Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Unspectacular, Mostly Hidden In-Breaking of God's Kingdom

For the past 2 months the community of Northshore Vineyard has been going slowly through the Gospel of John.  2 Weeks ago we looked into Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding feast.  One thing that struck me about this miracle was how the kingdom of God was how the kingdom of God showed up and the relatively small group of people who were even aware of the miracle.

In the story (John 2) Jesus and his disciples are at a wedding when Jesus' mom tells him that they have run out of wine.  So Jesus tells the servants to go fill up 6 ceremonial washing pots with water.  The servants do that and then Jesus tells them to take some of the water turned wine to the head of feast. They follow his directions and the head of the wedding party remarks about how amazing the wine is saying, "normally people at a party serve the good stuff first and then when folks have had plenty to drink they bring out the cheap stuff and yet they saved the best stuff for last."

In this story the bride and groom, the head of the feast, and the rest of the guests get to have really great wine but none of them realize the miracle that produced it.  In other words, the kingdom broke through in their midst and they didn't even know it.  The wedding party got to benefit from God's kingdom in their midst though most didn't even realize what God was even up to.  What's more is that the ones who were used to perform the miracle were the servants.  The servants weren't wedding guests or in any place of honor.  Like any wedding reception they would have simply been in the background serving people and cleaning up after the important guests.  Yet these are the very ones by which Jesus worked his miracle.  Jesus didn't lift a finger to fill the pots or touch the water.  He simply told them what to do and in doing so he performed a miracle through their obedience.  And when God's kingdom broke in it was these humblest of people at the party who got a front row seat.  Even Jesus' own disciples were more bystanders in this particular miracle.

In the past week I feel like I can truly identify with these servants at the wedding feast.  I have been witness to God showing up and meeting people's needs in so many amazing ways that have nothing to do with my resources, gifts, or talents.  I am feeling both humbled and awed by what I see God doing.  Like the wedding party I see the kingdom of God  breaking through and people benefiting from what God is doing though many don't even have a clue as to the miracles happening in their midst.

Jesus once said that the kingdom of God is like yeast in a lump of dough.  The dough is obviously rising and changing as a result of the kingdom but the process remains hidden and mysterious.  The more I look at the ministry of Jesus I realize that this is the case time and time again.  Even in the birth of Jesus we see that the ones who get in on the incarnation are not the rich, the powerful, or even those who were looking for Jesus but rather humble shepherds.  So often we expect for the breaking in of God's kingdom to be spectacular.  And though it some times does come spectacularly, I believe that God is often moving in much more hidden ways that we miss in our busyness.

I pray that you and me both would have eyes to see the in-breaking of the kingdom all around during this season of advent.  As the humble shepherds or servants at the wedding that we may be made aware of what God's presence in our conversations, our time with family, and the seemingly random encounters with those who cross our paths.

Audio related to this post:
Water Into Wine

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