Make some room

“The most sacred invitation that a person can extend to us is to invite us into their pain. But that means that we have to choose to knock on a door that we often prefer to pretend is not there.”

― Craig D. Lounsbrough

John 2:1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Dear Friends,

Real quick–I know that many of you are dealing with incredible challenges and that some of you are really struggling.

Just want you to know:

You are loved and you are not alone.
Please, if you are in need of connection, conversation, or just a listening ear–please reach out to someone. We are in this together.
…a word about a wine story?

Probably you’ve seen this story before. It’s one of Jesus’ “7 miracles” in the Gospel of John. This one is the first, and it’s pretty fun and dramatic. Jesus of Nazareth, having a grand old time at the wedding reception, discovers that there is about to be a wine shortage [OH NOOOOOOO] so he figures out a way to turn water into wine.

Well, that’s the short version.
There are a lot of things within this story to unpack, I’m just going to hone in on one thing:

In order to fill jars with wine, some of the original liquid [water] had to be poured out. To make room for the wine. Oh, and not just any wine–the best, finest wine.

Those water purification jars had to be emptied a bit to make room for the wine.

How about that for a human metaphor?
You and I are jars of clay, vessels, containers.
And in order to make room for the “good stuff” we will periodically need to empty out what’s already filling our vessels.

This is what Jesus of Nazareth offers us. Notice that it’s not an invitation to feel bad about the mistakes you’ve made or a judgmental statement about what you lack or how you fall short. No, this invitation is just to empty and make room. Empty yourself and make room. That’s all.

So how will make room for the good stuff to fill and restore you? There is great freedom in this, my friends. You don’t have to be what you were, you don’t have to define yourself by your past, and you get to welcome in something fresh that is meant to heal. 

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Josh grew up in Indiana and Iowa before completing a Masters of Divinity [M.Div.] at Princeton Theological Seminary [NJ]. He has worked in a variety of settings, including the Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ (UCC) in Philadelphia, Hawai’i, Mexico, and Michigan. Currently, he serves as pastor of Love in Action United Church of Christ, a progressive, Christian, LGBTQIA+ affirming and interfaith community in Hatboro, a suburb of Philadelphia. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre/Speech from Northwestern College (IA). Josh has worked with youth and young adult programs for 25 years regionally, nationally, and in Latin America. He is also a trained actor and performs regularly with the dinner theatre company, Without a Cue Productions, LLC. He has developed theatre arts curriculum for use in worship, youth groups, education, and group-building. Josh is also committed to promoting religious pluralism and partnering with people of all faiths and those who identify as atheist or agnostic to build bridges of shared values and cooperation. He is honored to work with the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia as a Fellow and a Consultant. Focus areas include: University alternative spring break and summer programs that incorporate faith encounters and service-learning for students; workplace diversity programs that promote understanding in organizations, corporations, schools, and hospital settings. Josh also enjoys playing basketball, strumming on the guitar, traveling, learning language, or making strange and funny faces. He lives in Center City Philadelphia and thinks vegan cheesesteaks are amazingly good.

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