She Went Ahead Anyway

This has been a challenging year for my daughters and oldest niece. Raising kids in a pandemic, challenges at work, pregnancy (twins, no less!), illnesses, graduate school … you name it, they overcame it. I bought them matching candles for Christmas this year that said, ”She thought she could, so SHE DID.” I admire the persistence, tenacity, and downright stubbornness of these young women.

When I look at the young moms in my congregation negotiating the same troubled waters, I am in awe of all of them. Motherhood in a pandemic ain’t for sissies. I see you, young sisters, and you ROCK.

I was delighted to find that today’s lectionary passage is a homage to mothers who cajole, instruct, love ferociously, don’t take no for an answer, and are righteously ”pushy” when it comes to their children. Jesus had such a mom:

John 2 (The Message)

 1-3 Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.”

Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.”

Of all the translations we could use today, The Message is definitely the most fun. Imagine the son giving his assertive mother the side eye-and saying, ”Don’t push me.” How many times do mothers hear that? When we are signing our kids up for sports, running along behind the bike without the training wheels, neck deep in the pool with our arms outstretched yelling, ”Jump! I’ll catch you!” we are often met with resistance. Don’t push me. But we go ahead anyway. Why? Because most of the time, mother knows best.

She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”

Mary succeeds in blowing past all of Jesus’ resistance, hesitation, and objections. “Pfffft,” she says. “This is happening. You may not believe in yourself, but I DO.”

Have you every been there with your child? It is our job to get them through those ‘first day of school’ jitters, the fear of getting their shots, the scariness of the soccer field, driving a car for the first time, the separation anxiety that we feel even more than they do … parents have a high calling to be ”pushy” for the sake of their kids.

6-7 Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, “Fill the pots with water.” And they filled them to the brim.

“Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said, and they did.

And so because his mother believed in him, Jesus performed the first miracle.

9-10 When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”

11 This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

We can’t underscore the importance of this moment. This first sign of his glory enabled his disciples to believe in him. This first miracle paved the way for many more to come … miracles of feeding, miracles of healing, and eventually, miracles of resurrection. All because Mary believed first.

So moms and dads, keep believing in your kids. Keep pushing. Keep persisting. Don’t stop when they object, hide behind your leg, or say no. You know what is best, and because you believe, they will come to believe also. When you think they can, they will.

So go ahead anyway.

The First Glimpse of His Glory by Michelle Robertson

Sacred

What is sacred to you? Are there actions, behaviors, or things that you categorize as sacred and untouchable?

Things that people find sacred include marriage vows, children, sabbath practices, the language we use when we speak of God…we can attach holiness to any number of things. When we hold something as “sacred” we indicate its value and the prominence it takes in our lives.

The temple in Jerusalem was sacred to Jesus. It was his father’s house. It was a house of worship. It was a place where God resided. It was not to be violated or used for any other purpose than the worship of God.

John 2 (Contemporary English Version)

13 Not long before the Jewish festival of Passover, Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 There he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves in the temple. He also saw moneychangers sitting at their tables. 15 So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins.

16 Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, “Get those doves out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace.”

I remember a story that a former colleague once told of watching someone violate the sanctity of his church. It was at the end of a wedding, when people were still milling around the sanctuary waiting for pictures to be taken. (As a side note, I must confess that pastors often struggle with weddings and how they can become mere commercial venues for folks who have no notion of the sacredness of the space.) Such was the case that day, and my friend watched in horror as the father of the bride strode up the steps to the altar and lit a cigarette from the Christ candle. I haven’t seen this friend for over a decade, but I bet he still tells that story with the same sense of revulsion he felt when he observed it the first time.

Jesus felt the same revulsion at the loan sharks and money changers who charged exorbitant rates to lend money to people so they could buy overpriced animals for slaughter in the house that he loved. His actions that day remind us that we don’t have to put up with such violations in our sacred spots, whether they are physical locations or places in our hearts and minds. If someone is violating your spirit with their inappropriate words or behavior, throw them out of your life.

17 The disciples then remembered that the Scriptures say, “My love for your house burns in me like a fire.”

18 The Jewish leaders asked Jesus, “What miracle will you work to show us why you have done this?”

19 “Destroy this temple,” Jesus answered, “and in three days I will build it again!”

20 The leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple. What makes you think you can rebuild it in three days?”

21 But Jesus was talking about his body as a temple. 22 And when he was raised from death, his disciples remembered what he had told them. Then they believed the Scriptures and the words of Jesus.

This last part reminds us that even in his zeal to rid the temple of the merchants, Jesus ultimately acknowledges that he is the true temple. He is our church. He is our sacristy. He is our altar. Even after a temporary tear-down, he was rebuilt and raised from the dead. His words and his sacredness can never be defiled!

No matter what we build with our hands, the House of Jesus lasts forever.

Sacred Space by Kitty Hawk United Methodist Church