Mission and Encouragement, John 2:1-11, January 16th 2022

Mission and Encouragement, John 2:1-11, January 16th 2022

Sunday 16th January 2022. Second Sunday of Epiphany.

Main passage John 2:1-11; also 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

Revd Rik Florentinus (Assistant Chaplain, Amsterdam).

We have only a text for Rik’s sermon, no audio file.

This morning I want to talk to you about Mission: your mission. How would you complete this sentence: my mission in life is…? Have you ever given it much thought?

But what exactly is the meaning of “mission”? In church we talk about missions and missionaries as those called by God to leave home and bring the Gospel to people somewhere else who haven’t heard about Jesus Christ. A lot of us have respect for such people, maybe pray for them or support them financially, but you probably don’t see this mission as your mission.

The word mission sounds maybe too ecclesiastical, but doesn’t it mean first of all that we want to go for something, that there is a dream, a vision that keeps us going? what is our dream for our world and are we willing to put our shoulders to it

With this in mind, let me ask again: what is your mission in life? What is your dream, your vision; Gods vision? What objective in life do you attach special importance? Does God give missions just to special people, or to ordinary folks?

That’s what I want to speak with you about this morning: God mission for your life.

I want to approach the question by looking at a good example from the Bible about a specific mission God called a young girl named Mary to carry out, she is still fresh in our mind after Christmas and after the gospel reading of today. Her mission is not your mission, but by looking at her call from God—what I want to call the Mary Mission–I believe you and I can get help for discovering and carrying out our mission.

What if God had asked us to choose the woman for the all-important mission of being the mother of His Son? Talk about the Miss Universe contest!

Well, we’d first have to be sure she was somebody special, with good looks, and a good head on her shoulders. We’d certainly want to do a background check to find out if she is the right sort of person for such an important assignment. She’d be a mature adult, of course.

But God has a very different standard for His choice.

1 Co 1:27-28  you can read:   27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28and the base [lowly] things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,

In other words, God chooses ordinary people for His important missions—people like Mary, people like you and me.

Why did God choose Mary for this mission? I’m not sure the Bible ever fully answers that question. What we do know is that He didn’t choose her because of where she was born, or because of her age, or because she somehow passed the “mother of God” exam. She was just an ordinary young girl from the wrong side of the tracks who never expected such an honor to come to her. Remember what Nathanael said in John 1: ‘Nazareth, can anything good from there?’ (John 1:46). That was Mary’s home town.

God’s choice of Mary teaches us a very important fact about how God chooses people for His mission in their lives: Your mission doesn’t depend on where you come from, or how old or young you are, or what you’re going through right now. In fact, Mary teaches us that God chooses ordinary people for His most important missions.

That makes you qualified, doesn’t it? You thought maybe you had to be older for God to have a mission for your life, but God says no—I have a mission for teenagers, children, as well as for older adults and senior citizens.

No matter which side of town you’re from, God has a mission for you. Mary’s mission is not your mission, but her mission does remind us that God has an extraordinary mission for ordinary people just like you and I.

Do you believe it? Can you wrap your mind around the idea that God is calling you—not the person next to you, but you? God has an important mission for your life.

But how do you discover His mission? The really good news of that question you can read in Luke 1vs. 29-37: God wants to reveal your mission to you.

You can be sure God wants to reveal His mission for your life to you. He probably won’t send Gabriel or some other angel, but He will communicate His mission for your life, if you will seek Him in His Word, in prayer, and in the input of other godly friends.

You also need to know that God usually outlines His mission, but does not always go into the specifics. Most often it is wise to get answers to those questions before you pursue what you think is God’s mission for you.

When you’re not sure, it’s OK to ask questions, as Mary did.

Even though Mary is young, she’s not naïve. When the angel came and told her she would be pregnant, She knows women don’t just have babies without a Father being involved. So she asks for some clarification, which Gabriel is glad to give her. He doesn’t offer specific details about exactly how the virgin birth occurs, but he does explain this blessed event is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit, and this miracle Baby’s Father is God Himself. The Mary mission is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The announcement Mary got may have been a little overwhelming for her. Here she is making plans for her wedding, and an angel pops up to announce God has another mission for her life. Does it cross her mind how hard this will be? How will she explain this to her family, to Joseph and his family? you can hear the gossip flying through Nazareth now. What if Joseph won’t marry her? What if nobody believes her? What if they stone her for adultery?

From where we sit, we know about problems Mary hasn’t even thought about yet—a trip to Bethlehem in the last days of her pregnancy, an inn so full she has to give birth in a stable, a wicked king who will try to kill her son, a last minute flight to Egypt, setting up house in a foreign land. Mary, if count the cost, are you sure this mission will be worth it? What would have happen if she says no? What if she answers Gabriel the way Moses answered the Burning Bush—here am I Lord, send somebody else!

But she doesn’t say no. She says yes to God’s mission for her life.

What would be your response?

And don’t worry, God is not asking you to become pregnant of his son.

As we read today in the first epistle of Corinthians chapter 12:

5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Or with words from Pope Benedict XVI who said :‘My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an “extra” or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. All around us we begin to see nurses with soul, teachers with soul, politicians with soul, people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others. But once we separate our work from our private lives, everything turns grey and we will always be seeking recognition or asserting our needs. We stop being a people.’

“closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God”, and that love is, in the end, the only light which “can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working”.

When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God. If we want to advance in the spiritual life, then, we must constantly be missionaries.

We cannot accomplish God’s mission without the power of the Holy Spirit. God can do the impossible, but you cannot do the impossible without Him. Whatever He calls you to do He will enable you to do, even if it looks impossible.

God’s mission is so often impossible according to our own earthly thinking, in our world of individualism, lust of power and wealth.

The devil, according to legend, once advertised his tools for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers assembled, there was one oddly shaped tool, which was labeled “Not for sale.” Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, “I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I have. It is called Discouragement, and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a man’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire.”

If there is one thing that is constant it is that we all are subject to discouragement. There is no shortage of discouragements to hinder the work of God. The Bible is full of men of God who at times became discouraged. And you and I get discouraged from time to time.

You know discouragement is is a bit like Covid: it is universal. None of us are immune to discouragement.  Being discouraged at one time or another Can happen to everyone

It’s recurring. Being discouraged once does not give you an immunity to the disease. You can be discouraged over and over again. In fact, you can even be discouraged by the fact that you are discouraged a lot.

It’s highly contagious. Discouragement spreads by even casual contact. People can become disheartened because you are discouraged. You can be bummed out because other people are discouraged.

Discouragement happens when you have no answer to why God allows certain things to happen in your life.

But discouragement is a curable disease. This is good news ­ you don’t have to live with a chronic condition anymore! Let’s look briefly at 4 cures for discouragement.

The first cure is to request God’s help. In the jungles of Africa, a man was being pursued by a roaring, hungry lion. Feeling the beast’s hot breath on his neck, and knowing his time was short, he broke out into prayer as he ran like crazy, “O, Lord, please make this lion a Christian. Please make him a Christian!” Within seconds, the frightened man noticed that the lion had stopped chasing him. When he looked behind him, he found the lion kneeling and moving his lips in obvious prayer. Greatly relieved at this turn of events, he got close enough to the lion to hear him pray, “And bless, Oh Lord, this food which I am about to receive.”

Wordle used with permission, from Father S. Cutmore, https://www.rectorymusings.co.uk/2010/01/word-as-wordle.html
  • At the wedding in Cana there was the discouragement of the empty wine and Mary went to Jesus and told him about the problem

2. The second cure is to reorganize your priorities When we’re discouraged, one of the things we can do is to reorganize our priorities. You can look at your life. You can adopt a change in approach instead of becoming so discouraged that you quit. Do you have a problem in your marriage? If so, don’t bail on your spouse! Change your approach. Adopt a new attitude. Get some help. Do you have a problem in your job? Don’t give up! Change your priorities. Do you have a problem in your walk with God? Don’t stop following Jesus! Reorganize your schedule so you can meet with Him on a regular basis. Plug into a small group. Don’t be overcome by discouragement. Do something about it!

  • Mary  said to the servants;” do what ever he tells you”

3. If you want to defeat discouragement, the third thing you can do is to remember who God is.

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to forget God when things are tough. I need to be reminded that He is always there for me. How do you remember the Lord? By remembering that He will always be there for you. We’re to remember that He is great and awesome. God is more than able to deal with your discouragement

  • “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

4. We need each other.

Bible is very clear about the fact that God’s people need each other. Back in the Old Testament in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 God declared: “Two are better than one… If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The gospel starts with noting that Jesus’ mother was there, and that Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding and it ends with in verse

12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples.

Today Melchior starts his path of mission by his baptism, lets walk with him and each other until Jesus comes.