Sermon for 4th Ordinary C, Jan. 31, 2010, Luke 4:21-30

Luke 4:21-30

Like Football (only more so)

Scientists tell us that there are, in general, four capacities that we humans have that the rest of the animal kingdom does not: a capacity for verbal speech, for art (the arts), for music, and for faith – an awareness that there is another realm, a divine world.  When we gather for worship, verbally expressing our faith, we are surrounded by art and music.  We would not be fully human without any of these.  They form part of our identity; we are human: we speak, we love and long for beauty, we make and love music, and we are people to whom faith is crucially important.

Speaking is easy.  Music, we hear with our ears, art we take in with our eyes, but faith is the odd man out.  Faith is harder.  Faith is concerned with a world we do not hear or see directly, and yet we are aware of the spiritual world.  Sometimes the right words, or music or art become doors into that transcendent realm – when goose bumps rise because we have been moved, at some deep level which goes far beyond simple words or notes on a page or color on a canvass.

Glimpses are all we get, of a world that is not this world, but is one that we were ultimately made for.  Longing is often the feeling we have – to be in that place where the words and music and the art has allowed us momentarily to go – but cannot keep us long.

We long to know the God of whom we sing, the God to whom our hearts are drawn in those goose-bump moments.  We long to understand our place in God’s world – to know why we are here; what we were meant for.  We believe that we are not just groping around aimlessly in the darkness, but that God wants to be found, and that he has provided us help; guiding lights to show us the way.

God has, in the past, provided Spirit-inspired poets and prophets, including Moses, whose works we read, and they help, but we believe we have been given even more.  We believe that when God sent his Son Jesus to live among us humans, as one of us, God was giving us enormous help on our quest to know God.  Jesus gives us profoundly deeper insight into the God we long to know.

Gracious words of Comfort

As we watch Jesus and listen to Jesus, sometimes his words bring us comfort: we hear him teach that God is our Heavenly Father – and even if we are his prodigal sons and daughters, he runs to meet us upon our return.

Jesus teaches us that God is our good shepherd who will search high and low, night and day until he finds us, calls us by name, and brings us back into the safety of his fold.
Jesus teaches us that God is the King of the Universe whose justice is incorruptible, who cares for the weak and the oppressed, the widow, the orphan and the stranger, who opens the eyes of the blind, sets the captives free, and proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor: Jubilee; Freedom, restoration of all that evil has destroyed.

These are “gracious words” of Jesus and we love to hear them.  We, just like those people listening to Jesus teach back in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth are impressed that “Joseph’s son” has such depth of insight.

Here is the question that today’s text puts to us: is our deepest longing to know God, or merely to find comfort? We face the same question when we visit the doctor, don’t we?  Do we really want to know what is wrong with us, what is causing the pain, or do we just want to feel good?  What if the truth about the God we long for makes us uncomfortable: what then?

The text we read today began with people who were pleased to hear “gracious words” from Jesus, but one paragraph later were attempting murder to shut-up those words.  What happened?  What made them so angry?

All he did was to remind them of two stories – and they were stories they all knew well – they were Bible stories; mamma had read them at bed time, and no one wanted to throw her off the cliff!

The widow of Zarephath

What could possibly get people upset about that wonderful story of the prophet Elijah who, in a time of famine, asked the poor widow from Zarephath in Sidon for something to eat?  It was a great story.  She says she only has a handful of meal and enough oil to cook it into a cake, and it will be the last meal she and her son will eat before they die of starvation.  He tells her to go ahead and make it up for him, and promises that the meal and oil will not run out until the famine ends!

And that’s exactly how it happened; what a great story!  The only comment Jesus adds to the story is that there were many widows in Israel, but that Elijah went across the border in to Sidon and his presence saved a foreigner.  – Not much grounds for murder in that innocent observation, is there?

Naaman the Leper

What could possibly get people upset about that wonderful story of Naaman the leper?  His domestic servant, who was Jewish, convinced him that to be cleansed of his leprosy he needed to go to Israel, from his native Syria, and find the great prophet Elisha – which he did, and, long story short, after finally following Elisha’s advice to bathe in the Jordan River, he was healed.

The only comment Jesus adds to the story is that:

27 There were also many lepers in Israel …and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

– Not much grounds for murder in that innocent observation, is there?

Uncomfortable Observations about God

What do these two innocuous observations that Jesus made have in common?  They both highlight the fact that God’s work of redemption extended beyond the confines of Israel; that God’s care for the people made in his image was not limited to one race or nation – that it embraced widows from Zarephath in Sidon, and lepers from Syria.

That means that when Jesus said those “gracious words,” that everyone liked:

Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,”

He was teaching them something about God that they were not prepared to hear; something that did not increase their comfort-level.
God’s love is not limited to people like us.  God loves people from across the border in Syria and Sidon, in Haiti and Iraq, in North Korea and Iran.  God loves people who are not ethnically Israelite; he loves people whose skin pigmentation, facial features, hair characteristics, whose language, culture, music and art are different from ours; Haitians, Chinese, Brazilians, all of them made in his image – despite differences of language, art, music and forms of expressions of faith.

So, back to the story, Jesus is teaching that God does not hate the Romans, and if all they wanted God to do for them was to baptize their hatred of the Romans and make that hatred feel blessed and comfortable, sorry; God has other plans. He actually wants to redeem Romans! That’s what made them angry enough to attempt murder at the top of that cliff.

Another amazing human capacity: identity shifting

Besides language, art, music and faith, humans also have another characteristic that I have observed.  We have the capacity to do something I will call “identity-shifting.”  Let me explain it this way:

The Superbowl is next Sunday, Feb. 7: Indianapolis Colts vs. the New Orleans Saints.  Who should you cheer for?  Down here, we are for the New Orleans Saints.

If you are a sports fan, you identify with your team.  You look for things that you share in common with your team that differentiates you from the other team’s identity.   We identify with the Saints, because they are from the Gulf Coast, like we are, even though we are not from New Orleans, nor even Louisiana.  Clearly that regional connection differentiates us from Colts – all the way up there in Indiana.

But of course, we all know (at some level) that this region-based identity is a fiction.  I checked: the Saints have only two players on their roster who attended college in Louisiana.  One player actually attended college in Indiana – sorry Colts (- but he is actually from Louisiana! go figure.)

The Colts have only one player on their roster who attended college in Indiana, their backup QB who went to Purdue, though he is originally from Illinois!

So, the Saints aren’t really from the Gulf Coast region, and the Colts are not really comprised of Hoosiers.  And yet, even knowing that our regionally-based shared identity is fictional, we can still get excited for our team, take their side in every disputed penalty call and yard measurement, and feel happy if they win and disappointed if they loose.
This capacity to shift our identity, to embrace a team, that is, a group of people who are not really like us, and are not at all from our region, just because they put on a jersey with our teams colors this year, is amazing.  It means that we have the power to shift the criteria of our in-group.  We have the capacity to decide on what bases we understand “us” and “them.”
The people of Nazareth wanted the criteria to be ethnic: God is for “us,” and for “us alone.”  Jesus came to show us God at a profoundly deeper level.  The criterion that counts is Creation.  Let’s hear that again: the criterion that counts is Creation.
Even though the New Orleans Saints are not from the Gulf Coast, they wear the jersey of my team, so they will be my team; I will be for them.  The criterion for being a good fan is the team jersey.  The criterion that counts for us as Christians, is the criterion of Creation.
All humans on the face of the earth have been made in God’s image.   All of us, unless something unusual happens, have the God-given  capacities of speech, music, art and faith.  All of us are objects of God’s will to redeem, to restore, to heal, and to save from the destructive, debilitating effects of evil.

Does this new knowledge of God that Jesus brought make us uncomfortable?  Maybe so, maybe at first; but think of it: we – us, mostly European, mostly Caucasian, English-speaking Americans were not originally in the “in group”.  God’s embrace of non-Jews, of Syrians and Sidonians, as Jesus taught, opened the door that we walked through into the Kingdom of God.

It is that door that leads us to the great banquet at the end of the age, hosted by Messiah,  people of every nation, tribe, and language will gather, knowing God, our deepest longings fulfilled.

Essential Vocabulary of Faith: Redemption

Redemption:

That the mystery of evil is real and that it is always destructive of life and of fruitfulness, and that the human condition is that we all suffer from the effects of evil, sometimes as willing accomplices, sometimes as unwitting pawns.  But that evil never has the last word, but that God is constantly at work to redeem, to heal, to restore, and to forgive.

Sermon for Jan. 24, 010, 3rd Ordinary, C, Luke 4:14-21

Luke 4:14-21

Eyes Fixed (hearts?)

Because it is not possible to start with what we do not know, or what we do not understand, in order to know and understand better, we simply have to start at what we do know or understand, and work from there.

But our very human tendency, when we are faced with something as huge and tragic as the earthquake in Haiti, is to start in exactly the wrong place. We want to know why. “Why did this earthquake happen? Why were so many lives ended? Why so much suffering?” And of course, since it’s a long way from over, our questions also include, “Why will so many more die in these coming days – absent proper food, water and medicine?”

But we cannot start with the “Why?” question because we do not know, and we do not understand. This is the Monotheists’ dilemma: How can a good, all powerful God allow suffering? We feel like God has some explaining to do. We do not know why.

The wrong answer

I’m sure that by now most of us have heard the televangelist’s explanation: he attributed this catastrophe to God’s retribution for sins he believes the Haitian people committed two hundred years ago. This kind of comment will probably make atheists like Christopher Hitchins and Richard Dawkins squeal with delight – it gives them more reasons to be smug.

But it provides cold comfort for the families of the two American United Methodist ministers who were killed in the earthquake as they met to plan how to help the poor in Haiti. I want to ask Pat if he really believes that God is as clumsy as he believes he is brutal.

Didn’t the book of Job spend 42 chapters debunking the whole notion that you can trace the cause of suffering back to sin? In fact, isn’t that whole book a huge pain-cry of a person who wants to know the one thing none of us ever knows: Why?

Why earthquakes? Why cancer? Why clots? Why this? Why me? Why now? As we lean over the rail of that deep, dark chasm of mystery and shout out those questions, all we hear is our own voice as it echos back and forth, all the way down. We could toss a stone over the edge to follow the echoes, but we would never hear it hit bottom.

So if we cannot make any headway at all by starting with what we do not know, let us begin on solid ground with what we do know. Maybe we will not arrive at an answer in full, but perhaps we will look into that deep chasm of mystery from a more secure place.

Start with Jesus

We start with Jesus, whom we call Messiah, or Christ: the one anointed by God. Through the gospels, we can hear his voice, listen to his teaching, observe his actions; Jesus were we begin. Jesus is what we know (or at least constantly struggle to know).

The story we read today is perfect for us, facing these questions today, because in this text, Jesus starts at the beginning and gives his inaugural address. The setting is his hometown, Nazareth.

Picture a small village, may 75 or 80 humble homes (200 – 400 total inhabitants: men, women and children). It’s on a hill, surrounded by valleys and other hills. There is a small synagogue: all of the faithful gather there on the Sabbath to worship, pray, and to hear the reading of Torah. Jesus arrives.

He has been away from home just recently. He has traveled, probably on foot, from Nazareth all the way down to the Jordan River where he was baptized by John – that was when the Holy Spirit came down on him in the form of a dove. On his way back, he has detoured into the wilderness for 40 days during which he was tempted. After that, Jesus has spent time teaching in other synagogues in Galilee; we don’t know how many or for how long, but his reputation is growing.

Now, he is back with his extended family – his clan; back on home soil. He probably grew up in that synagogue, hearing Torah read every Saturday from his regular seat on the bench. Now this local boy has grown up; he is a rising star. It is his first chance to take the floor.

The Song of Servant of the Lord

They give him the scroll. It’s a big one – the prophet Isaiah. He unrolls its stiff yellow, hand-sewn sections, until he finds the text he wants. It’s one of the poems , or songs Isaiah wrote called a “servant song.” The singer is “the servant of the Lord.” Jesus reads the words of the song:

18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Ah, yes; the Servant Song; a well known; beloved text. A good choice for a first sermon back home. All eyes, Luke tells us, were fixed on him. What will he say about this text? They all know the words, but no one really knows to whom it refers.

Who is that Servant of the Lord who is coming? All they know is that he will be called Messiah because, as it says in the song, he is “anointed”, Messiah means anointed, by God – specifically by means of the Spirit.

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me…

The Servant’s Spirit-empowered mission

So what will be the mission of the Spirit-anointed Messiah, the servant of the Lord? He will go to where the pain is, as a channel through which the Spirit, who anointed him, may flow out to suffering people.

The Servant is anointed by the Spirit to bring good news – a word that means, an official pronouncement, a cause for rejoicing – to people like those sitting there in Nazareth with hard-calloused hands and dirty finger nails; the poor. He will proclaim that the days of their bondage, their oppression, their captivity to the enslaving powers-that-be are over. He will open up blinded eyes and let the oppressed go free.

Isaiah’s Servant sings this song with a melody in a minor key; a lament that began long ago. There was a time when the people were shackled together in chains, force-marched out of their land at the point of a Babylonian spear. Their king was in that chain-gang too, along with his sons, the heirs to his throne.

When the ones who survived finally arrived in the land of their captivity, the royals were taken to the king of Babylon. The last thing King Zedekiah of Judah saw before they blinded his eyes was the execution of his sons. The Servant sings of a time when blind eyes will see again, exiles will be released, the oppressed will be freed; it will be an official proclamation of good news to poor people.

And one more thing: the Servant sings of a restoration of the Year of Jubilee; the year of the Lord’s favor. This was the year when debts were forgiven, land was returned to its original tribes, clans, and families; everyone got a fresh start to live in the promised land as originally intended.

Jesus’ Inaugural 9 Word Sermon

And so, with every familiar eye fixed on him in the synagogue that smelled like home, Jesus finished the reading

20 “And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.”

And from the teacher’s chair, he began with the nine words (in English) that cast the dye:

21“…Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.

The Spirit-filled Servant of the Lord, the anointed Messiah, is present: the proclamation of the good news of Jubilee has commenced, right here, right now.

“Why?” becomes “Who?”

Why do people suffer? Why are there cruel Babylonians? Why are there pap-doc Duvalier’s, and Saddam Hussein’s, and Osama Bin Laden’s? Why are there tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes? And why do the poorest of the poor suffer so disproportionally every time?

The “Why?” questions echo; the chasm is bottomless. We do not have a solution to “Why?”. But we do have a “who.” We can start with what we know. We can start with Jesus. We can fix our eyes on him, as they did that day. We can listen to him as he teaches us.

What do we know?

What do we know from Jesus? What is our solid-ground starting point?

From Jesus we know that God is Good. That God is our Father in Heaven. That God’s will, God’s purpose, is not to find bad people to crush, but to go to where the pain is, and bring good news. God is on the side of people who suffer. He is for the poor, for the exiled, for the oppressed, for the blinded, for debtors and debt-slaves.

From Jesus we know that God’s Spirit that anointed Jesus at his baptism and flowed out through him to those poor folks in Nazareth and Galilee, has been poured out on us, his church! Now we are the vessels, the channels, the conduits of his mercy.

We do not and never will know “Why?”; but because we know Who, because we know Jesus, we know at least something true and solid about God: God is Love. God is Good, and God’s heart breaks for the suffering of the men and women, the boys and girls, and the little babies made in his image.

We do not know all the answers – but we do know what God wants of us; to join him in his mission to the world he made and loves. To fix, not only our eyes on Jesus, but also our hearts; to be followers of Jesus; disciples of Jesus, doing what he did. This is our mission: to Love God, to grow in faith, and to share Christ’s love.

What do we do?

Last week you made me so proud; we have already collected over $1,000 for Haiti – and that was only from the Sunday collection; more has come in since, and continues. You also gave me cause for joy as many of you met here for the Christian Service Center volunteers training. You also made phone calls, wrote cards, prayed for the people among us in hospital and in pain. You came here yesterday to support the Boy’s Ranch, and now, here you are in worship again.

Why do people suffer? We do not know. But we know God through Jesus Christ, his Messiah; and so we know why we are here, and what we need to do.  Bless you!

Sermon for 2nd Ordinary, C, Jan. 17, 2010, John 2:1-11

Isa 62:1-5
John 2:1-11

“OK, so where do we wash?”

We have all been following the news from Haiti with profound sadness.  The things we have seen are beyond our capacity to understand.  Pictures of the streets full of people, living and dead; scenes of agony and desperation in a place not far away, a place that suffers and suffers and then must suffer more.
How can we hear a text from scripture as we just have, about a wedding; a time of joy, in a time of such agony?  How can we speak of banquet wine in abundance when we see desperate people queuing for survival-water?  How can we speak of divine intervention, a miracle in which God changes the course of nature for the sake of a few at a celebration, when nature has been allowed once again to utterly ravage the lives of tens of thousands of poor people, men, women, and as we see daily, little children?

I believe that it is remarkable that our lectionary gives us this story of the wedding in Cana today, today of all days, because it speaks directly to these questions.   We need to hear this story as it was meant to be heard.

John’s multi-layered gospel

I need to begin this way.  John’s gospel was written a full 60 years or so after Jesus’ earthly ministry.  The church has had a long time to think, ponder, and reflect: not just on what Jesus said and did, but on the meaning behind the events and words.   The story of Jesus that comes out is different from the earlier gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke in its style and tone.

John’s story of Jesus is also a thick story.  It is layered deeply, richly.  Almost every word and phrase is chosen like the dots of color in a Botticelli painting.   The dots, or the layers, are the stories of Israel’s past.  Each story adds richness, texture, and depth to the story of Jesus that John tells.

Israel’s founding story (layer 1)

Israel’s founding story is told in Exodus: you remember the scene in which the people, newly freed from slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt, cross the Red Sea, and come to Mt. Sinai.  The Mountain is thundering and quaking, and a thick cloud hides the glory of the Lord’s presence.  The voice of God tells Moses to tell the people to consecrate themselves; to wash their cloths in purifying waters and to be ready.  On the third day, the Lord “will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” (Exod 19:10)

And he did:

16 “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled.  17 Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain.” (Exod. 19:16-17)

What happened on that third day?  The Lord gave his Torah, his law, and the purified people experienced his awesome glory.  This is level one.  This is why John begins this story after a period of preparation for it “on the third day” and why, at the conclusion we read

11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

And this is why there is so much attention given in this story to listening to the words of Jesus, doing everything he tells you to do, as his mother tells them, and why when they do, it is miraculous.  Hearing the words of Jesus and acting on them obediently is like hearing the word of God giving his Torah from Mt. Sinai.

The layer of the purity quest (layer 2)

There is another layer in John’s story of Jesus at the wedding in Cana; the purity level.  There is no such thing as understanding Jesus unless we understand this layer.  What does God want from us?  What is it that we need to do to make him happy with us?
As it turns out, there are two kinds of problems we have to solve in order to be in God’s good graces according to the Old Testament: one is that we have to deal with the sins, the bad things we have done.  The other is that we need to make sure we dignify his presence with purity.  It’s not a sin to touch a dead animal or blood, but it does make you impure, and in order to stand and worship God, you need to be purified.  You need to go through ritual purification, often involving washing your clothes and bathing.

On the other hand, when it comes right down to it, rituals of purification like purification sacrifices, washings and bathings are not the weightiest, most important issues.  They pale in comparison to what Jesus called “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” (Matt  23:23)
What does God want the most from us?  The prophet Micah sums it up this way:

6   “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)

Is the quest to be ritually, ceremonially pure ever at odds with the quest to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

The Good Samaritan’s wine and the victim’s blood

Let me tell you a story: there was a man who went down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho who fell among some bandits.  They stripped him of his valuables, beat him, and left him for dead beside the road.  He had wounds that needed dressing, he was bleeding.  Along came a priest and then a Levite.  They knew that to touch him, to dress his wounds, to come in contact with his blood would make them ritually, ceremonially impure.  So they passed him by on the other side of the road.
But a person who was not at all an expert in keeping the purity laws came by and saw him.  He had compassion on him.  He acted with mercy, and Jesus tells us,

34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. (The Story of the Good Samaritan is found in Luke 10:20, ff.)

The priest and the Levite, so concerned with staying pure, missed the “weightier matters of  justice, mercy and faith.”

Empty jars in Cana

At that wedding in Cana, where did Jesus tell the servants to put the water that he was going to turn to wine?  Into the 6“six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification.”
You might think that the people would be inconvenienced in some way by this: where were they going to wash themselves to make themselves ritually, ceremonially clean if their purification jars were full of wine?
John asks us to look more deeply at this picture: Jesus found those purification water jars empty.  Nobody was going to be made pure from them.  The quest to keep yourself in God’s good graces by ritual and ceremony was an empty, failed one.   Jesus first told them to fill the empty purification jars with water, to the brim, and afterwards, he replaced the water with wine; wine of superb quality to drink – perhaps wine from which one could dress the bloody wounds of a victim on the road.

The layer of the abundance of the Banquet of Messiah (layer 3)

There is one more layer to see in John’s story of Jesus; the layer of abundance.  Jesus did not just make a little wine that day.  John goes out of his way to be specific with this detail.  Jesus made wine out of z“six stone water jars each holding twenty or thirty gallons.” That’s a minimum of of 6 X 20, or 120 gallons of wine!

Why is this layer of detail so important?  Because it comes from the ancient prophets of Israel.  They imagined a time in the future when God would do a new thing for his people.  God would come to be with them in a powerful, saving way.  When he did, it would be like a huge banquet, hosted by his Messiah.  Isaiah imagines it this way:

6   On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.  for the LORD has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25:6-9)

Seeing the Layers together

Let us look at John’s story of Jesus with the layers put back together in the rich, dense way that John gave it to us.  Jesus comes to his people at a time when their efforts to please God through the quest for perfect purity has exhausted itself; the jars of purification water are empty and useless.  He comes on the third day, as God did on Sinai, speaking words, as God spoke Torah to Moses.  When those words are heeded obediently, when they do all that they are told, the hour of God’s salvation begins.
Now, where there was emptiness, there is abundance – enough for a huge banquet feast, just like the prophets imagined.  Now, instead of the pinched-off, self-conscious, self-referential, agony over personal purity that leaves other people suffering and bleeding on the side of the road, there is wine enough to rejoice with for everyone; the clean, the unclean, the whole, the bleeding, the impure and everyone else.  This is the sign that the kingdom of God has come!  This is the sign that, if you see it, understand it, and believe it, will bring the most glory to God!

Implications for us in this Earthquake time

Now we see why this text is so important for us at this time of great need.  This is not the story of a once upon a time magic trick.  This is about what Jesus’ coming to earth means at its deepest level.  It means the whole game has changed.  God’s concern is not about ceremony and ritual; God’s concern is to bring his overwhelming presence into the midst of our daily lives.  When it comes, when we hear his words, as we understand what he cares about, as we experience his abundance, we respond with the same extravagance to the hurting, bleeding people around us.
That is why we need to hear this when Haiti is in agony.  We are the ones with the wine of the kingdom, bursting from our wine-sacks.  The people of Haiti right now are the victims on the side of the road, bleeding, needing help.  We will go over to them, touch them, bind their wounds, get bloody, become impure – who cares? – take out that wine and pour it on the hurting places, bringing healing and relief.
What happens when people of faith respond obediently to the words of Jesus in this way?  Glory breaks out.  God is glorified.  Jesus is glorified.  God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven!

Photo credit: New York Times online