Monday, January 15, 2007

Called Reluctantly, Served Enthusiastically

1 Corinthians 12: 1-11
John 2: 1-11

Sometimes, hesitation isn’t necessarily a signal that someone doesn’t want to do something. Sometimes, hesitation is the moment when someone takes a breath, and steps forward. Like a bride that takes a deep breath before she takes her first step down the aisle, or like a President who stops to pray before he or she steps out onto the Capitol rotunda to take his oath of office.

“My hour has not yet come”, He says. “Woman, what am I going to do with you?” He says. To our modern ears, we can make Jesus’ voice sound loving, as in teasing his mom, or chiding, saying something like, “don’t push me!” But John gives us this moment, perhaps to highlight the moment when Jesus has decided to begin his ministry. Mary seems to know, too—“Do whatever he tells you”, she says to the stewards.

There’s a moment that people often take during events of great importance.

It’s often said that Rosa Parks was an accidental pawn in a greater struggle, that she did not intend for her refusal to give up her seat to a white man to become the Montgomery Bus Boycott. According to David Garrow, author of a history of the Civil Rights movement Bearing the Cross, she did hesitate briefly, before she allowed her arrest to become the basis of the boycott. She had been a member of the NAACP, had held several offices before that day. But she did hesitate briefly, initially reluctant, before she realized that this was the moment and she was the person.

John, the writer of this Gospel, tells this particular story for a reason. He seems to be saying, by this miracle being first, we can learn something about Jesus, and through him, something about God. God’s grace is abundant, and God loves his people to be happy. The wine running out at a wedding party could have been very embarrassing to the bridegroom. That Jesus made more wine for the party, and the best stuff of the day at that, shows us how abundant life can be with him. And it is the right kind of abundance—not abundant in terms of cars or video games, but in terms of friendship, relationship, and grace.

It was relationship that ultimately persuaded a reluctant Martin Luther King, Jr. to assume the presidency of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the group created to administer the Bus Boycott. He had actually preferred another of the ministers of Montgomery. But there was an impasse, and he was nominated by his friends as a compromise candidate. According to Garrow, his response was “well, ok, if you feel I will do some good”.

And ultimately, he did do some good. Good enough to be remembered with a federal holiday that celebrates what would have been his 78th birthday. Good enough to be the leader and catalyst of a movement that enabled America to grow as a country and claim for itself part of it’s original promise, that all men are created equal. That it is not yet fully realized is not to be blamed on him. He did more out of his original hesitation than most of us do with our blind and rigid certainties.

Our hesitations can be based in insecurity. We can hesitate because we are scared of the job before us, because we are uncomfortable with the people we need to work with, because we don’t feel we know enough about what we are doing. But we know, in the story of the wedding at Cana, God provides, and provides abundantly.

God provides, but what does God provide? God supplies a people a variety of gifts, but it all comes from the same Spirit. God supplies these gifts for a variety of situations, a variety of services, but it is just one Spirit that does the supplying. In a community, a true community where people talk, eat and worship together, one Spirit provides all the talents, gifts and graces to keep the community alive and well.

If we but ask. If we but believe. If we but trust.

If we but take a moment, hesitate, and ask God for guidance. If we give our prejudices, decisions, and fears to God, and try REALLY hard not to take them back. Then we can be led by the Spirit to God’s will. We could be led to great things, and we know that great things remain to be done in our world. The United States was changed by a young African-American Baptist pastor, a preacher’s kid, no less, who began his ministry in Montgomery, Alabama. He was human, he had his failings and made his mistakes, but then, so did King David. So do we all.

God is stuck with us as his vessels. Anyone God chooses to do God’s will in this world is going to be flawed, make mistakes, be in danger of losing contact with God. Our egos can get in the way, life circumstances can distract us. So it is so important, if we truly desire to follow God, to pray, and to pray often. Scripture study is important, because it shows us the ways God can work. But reading about the past only shows us so much, because God’s is always breaking into the world in new ways. The way to look forward is through prayer. And to pray properly, you must stop and be still. To others, it might look like hesitation.

King said “well, ok, if you think I’ll do some good”. And within ten years later, schools across the nation were desegregated, the voting rights act was passed, and here we are, 50 years later, with significant and attractive African American candidates for president in both parties, an African American Secretary of State, the second one in a row. King wasn’t alone in his efforts, but he was a catalyst, and when we honor him, he is a proxy for all the people who have made the effort.

Rosa Parks’ first instinct was not to allow her arrest to be used to launch the Montgomery Bus Boycott. If she had followed through on her first instinct, the world might have been different. We might still be waiting.

King’s first instinct was to not step forward into leadership of the Montgomery Improvement Association. If he had followed through on his first instinct, the world would have been different.

Jesus waited until the time was proper. He did not perform his first miracle at his mom’s bidding, but when he was led to by God.

Significant decisions deserve a moment for thought, a deep breath, and prayer. They deserve the leading of God, and taking a moment to reassure ourselves that God is with us. The world can indeed be changed by taking that moment.

So to take that moment for ourselves isn’t wrong. There are many worse things that can be said of us than “they were called reluctantly, but they served enthusiastically.” Prayer is be the best thing we can to in serving God. Prayer will help us to indeed serve God enthusiastically.

1 comment:

  1. well i do agree that the only thing we can do to serve God is to make a Prayer to Him... He is the only true friend who is always with us...