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November 30, 2020

‘Missing’

Memo from Rev. Mathews-Johnson

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I don’t know about you, but there’ve been times in my life when I thought something was missing. You know what I mean. Like when you’re young and single and things are going along fine, except you long for something else, you can’t quite define it and you’re not sure how to get it. You think about it, and you pray about it, too. But you realize when you find it, that it’s love. 

And you marry him just like that, and never look back. 

Or how about the situation where you study for years and years to achieve a career or your place in life, and you do all sorts of training and schoolwork to get there, and you can do it well. Or maybe you never had a career, it was too hard, maybe even unattainable in those days, and you have your regrets. And there’s this inkling at the back of your mind, somewhere out on the edge of your consciousness, almost like a dream you’ve forgotten, that something is missing. 

Everything seems scary and unknown, and you don’t know at first how to get to where you should be—it seems impossible!—but you know deep inside there’s something better, something you’re meant to be. 

So, one day you’re surprised to discover there’s a new path for you to follow, a calling. The old job was fine, but you’re convinced that this is where you’re supposed to be. Or maybe for you it’s the same old job, but you see it in a new way. Or maybe you’re a parent for the first time, and this kid is looking up at you, depending on you for everything, and you think, “O Lordy!”

Or maybe it’s simply time for a new start. 

Every one of us at one time or the other has dreamed of what might be in our lives. We’re afraid to change, but there are times when we know we need to, change that is. We hope for a better life, a safer world without Covid-19, a more secure and caring home, a more challenging career, a healthier lifestyle, a fulfilling life, a better friend, a more meaningful church, a more loving spouse, better behaved kids, or simply a more exciting day-to-day existence. 

Maybe we dream that a handsome knight (or princess) will come riding in on a white horse to swoop us up in their arms, or that our boat will finally come to dock.

Dream on! No wonder folks spend millions to play the lottery or self-medicate with too many drugs or abuse alcohol or develop eating disorders or any and all of the horrible and crazy things we do to ourselves and each other. We think that if only we had—you fill in the blank—the rest of our life would fall into place. But it doesn’t usually happen that way. Not even close.   

How to get where God would have us go, seems a mystery. 

It reminds me of the elderly woman who was celebrating her one-hundredth birthday. She sat rocking on her front porch with her glasses perched on her nose. “Grandma,” said one of her great great grandchildren, “You must have seen a lot in the last hundred years.”  “Not much,” snapped the old woman. “Everything was always over by the time I could find these darn glasses.”

Ever felt that way? I know I have!

And maybe that’s why Jesus’ mother was bugging him about turning water into wine on the third day of that big wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. It was Jesus’ first public appearance after his baptism, and it was an extravagant kind of wedding, which in those days of difficult travel meant that the partying was supposed to last at least a week or more. But the party was about to poop out because they’d run out of wine. If the wine stopped, the party had to stop, too. 

But hold on. With Jesus you never know what’s going to happen.

He instructed the servants to fill up six large, stoneware pots that each held twenty to thirty gallons of water, which were used by the Jewish people for their ritual cleaning. “Now fill your pitchers,” Jesus said, “and take them to the host.” And the host tasted it, and declared it the best.  The water had become wine. What a miracle! And the best was saved for last.  

It was an extravagant, outrageous amount of wine for any wedding. But that’s the kind of thing that Jesus does. Extravagant. Outrageous. Miraculous. Just like God. And as the Gospel of John explains, at this the disciples believed! 

But sometimes, believers like us don’t act like we know it. There are times when we simply fall in line with the world and do what everyone expects us to do. Yet, God’s glory and greatness can never be reduced to the ordinary. And that means that we, God’s people, should never be about stale religious customs or knee-jerk patterns of behavior. 

Is something missing in your life? Drop by Cana and pour your “missing” existence into one of those great stone jars. Jesus is making miracles! Thank God, we’re here to see it happen.

Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson has been the pastor of Watsonville First United Methodist Church since the last century. Weekly Online Gatherings are linked to their website: watsonville1stumc.org. Contact her at 724-4434, or [email protected] 

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