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preaching as pastoral care

last sunday i preached on the classic text from the gospel of john, Jesus' first miracle. Jesus, his mother, and his disciples all attended a wedding at cana. when the wine ran out, mary mentioned it to Jesus. after some posturing, Jesus pointed out the six 30-gallon jars lying over there in the corner, instructing the servants to fill them with water. somehow the water became wine, wine that was so rich the chief steward said to the groom, slightly paraphrased from the version in your bible, "dude, you've got it backwards. serve the good stuff first, then the cheap stuff after everyone is hammered!"

i said Jesus could have offered to fill everyone's glass for one last toast to the happy couple, but he did not do that. he produced nearly 200 gallons of the best wine anyone could ever drink. i said this story is really a parable about grace. it shows us in a powerful way how God's grace works in our lives. God never gives us enough love to just get through the day-- God gives more grace than we could ever ask for or need. God's grace overflows into our lives, and the well, or in this case the 30-gallon jar, never empties.

while in washington the class was asked how our understanding of the bible has evolved over the years. i mentioned how it has become more central to my life. that as a pastor preaching is the most important thing i do, because it effects the most people at one time. of course this does not discount the other aspects of being a pastor, like visiting and leading a congregation. i was a little nervous about how the instructors would regard this statement, because it can be a source of heated debate, especially among folk who understand pastors to be chaplains, simply there to take care of our needs. but no, she said we need to think about preaching as pastoral care. since it is true that in the sermon we speak to the most people at once, the message can be a source of healing, inspiration, hope, challenge, etc. to a wide audience.

so it was last sunday at trinity. the water into wine story as a parable of grace was meant to be an offering as preaching as pastoral care. i used the sermon to give the church a feeling of confidence in this time of transition, and to say that even though our tenure here will be much shorter than we anticipated, they have impacted us in a profound way. when we came to trinity a couple of years ago, we were hurting. we left an appointment that was not very successful, and felt pretty lousy about everything. in other words, our jars were pretty empty. but the church loved us, listened to us, responded to us, and our jars filled up to the brim, just like at cana. grace overflowed from them to us. i said that is a gift the church can offer to not only a new pastor, but to the community, where the message of hope and grace can be a wonderful gift. much better than another round at some anonymous couple's wedding.


Brent Kern said…
So, can I assume that you will be bringing the wine on the 18th? It sounds like a party to me. :-)
Brent Kern said…
So, can I assume that you will be bringing the wine on the 18th. Sounds like a party to me!!! :-)
Darlene said…
Keep up the good work.

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