The St. John’s Pulpit
St. John’s Baptist Church 300 Hawthorne Lane Charlotte, NC 28204
SIGNS OF CHANGE
Isaiah 62;1-5 and John 2:1-12
Second Sunday after Epiphany, January 20, 2019
by Senior Minister, Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD
As you know, you are living in a time of rapid change.
- 80% of all technological advances have occurred in the past century.
- More informational resources were produced in the past 30 years than in the previous 5,000 years combined.
- The amount of information available to people in the world is now doubling every five years and is being accessed by more people than ever.
- 90% of all scientists who have ever lived are alive now.
- By the time the preschoolers of this church are 50 years of age, 97% of the knowledge that can be known will have been learned since their birth.
In the midst of this rapidly changing post-modern world, why did we read ancient words written to the people of Jerusalem exiled throughout the Babylonian Empire?
What do those words have to do with you?
We read the story of Jesus turning water into wine.
How does that story have any meaning for you twenty centuries later?
Can these stories offer eternal Truth for your faith helping you deal with change?
Those ancient Hebrews desired to know God was working on their behalf.
They were like you; their changing realities contradicted their spiritual visions.
Some signs of change show up as words of hope that eventually become reality.
Isaiah spoke clear hope of good news to the exiled people. He pointed to signs of change saying, “You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called ‘My Delight is in Her…” The image of a wedding was used with God as the groom and Jerusalem as the bride. Soon after Isaiah’s prophecy, the people of Jerusalem returned to their home.
It happened more than a decade ago, we met for coffee. Her words were honest. Through the past three years, she had been through several changes and setbacks: a miscarriage and the tragic death of her husband was followed by a relationship betrayal and the death of her grandmother to whom she was very close. She looked across the table as she stirred her coffee and said, “I don’t believe God has forsaken me; but it sure would be nice to have some sign that God is working some things out for me in the future.” All I could do was do what Isaiah had done. I used words to assure her that God is always working things together for the good of those who love God and are committed to the mission of God. Within a year after that conversation, she met a person to whom she could commit her love and trust. A few years later, I heard they had welcomed their first child.
There are times, as you seek to be a sign of the changes God is bringing into our world, that you are like Isaiah; all you have to offer is a word. Yet, your word of support, hope and encouragement may be what is needed to help someone or some group see a sign of God’s change on the horizon.
And, some signs of change show up as actions that produce a new reality.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ miracles are called, ‘signs.’ These are signs of the change that is brought into our world by God’s manifestation of God’s Self in Jesus. John is the only Gospel to tell of Jesus’ turning water into wine. In Jesus, God transforms hopeless situations into joyful celebrations.
When you take actions like sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, resourcing the poor, volunteering as part of Room in the Inn, making sandwiches, offering job training to the unemployed, etc. you are a sign of change in God’s mission.
In our world, change happens. Some changes send you into exile or present what appears to be a hopeless situation. Yet, the Living God who spoke hope to ancient people and who, in Jesus, brings joyful celebration is still working on your behalf.
While you cannot stop change, you can try to deny it. But it’s like trying to sweep water uphill. You can learn to cope with change and adapt to change. But, if that is all you do, then you are never an agent of change.
In Jesus Christ, you are also a creator of change. Knowing God is the God of resurrection power; knowing God is always working to move people past exile and transforming hopeless situations into joyful celebrations allows you to work with God in creative change. As you partner with God, you lose your shyness and find your tongue and tell the world what God has done.
Allow your mind to think back to a time when you were living in exile or in crisis.
Maybe it was a challenging situation that or a season that seemed hopeless.
Now, think of the ways signs of change appeared.
Think of the people God sent into your life to help you through that time. Remember glimpses of grace that helped you see God transforming your situation.
Now, think of someone who is living in exile today.
You can be a creator of change in their world.
You be a sign of change that shows them God is at work on their behalf.
Amen and AMEN! May it be so!