Dear brothers and sisters,
God has been writing an epic story, the story of God’s unrelenting pursuit of a relationship with us, and a battle with Satan ever since the beginning, since Adam and Eve. The presence of God is announced in a very real way in Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Then there is silence; Jesus grows up in the quiet of Nazareth. After Jesus’ baptism, now he’s ready to start a movement that’s going to stretch across centuries to the present day. The first thing Jesus does is to invite Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nathaniel – he forms a small group. Then he begins his ministry. Jesus knows the power of Satan, and he’s about to battle Satan in the temptation in the desert, all the way to Jerusalem, to the cross; but he doesn’t do it alone. We are part of the battle if we know it or not, and Satan is actively opposed at ever step to our growth. Jesus had his disciples, and he has us, as part of his epic story.
Right at the beginning of Jesus’ mission, we hear (John 2:1-11) about the Wedding Feast at Cana. There is a shortage of wine, and Jesus seems to resist; his response to his mother sounds harsh. Yet Mary persists; she says, “Do whatever he tells you.” It’s the same resistance that many feel when church members ask them to join groups or organizations. He’s about to begin an epic mission, but why does he go to a wedding as he begins this journey? Two points: first, Jesus seems reluctant to step into the “mess” of this wedding. Think how chaotic weddings can be – the bride, groom, and parents must have been in a panic because of the shortage of wine. Mary persists in asking Jesus, and in the end, Jesus is not reluctant, but extravagant. It is not just good wine; it is the best wine, and it is much more than the wedding ever needed. Likewise, if we invite Jesus into the mess of our story with a strong faith in him, he will respond in an extravagant way. At the intersection where we accept God’s invitation into his story – and we invite God into our story – our faith grows, and our relationships grow. In order to grow, we all must be willing to share our story in an authentic, personal way with others.
Second, notice that the event of the Wedding Feast at Cana, where Jesus chooses to first reveal his glory, is all about relationships. Few events mark important parts of our story more than weddings: two people come together to celebrate a special bond, and two families leave their busy lives and come together in a special way, perhaps travelling a long distance, and perhaps not even knowing each other previously. Jesus’ life was all about fixing broken relationships. He was not afraid of the mess that we all create. He went to lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes – in fact, sinners of all kinds were drawn to Jesus. Jesus was willing to make life messy so that we grow and come closer to him.
The invitation today is to join a Small Group where we can bring the “mess” we have and find acceptance. A small group could be a parish organization, prayer group, or informal group of family or friends – any circle where we find both support and challenge. They are a place where we can grow to recognize and understand the role we play in God’s story. We hope that small groups are a place that your faith grows in how God wants to enter into your story in extravagant ways. Questions for this week:
Jesus was not afraid to step into the mess of the wedding feast at Cana. Do you really trust that God wants you – mess and all – in the story he is writing?
Do you believe Small Group is a place to grow in relationship with God and others through my mess? How much of your mess are you willing to bring to your Small Group? Do you believe God will have an extravagant response if we accept his invitation into his story?
Who needs your invitation to join a Small Group so that person can see their place in God’s story more clearly and invite God into their story?