Sunday Morning Coffee: The Friendship of Women

When you’ve always moved around a lot, you don’t have those “best friends since kindergarten” relationships. You make friends you really love, but then you move again, and sometimes absence and distance just don’t make the heart grow fonder.

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Then your life changes, you stay in one place longer, you settle into wonderful friendships that started at church, so your bond is joined with faith, and you begin to hope that you won’t move ever again. But you do. Time passes, some friendships remain, but the years pass.

Then you get a phone call, and you go back. You find the old friends are still your friends, and you make new ones. But things happen, and you have to leave the church you loved. Some friendships are destroyed because leaving a church is always hurtful.

But you find a new place. It’s a little harder. You’re older, your kids are all grown up. It takes longer to start making connections that blossom into friendships, but slowly it does happen.

And then, one morning in a Bible study, the women in the classroom begin to share with each other. Some of these women have known each other a long time, but have never talked quite so openly. There are tears, there is laughter, there is bonding and a realization that all of us have stories that we don’t share with many other people.

Through our stories, we may hurt; we may cry; we may feel as if the world will never come right again. But slowly, as we walk with the Lord, stay in His Word, pray, and learn forgiveness, things do heal. We do go on. We’ll always have scars, but they won’t always be raw and painful.

One of the things we learn is that God’s got it, anyway. We don’t need to solve everything. We just need to be obedient, and trust His love and grace. He will show us how we can be a blessing to someone else.

There is something very special about the fellowship of women; godly women who don’t gossip, who don’t judge, but who share in grace and patience and understanding.

I hope the next move will be to heaven. But even if it’s not, I have confidence that these friendships will always have a special place in my heart–along with many others along the backtrail of my life. Rich in friends, rich in God’s love. Rich in my family. It’s all good.

His Disciples Believed on Him

John 2:11-12.

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him.

 After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days.

Just a couple of points of interest in these two verses. Jesus did this first miracle, showing the glory of God, and His disciples believed on Him.

Is this an indication that there may have been some doubt before they saw Him do the miracle? I don’t really think so.

I was in a Bible study yesterday in which I asked the women with me to share some event in their lives that was difficult, but that strengthened their faith. They all offered some deeply personal things that had caused some of them to ask the quintessential “Why ME?” question, and to doubt their own worthiness. But for all of them, the result was a deeper, stronger, and more-often spoken trust in God as they saw His purpose and His working in their lives.

I think that’s what happened with the disciples. They already believed, or they wouldn’t have followed Him. The witnessing of His first miracle deepened their faith, which was already strong enough that they had left all else to follow Him. This was not a new belief, but a strengthened belief.

Then, Jesus went to Capernaum. His mother and brothers went with Him, and His disciples. We don’t hear much about Mary or His family going with Him on His journeys throughout Israel, but at this point, they were with Him. I wonder what they were thinking. Mary, I’m sure, was amazed at what He had done even though she knew He was the Son of God. His brothers, though, thought He had gone a little crazy (Mark 3:21). Was their faith in Him beginning to take seed and grow? They were still with Him, after all.

Have you ever wondered what it was like to grow up in a household in which the eldest brother was perfect? Sinless? Never, ever at fault for anything? Would you think that was wonderful, or would it work on your last nerve? I don’t know. I do believe, though, that they loved Him, and that’s why they were with Him at this early part of His public ministry.

Thou Hast Kept the Good Wine

John 2:9-10.

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

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Following Jesus’ command, the servants took a sample of the wine to the governor of the feast. I’m imagining, now, that the governor hesitantly took a moment to smell the wine, doubting it would be worth serving. But the aroma caught his attention. He sipped enough to allow the wine to sit on his tongue for a moment, enjoying the wonderful richness and depth. He swallowed, thanked the servants, and took his sample to the bridegroom.

I love the little parenthetical comment that the governor didn’t know the source of the wine, but the servants did. They don’t seem to have revealed the source; at least, if they did, it is not recorded.

In any case, the governor was impressed. He paid the groom a high compliment.

It was customary to present the best wine first, and after the guest had drunk enough to lose their sense of quality, the cheaper wine was brought out.

The governor was impressed that the groom had done just the opposite. Cheap wine first, then the very best wine. Doing so spoke to the groom’s, and his parents,’ generosity and class.

Again, in my imagination, I’m watching and listening to the servants as they return to the waterpots to carry the wine to the banquet hall. Did they talk, or were they silent in amazement? Were their hearts stirred in the presence of a Man who could turn water into wine? Did they tell others what they had seen?

What would you have done?

Six Stone Waterpots

John 2:6-8.

And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

 And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

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The typical Jewish household had water pots that were set aside for purposes of ritual cleansing. The ones in this incident had a capacity of 20-30 gallons apiece.

I think it is interesting that Jesus used the most practical of means to accomplish this miracle. The water pots were there. I suppose He could have simply waved his hand over whatever had held the wine before, and had apparently not been sufficient. But He used what was at hand, and did so without any fanfare. No bells and whistles. Just get the job done.

So He instructed the servants to fill the pots with water, up to the brim. I don’t know where they got all that water. Perhaps the household had a well, or a cistern. In any case, it didn’t seem to be a problem for them to find that much water.

It is also notable that He involved the servants in this miracle. They must have wondered what He had in mind, but they obeyed Him, apparently without question. They filled the water pots to the brim. They didn’t show doubt or disrespect by filling them only partially. They went the whole distance.

I believe that not only the host of this celebration was blessed that day; so were his servants, who had simply followed the commands of Jesus and thereby became a part of the blessing.

He could have filled the pots with wine Himself. He could have done so without any human assistance. That isn’t how He worked, though. Not then, and not today. He has chosen to use us in His work, thereby sharing the blessing with the workers as well as those who benefit from the work. Never turn away from an opportunity to do something for Him. You will lose the blessing if you do.

The governor, or master of the feast, was an important figure. He was sometimes appointed from among the prominent guests, or was a relative or close friend of the host. It was his job to supervise all the arrangements; to make sure everyone was well-served, and to taste the wine before it was offered to the guests.

Jesus told the servants to dip into the water pots and take it to the governor of the feast. I wonder what those servants were thinking. They knew they had put water in those pots. But, remarkably, they obeyed Him, just as Mary had told them. They took some kind of vessel filled from the contents of one of the pots and offered it to the governor of the feast.

"Woman"

John 2:4-5. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.

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I have heard this verse taught as Jesus was “putting His mother in her place.” That He was rebuking her, being just a tad disrespectful, because she was demanding that He do something before He was ready.

That has never felt quite right to me. First, we have no indication that she was being a bossy mamma. She simply informed Him of a problem she knew He could solve.

I believe we are mislead by the use of the word Woman, which in our parlance is not the way a son would, or should, address his mother. Here is what Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words has to say:

In the vocative (a vocative expression is an expression of direct address by which the identity of the party spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence), used in addressing a “woman,” it is a term not of reproof or severity, but of endearment or respect, Mat 15:28Jhn 2:4, where the Lord’s words to His mother at the wedding in Cana, are neither rebuff nor rebuke. 

The reason I’ve always been uncomfortable with the teaching I’ve heard so often on this verse is that it would be completely out of character for Jesus to disrespect His mother. She had not commanded Him to do anything. She simply informed Him that their host was out of wine.

But doesn’t the rest of His comment seem like a rebuke? “What have I to do with thee?” Again, in our usage in English today, this seems like Jesus is telling her not to bother Him, and that He was not ready for the main event yet.

A closer look at the Greek shows us that He did not call her “mother,” but used a term of respect that He may have used in addressing any woman. His question indicated not a reproof, but a change in relationship. Where she had been, for many years, an authority in His life, He is now making it clear that He holds her in high esteem but that He is no longer a child in her home. At no time does He scold, rebuke, or give her a put-down. Again, it would have been completely out of character for Him to treat her poorly.

To me, proof of her understanding, respect for Him, and acceptance of His authority, are all clear in her next words to the servants: “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.”

Had the servants gone to Mary to ask her to get help from Jesus? I don’t know. I do find it interesting that even though she was a guest at the wedding, the servants obeyed her and followed Jesus’ directions. Apparently she was a woman held in high esteem in the community, but her Son was held higher.

Mary never expected, intended, or wanted to be worshiped. She knew she was a sinner in need of a Savior, just like all the rest of us (Luke 1:47). Her elevation by mankind is not based on scripture, but on the many religions that made “The Mother” superior to the Son.

I have a lot of respect for Mary, a woman who had the joyous, and sorrowful, experience of being the vessel for the advent of Jesus Christ. She watched Him grow, watched Him through His ministry and torture, and never stepped away to avoid the pain. But I do not worship her, nor pray to her. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).

Sunday Morning Coffee: Another Ramble

We’re having what we call a “wintry mix” of weather here in my corner of PA. That means scary, icy roads. We were notified last night that Sunday school was canceled this morning, but church would meet as usual unless we were notified otherwise. Apparently the salt trucks were out and the roads are safe. I hope. Terry took off around 9:30.

Philly weather travel thanksgiving 2019
Makes dangerous driving!

I, however, have had a couple of really lousy nights, and I’m worn out from not sleeping. I just didn’t have the energy to get showered, dressed, and fixed up for the public. I’m still in my jammies. Maybe I’ll stay that way all day. No law against it, right>

We had a lovely, quiet Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoyed yours, however that looks for you. I was pleased to actually be able to prepare the meal this year. My daughter brought dessert, and my son-in-law brought a couple of sides that have become a tradition. We relaxed. No stress, no fuss. And turkey soup in our future. One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers 🙂

November was a challenging month for me. I made the decision, finally, to take on the challenge of National November Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve thought about it for maybe three or four years, but never felt I’d have the time to participate. This year, I took a deep breath and decided to go for it. The challenge is to write 50,000 words from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30.

I DID IT!! Yay, ME 🙂 That means I have probably a little over half of my book written. And, having come that far, I will continue until it’s finished. Then, of course, I have the huge job of trying to find someone to read it and decide it may be worth publishing. This could be a very long process, by the time I do whatever rewrites are necessary and find that willing publisher. Still, I’m actually doing what I’ve thought about and talked about for a very long time. It feels really good.

My Germany family will be here for nearly a week before Christmas, when they’ll fly to Ohio to be with her family for the holiday. It will be so good to have them here. Twice in one year–that doesn’t happen often.

Last summer seems like a very long time ago. But then, not really. We spent a couple of weeks in England celebrating our 50th anniversary, with our three sons and their families. So many cherished memories. And now we’ll get to see the oldest, Mike, along with his wife and son Connell. So–twice in one year.

I was going through my email a little while ago, and came across a poet/writer I’m following. He commented on being 51 today, “sliding” into the old age of life. Made me smile. I have over 20 years on him, and while I know I’ve already lived longer than I WILL live, I’m not bowing to old age. I still have some goals, and I hope to live long enough to accomplish them, and enjoy knowing that I did so.

I started a new book of the Bible here on this blog a couple of weeks ago. The Gospel of John has been on my mind for some time, and I finally decided to do it. What a blessing! I’m just getting into the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His first public miracle. I’m inviting you to join me on the journey,

And that’s about it for today. Have a blessed Sunday!

No Wine

John 2:3. “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine.”

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Failure to have enough wine was a social disgrace for the families of the bride and groom. The people at this wedding all knew each other, and were involved in each other’s lives. This social faux pas would never be forgotten, and the story of their running out of wine at their wedding would follow them for the rest of their lives.

Also, for the Jews, wine was a symbol of joy. To run out would be like acknowledging that neither the guests nor the bridal couple were especially happy with their wedding. There was a lot of social reputation at stake here, and Mary’s heart was to find a way to help.

Why did Mary ask Jesus to do something about this situation?

There are a couple of possibilities. One, she knew He could if He so chose.

Two, she was looking forward to His public demonstration of Who He was, partly for her own vindication. The stories of her pregnancy prior to her marriage to Joseph still followed her, for the same reason that running out of wine at their wedding would follow the bride and groom. It was a closely-knit community, and all news was interesting.

When Jesus did finally prove His power, as Mary hoped He would, she thought it would prove her claim that she had never known a man, in the biblical sense; that Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit of God, and was God in the flesh.

Apparently the stories didn’t affect her social acceptance in their community. She was not an outcast, and she and Joseph went on to have children of their own. Still, there were those who liked to cast doubt on her story and on the paternity of Jesus.

In her mind, this would be a perfect opportunity for Jesus to prove Who He was.