This past Sunday, we looked at the story of the wedding of Cana, and Jesus' miracle of turning 150 gallons of water into the most exquisite wine, the very best. Of course, that only mattered if people actually drank it! The wine was one of the seven "signs" of John's gospel that point to something much deeper and even more real. That Jesus truly is the Son of God and that as John announces in the opening chapter, he has to be not only believed upon, but also received. And we have a problem receiving! When I say that, I am not just talking about those "outside" the faith, but I see it regularly among the faithful too, sadly. What does it mean in reality to receive the gift of life? What does it mean to receive the gift of the Spirit of Christ? What gets in the way and causes us to live with less than God intends for us? Have you ever tried to express sorrow or sadness for someone only to have them say, oh that's ok, I'm fine? Have you ever offered to help someone with a task or project only for them to say, I'm good, I've got this ok? Have you ever said to someone, you're beautiful .. or so talented .. or creative .. or intelligent only for them to deny it or resist it? Have you ever offered an apology only to be told by the other party that they don't forgive you and will never trust you again? Not only do we miss out on the gift, but equally important the experience of connection with the giver!
We also looked at these verses from Isaiah and yet how many of us struggle to receive these words as being true for us? It can be so hard to believe and receive the truth that God delights in us, that He rejoices over us ... with singing! Why is it so hard? Well this shows the power of sin in our lives and not just our own. To sin is to "miss the mark" and the "mark" is fundamentally defined by love. Our experiences of missing love from others, from repeating the pattern and selfishly withholding love from others, means that powerful emotions, often tied to rigid patterns of thinking, make it hard for us to think and receive "outside the box" we have created for ourselves. Therefore to receive means stopping our patterns of behavior, busyness, thoughts and asking the Holy Spirit to establish new truths, new realities, new experiences out of the "Truth" revealed through the life of Jesus and through His words. It takes courage, humility, new hunger and desire. We must risk losing everything we have come to rely on and trust in, especially ourselves, and receive His grace and truth in the many ways it is offered to us. Do you have a closed or fixed mindset or is your mind open to receive the "new thing" the Lord wants to do in your life, your family and our community? Paul sums this up well, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Rom 12:2)
Much love and prayers, Pastor Mike