marry you. As a groom is delighted with his bride, so your God will delight in youâ€.
That we live in sin and that we cannot believe on our own behalf, and then hear that the Lord delights in us-holds us up as something special, even great. That is unbelievable until we remember that scripture has told us the magnitude of whatâ€™s going on that â€œwhen one sinner comes to faith the whole heavenlyâ€™s and angels in song celebrate joyously.
In you before me I see greatness, maybe not greatness as the world sees it but as Christ sees it.
In Corinthianâ€™s we are told each is given gifts to serve the Lord. If you believe that in Christ alone you are saved you have the greatest gift you will ever receive. If you are still on a journey to faith he will not fail you.
Before me I see greatness, the greatness of our Lord that in his journey a man like Abraham Lincoln used the cards dealt to him to help many. The greatness of our Lord that looks at you today like a new bride over his groom, the greatness of our Lord that celebrates your faith.
The greatness of our Lord that has welcomed home Belinda with a smiling face and the greatness of our Lord that weeps with us in our grief.
We see ourselves standing at the cross in our sin, the Lord sees us resurrected with him.
Like Abraham Lincoln we know our shortcomings and crosses to bear, Christ sees the greatness that he will bring through our shortcomings and the crosses we bear. That we do not know of these outcomes is not of concern, just that they are now are in his hands and just as he has never failed us in the past, he will in the future and when we weep he weeps, when we laugh he laughs and when unbeknown to us, if his gifts to us contribute to a fellow sinner somehow coming to see the truth, the heavenlyâ€™s again erupt in a joyous song.
Your faith, not earnt but given freely is great in the Lordâ€™s eyes, if you mourn, mourn passionately, if you laugh, laugh passionately because your formation is a great gift, to you, your neighbour and to the Lord himself.