The Glory Has Departed

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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Second Sunday after Epiphany, 2016 - John 2:1-11.
Turning Water into Wine through the Word

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn #39                             Praise to the Lord                   
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 370            My Hope Is Built             

Water into Wine - Jesus Blesses the Marriage at Cana

The Hymn #128                          Brightest and Best               
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #309                 O Jesus, Blessed Lord             

KJV Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on ourministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Letlove be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.


Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thy grace Thou hast instituted holy matrimony, in which Thou keepest us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech Thee to send Thy blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Thy gracious help in all temptations, and rear their children in accordance with Thy will; grant unto us all to walk before Thee, in purity and holiness, to put all our trust in Thee, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Water into Wine - Jesus Blesses the Marriage at Cana

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 

The Gospel of John constantly proves the necessity of a fourth Gospel, revealing significant events and miracles, but also great sermons and teaching. One reader calls it "The Doctrinal Gospel" and this lesson is a good example.

When we know a Biblical passage too well, we ignore telling details. It is like people who know exactly how to get to a favorite place in their cars but cannot give directions, forgetting the details that are embedded in the mind and habits.

The mother of Jesus was at the wedding. It is clear from the details that Mary stood in for the mother of the bride. Parents of the bride and groom are never mentioned, so that is more reason to believe this couple is rather poor, so Mary is helping out by managing and hosting the wedding.

Jesus and His disciples were invited, so their presence alone shows that Jesus blessed the institution of marriage. The presence of the disciples also meant that there were many witnesses besides the guests.

Luther has quite a long section on marriage being despised by the self-made saints among the Catholic priests and monks. Some pretended to be so pure that they would not even attend a marriage. That reminds me of modern Pharisees who would not attend the funeral of a Lutheran from another sect. One said he would only stand at the back, at the very most. If such pretensions converted the masses the entire world would be Christian today.

But the despising of marriage itself has a modern day counterpart - our own society. America seems especially bent on hating marriage out of existence. The young men and women delay marriage and avoid it as much as possible, arguing against the commitment, the expense, and bother of being married. Some Eastern seaboard women have published articles on how they kept waiting for the perfect man and discovered that fatal flaw was not so bad after all, but someone else married those imperfect specimens. 

Besides that, many who are married live as though they are not married. They carry on like single hedonists and expect everyone to understand. And yet this most basic of contracts is one that everyone understands, even in the mad era of ending the institution altogether. People respect fidelity whether they believe in God or not. And they look down on those who act the part but are unfaithful.

Children, who should be regarded as the blessed fruit of marriage, are the object of fear and horror. The only concession to this terrible burden, as seen by moderns, is "one and done," having a single child to lessen the burden and horrors of multiple children. Of course, many couples are prevented by health reasons from having more children, but that is not the same as avoiding children as much as possible.

Merkel, the idiot premier of Germany, thinks women should have more babies, but she never had a single one. Her "child" was her career.

All this about the hatred of marriage and having children comes from despising the Word. God in His wisdom instituted marriage with Adam and Eve, knowing this to be necessary and beneficial. Ancient Judaism considered marriage a necessity and supported the institution with a contract where parents would support the couple for a given number of years.

I called on one man and told him he was despising the Word, and teaching his three children the same. He became alarmed and denied this. I said, "You have not married the mother of your three daughters. You are teaching them to despise marriage, which God instituted through His Word." Soon after he asked me to marry them and to take lessons to join the church. This caused an uproar in that church because they did not approve of this, so they might have renamed their parish The Pot Calls the Kettle Black. But that is what happens when the Word is taught as revealed in the Scriptures. Good things happen and Satan's minions do their best to root out the Word and destroy it. They fare no better than copper thieves who cut into live power lines to line their pockets and experience the power of electricity. (You do not want to see the photos.)

So the Middle Ages was one of antagonism toward marriage. Priests were married, like the Apostle Peter and the other Apostles, but the institution of monks did not allow it. The monkish provisions were aimed at the priests but not followed. Many were married at the time of Luther, but the Council of Trent re-emphasized the forbidding of marriage. Now we have everyone except men and women wanting to be married. The famous Episcopalian bishop left his wife to marry his boyfriend, but divorced his boyfriend as well, disclosing he was married to liquor.

Two ways to mock marriage are the lavish events that spend as much money as possible, often a solemn warning about the future. Even worse is the entertainment wedding, where the wedding party dances down the aisle, where the priest sings a secular solo, and even worse - where the bride bellows a solo about how wonderful her groom is - as he wipes his metrosexual eyes in reaction.
All this is within and around the altar, suggesting that this union is not to honor God but to showcase the talents of the people gathered their. And people clap for these abominations and pat the clergy on the back for being so cool.

What God creates is also blessed by Him. The Medieval monks admitted that God only established one estate - that of marriage, but they set themselves above it anyway. This lesson, by itself, corrects that notion.

Merriment and Pietism
Luther wrote about people having a good time at a marriage. That is another great insight about the sour-puss saints who never want anyone to have a good time. I came from the Pietistic Augustana Synod (more so than some of the older Pietistic groups, like the ULCA, ALC, WELS, and LCMS). Dancing was a major issue for the Augustana and Augustana College. 

Because this concern came from Pietism, and not the Bible, Augustana was too weak to deal with societal changes by remaining true to Biblical doctrine. When the radicals demanded it, Augustana College joined the extreme Left in every respect of the word, sad to say.

Oddly, the Wisconsin Sect, born in Pietism and despising the Confessions, always felt a need to prove it was not Pietistic. Therefore, the college for future pastors organized drinking parties and fostered underage drinking to excess, so many graduated (as they still do today) as alcoholics. Nothing is more Pietistic than to prove one is not a Pietist by becoming helpless and ridiculous through abusive drinking.

God Lets Us Feel the Want
As always, Luther unites the entire Word of God when he preaches a sermon. That is why I post one per week, to get Lutherans used to Luther again. 

There was really only one beverage for the guests - wine. The couple was poor but honoring God's Word and getting married. Mary, Jesus, and the disciples did not look down on the lack of wealth, but honored the couple with their presence. However, the lack of wine was an embarrassment which was deeply felt, as such things are. Marriage ceremonies are supposed to be perfect in all their details - at least the wedding party hopes so. 

I conducted an outdoor wedding overlooking the beautiful Fayetteville Valley. They set up a church setting there. Everything was complete. Except there was no knife of any kind for the very gooey wedding cake. That made us vow to keep one in the trunk of the car for any such future events. Cutting a cake with a paper plate cannot be done with enough skill to make up for the lack of a knife.

People think their lack is a sign of God's displeasure, but the moment we think everything is wonderful, thanks to our efforts, our thankfulness to God diminishes and our self-conceit grows. 

But when we feel the want sharply, the work of God is to show us how He was answering our prayers before we even asked. We know that from someone having a child after many years. My cousin had his first after 25 years. He said, "We wanted to see if the marriage worked, first."

13. But the example of faith is still more wonderful in this Gospel. Christ waits to the very last moment when the want is felt by all present, and there is no counsel or help left. This shows the way of divine grace; it is not imparted to one who still has enough, and has not yet felt his need. For grace does not feed the full and satiated, but the hungry, as we have often said. Whoever still deems himself wise, strong and pious, and finds something good in himself, and is not yet a poor, miserable, sick sinner and fool, the same cannot come to Christ the Lord, nor receive his grace.

14. But whenever the need is felt, he does not at once hasten and bestow what is needed and desired, but delays and tests our faith and trust, even as he does here; yea, what is still more severe, he acts as though he would not help at all, but speaks with harshness and austerity. This you observe in the case of his mother. She feels the need and tells him of it, desiring his help and counsel in a humble and polite request. For she does not say: My dear son, furnish us wine; but: “They have no wine.” Thus she merely touches his kindness, of which she is fully assured. As though she would say: He is so good and gracious, there is no need of my asking, I will only tell him what is lacking, and he will of his own accord do more than one could ask.

God can answer prayers in ways far different from what we plan as the ideal. I thought it would be fairly easy to move near the grandchildren, with one university having a local campus here. It was an easy transition to make, but the local campus closed. Nevertheless, other things have happened. But it was something we dreamed about for years. Anything especially good would have kept us in Arizona forever. But it went the other way there and that pushed us on here.

Yesterday grandson Alex spotted a cardinal feeding outside our window. I said, "I put a lot of seed in the dish so it would be feeding there and you would see it." He said, "You did that for me?" I said, "Yes, and I put suet in the cages so the starlings would eat and make a big fuss, which brings more birds." Alex said, "You fed noisy birds to bring even more birds to the feeder?" He was grinning and a laughing about that. And that of course is a dream come true for grandparents.

Luther had Joseph and Marry saying, "Oh, we can stay with relatives once we get to Bethlehem." But God provided a place, which was difficult for them and yet ideal for teaching us about what God honors (faith) and what He despises (a display of wealth, pomp, and power).

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 

This shows the lack of wine, which is expressed by Mary, not by anyone else. We can see how she was hosting this wedding. And yet Jesus sharpened the want by seeming to refuse. There are many such episodes in the Scriptures, such as the Canaanite woman. This one reveals Jesus addressing her as Woman (not dear woman or dear lady), which shows He is her Lord, not her servant. The Church of Rome mixes this up and has Jesus obeying Mary's commands.

Jesus also addressed Mary as "woman" at the cross, in a very telling set of comments. She is to be "mother" to the Apostle John, but woman, when Jesus addresses her. And yet this is so difficult for the pea-brained modern translators that they must add words to make Jesus a polite obedient Son and not the Lord.

"My hour is not yet come" seems to be a complete rejection of her implied request. But Mary showed faith in bringing the need to her Son.

That shows the great gap between faith in Jesus and the modern tendency to boss God around and make demands about time, manner, and place. When that happens, God does not answer and often takes away what little was there. We can see that in all the religious empires where the "sign" of God's favor was the big building, not scholarships for poor students or help for poor people.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

Mary's faith did not wilt away, so this is an example of "Whatever God wills..." Jesus expressed the same when He said, "If it be Your will, take this cup from Me..."

16. This is where faith stands in the heat of battle. Now observe how his mother acts and here becomes our teacher. However harsh his words sound, however unkind he appears, she does not in her heart interpret this as anger, or as the opposite of kindness, but adheres firmly to the conviction that he is kind, refusing to give up this opinion because of the thrust she received, and unwilling to dishonor him in her heart by thinking him to be otherwise than kind and gracious-as they do who are without faith, who fall back at the first shock and think of God merely according to what they feel, like the horse and the mule, Psalm 32:9. For if Christ’s mother had allowed those harsh words to frighten her she would have gone away silently and displeased; but in ordering the servants to do what he might tell them she proves that she has overcome the rebuff and still expects of him nothing but kindness.

Many miracles have details altogether lacking in others. Those details really matter because the Gospels are quite brief, far shorter than any "Life of Jesus."
These details show us that many witnesses could verify no tricks were used, and tricks are common in displays of great power. 

The special effects are based on misdirection of the eyes. I rubbed a paste between my fingers and made smoke come from my hands. That was very convincing to people who heard it was smoke - close up - they were just filaments. I made a coin disappear in my hands in front of UOP faculty members. All I did was show part of one coin and press the small one into the larger one. They saw the finished product, which was heavy and quite realistic. But they saw what they were told to see.

The servants, not Jesus, filled the waterpots. The others, not Jesus, tasted the water turned into wine. They took the wine to the toastmaster, who knew nothing about how this developed. This removed any aspect of trickery, which was bound to be made by the opponents later in time. There is in fact a chemical trick that is easily performed, because one photographic chemical will turn a clear one into a purple wine colored potion - but not one for drinking of course. 

9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 

This is a good example of ironic humor, because the toastmaster is irritated with the groom about the quality of the wine. Not only was there an abundance of wine, but the best wine, so good that the groom faced the anger of the taster. And that only made the miracle that much more memorable.

The modernists hate the Gospel of John for showing the divinity of Christ so clearly, not to mention many other things unique to this Gospel. But I believe - riffing on the toastmaster - that they are angered by the quality of the Gospel. No other Gospel is so personal and so much an eye-witness account. And yet this is not a correction of errors but a welcome addition to the Synoptic Three Gospels. A Gospel written 300 years later would not be so precise, so personal, and so close to the Judaism of its time (poetic sermon form,  much like the Psalms).

Transformation by the Word

Jesus changed the water into the best wine by His Word. As they carried out His routine instructions, something any servant or person could do, God's beloved Son turned their task into a miracle.

The works-salesmen want everyone to dream about great roles, great wealth, and great buildings to be built. So many think an ordinary task is beneath them. 

And yet God transforms all tasks through His Word received in faith. No honest job or task is divorced from this transformation. Each effort, no matter how menial, glorifies God when done in faith.

Luther applied this to marriage as well. What others see as the burdens and difficulties of marriage are transformed by God's Word. The difficulties are not taken away. They may even increase, much to the delights of scornful unbelievers. But the couple will experience the delights of marriage, including facing the difficulties and the lack of this or that.

I read a post where someone said, "I have all the money I need and more. I do what I want with my time. I do not answer to anyone. I am not married and do not have children." I thought - yes, this is the conclusion of the Me Generation, forgetting who worked on the factory line to pay for food and housing, who changed the diapers and stayed up all night to watch the fever, etc.

The guests did not say, "We expect a miracle." No one expected what God did through the Word. No one could ask for such a remarkable event. And yet to this day, some ask, "How can the Word change ordinary bread and wine?" To deny this is to deny the Miracle of Cana. To deny this is to deny the power of Christ, turning Him into a teacher of morality and really nice guy.

This is the gap between Modernism and the Word of God. No one can bridge it or forge a compromise. Christianity is not the Amen Corner of modern culture but the power of God to transform a me-centered pagan culture into faith in the mercy of God through Christ.