There’s New Wine in Me Yet

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.  – John 4:46

I love the story of the Wedding Feast at Cana.  It resonates with me on many levels.  it’s a beautiful exchange between mother and son, where Mary, the Blessed One, looks to the Chosen One, her son and Savior, to help the wedding hosts who have –quite embarrassingly–run out of wine.  So Jesus intervenes, turns water into wine and effectively saves the day.  This is Jesus’ first miraculous act in public ministry, and yet only John records it.  Why?

I’m not sure.  What I do know from experience is that weddings are private events.  They are celebrated with only those closest to us either by blood or by friendship.  It seems reasonable that since John is the “beloved disciple” –and the one to whom Jesus later charges with the care of his Mother at the time of his death– that more than the other disciples, he would have likely also been close to the friends or relatives of Jesus’ mother, (who many scripture scholars speculate this wedding couple to be), and therefore would have been one of the few, or perhaps the only disciple of Jesus, to have witnessed this miracle.

Regardless, I’m particularly grateful for it, because the above quoted line from scripture harkened back to that miracle for me today.  And in this mid-point of Lent, it reminded me that as I feel the weight of the Lenten season upon me now, Jesus is not done with me yet!  Like the turning of water into wine, a transformation has to occur.  And though we can read about the many public miracles of healing Jesus performs during his ministry, like the water into wine, the miraculous transformations he performs in each of us are private, deeply intimate, and personal to us.  They are transformations we need, in order to become the holy people God wants us to be.  And while the outcome is really nothing short of miraculous, the process for us is usually less of an instant “water into wine” transformational event, and more like grapes fermenting into wine through a slow and difficult process.

But the outcome– the “new life” that we become as a result of it– is still nothing short of miraculous.

I’m reminded today that just as Jesus returned to Cana in today’s reading, he is eager to return to you and I in this Lenten season and do more transformational work.  The question is, are we willing to let him?  Just as she did in Cana, we can certainly ask for our Blessed Mother to intercede on our behalf to help us!

Here’s a bonus link for you today that dovetails nicely, I think, with today’s message.   I’m grateful to have stumbled across this song last week and have been prayerfully singing it ever since:  New Wine by Hillsong

Reflect:  What are some ways you’ve seen yourself change in the past several months?  Are you more joyful, more positive?  Or are you growing discouraged, tired, and distraught?  Whether you answer yes to the first question or the latter, take a moment today to see one positive change in your life over the last few months and really thank God for it!  Give him total credit for making that happen in your life and then reflect a little on how, like the vessels at the wedding feast at Cana,  God may have chosen to use you to make that happen, or like John, he may have chosen you–and perhaps ONLY you–to witness it!

Pray:  Lord Jesus, thank you for always wanting to make me a better person!  While I sometimes find the process difficult, and I don’t always participate willingly into your plan, I trust you to lead me only to what is good for me.  I surrender my will to yours and ask you to create in me all you desire me to be, so that I can become more like you.  Amen.

 

 

Birth Stories

 

 

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

– Luke 2:19, NAB

Every once in a while, I gaze upon my children in wonder.

I wonder at the people they are becoming.  Their kind and gentle ways.  Their warm and giving hearts.  Their open and receptive minds.  His strong, quiet leadership. Her grace and beauty and laughter.  His creative mind while he works.

And I wonder where did you come from?  How did you get here?

But, of course, I know.

I was there for every bit of it.

I was there when the idea of them began forming in my mind even when I was only a very small girl, playing dolls, playing house.  Mimicking and practicing the role of mother, long before I knew how a girl even became one.

I was there dreaming and wishing as a young woman about my Mr. Right.  Scribbling his name and mine together over and over again.  Trying them on for size.  Spending every free moment  with each other, but never getting our fill.  Waiting and hoping and dreaming until finally two became one.

I was there as the thread of my old life was picked up and sown into the fabric of a new one.   In this new life together, strengths and weaknesses could be measured and balanced.  Neither had to bear all the weight of any burden alone, and joys and blessings were multiplied because not only one felt it, but two.

I was there when this love for our life together could not contain itself.  When he and I gave of ourselves so much to each other that our love grew, right within me, into a life all its own.

I was there when that love spilled out of me and gazed right back at us with its own two eyes, not once, not twice but three times.  Him and him and her.   Lives of love themselves, born into love, and creating love anew.

All of this I know as I gaze at my three children, each one of them a miracle of our life and love—my husband’s and mine.

I was there for every bit of it, and still I look at them and wonder where did you come from?

While my children are my most profound and miraculous birth stories, they are not, however, my only birth stories.

In my life I have also given birth to other ideas and dreams that have manifested themselves in other ways:  faith formation programs and presentations, this blog, handmade gifts and goodies for family and friends just to name a few.  Simpler, sure, but nonetheless ideas of love birthed into being.

Even if only to a few people.

Even if only for a short time.

Yesterday, as I sat in church I listened as our deacon reminded us that Mary is not “just” the mother of Jesus.  She is the Mother of God.  She is The God-Bearer, fully human.

And, like the old song, I wondered did she know?  I like to think she didn’t know–at least not fully–what the miracle of her child meant for the world.  I like to think she only had a hunch sometimes, or caught a glimpse here and there, limited, in her own humanness because it makes her more relatable.  I like to think she doesn’t mind my doing so.

And I wondered how else I might be like her.  How we all might be.  And I thought about all of these things as I’ve told you.

And I’ve ended up with this:  Mary allowed God to enter into her and create in her so that she could bear God into the world for all to know Him and see Him anew.

As we start a new year, may we all take some time to gaze back upon the miracles in our lives–big and small–that God has created in us over the past year or years.   Like Mary, may we “keep all these things, reflecting on them” in our hearts, staying open to the possibility that God is still working in us creating life anew—even long after our child-bearing years– so that we may continue to bring Him forth to others.

Reflect:  What do I consider the biggest miracles in my life?  How/when have I been the face or hands of God to others?  What is the one big miracle growing within me right now?  How might that miracle be made manifest to others?

Pray:  God, thank you for the miracles in my life.  Thank you for making me part of your divine plan.  Help me see and celebrate the ways you’ve created things through me.  Help me stay open to your plans for me.  Take me.  Enter me.  Create in me.  Bear yourself to others through me.  I am yours.

Expectant Waiting

 

 Mary kissing Baby Jesus

On this day forty –some years ago, at least two mothers I know sat in hopeful expectation of the birth of a child.  The first mother already had three little ones at home.  This, the delivery of her soon-to-be fourth child, carried a greater reason for concern.  There had previously been complications, and, if her doctor had had the final word, this child would not have been created at all.  The risk to both mother and child for a successful delivery was greater than he felt comfortable delivering.  Nevertheless, a child was soon coming into the world, and despite her doctor’s fears and concerns, the mother held out hope and confidence that this child would be delivered safely into the world.

The second mother had one child at home and was eagerly looking forward to the experience the delivery this second child promised.  For the delivery of her first child, her husband had been absent due to the growing conflict –many called it war—in Vietnam.  At that time, she’d had to wait six months before even introducing their first-born child to his father.  Now, the war had ended, her husband was home, and this baby would know the loving gaze of both its parents, right from the start.

In both instances, there was much to celebrate:  obstacles overcome, milestones reached, dreams realized and the simple reality of promise and hope soon to be held in their arms.  Both instances also had very real doubts about the possibility of it all working out.  What if something is wrong with the child?  What if the child or the mother doesn’t survive the delivery?  But these questions would only be answered by moving forward through the process, when the time was right.  Waiting and worrying were hardly productive. There was only room for hope and promise now.

Remarkably, (or perhaps not so remarkably, because most days we take it all granted) the first mother went on to have a healthy baby boy, and the second, a healthy baby girl.

Almost twenty years after their births, these stories merged where few would have guessed.  The boy and the girl grew up, met, and fell in love.  They went on to have three beautiful children and as normal a life together as anyone could hope for them.

This month at our house, we celebrate the birthdays of those two babies born so long ago.

The boy was my husband.

The girl was me.

As I reflect on these stories today, through the eyes of my mother-in-law and my mom, I am reminded of the expectant hope in all of us this Advent season. May we wait with the same quiet confidence and joyful hearts of soon-to-be mothers everywhere.

And may God continue to reveal himself to us all in ways we never imagined!

Happy birthday, Ted!

Love,

Lisa

Photo source:  Google search, artist unknown

Saying Yes to God

Later today I’ll be working on a few posts for the upcoming days, but as of this morning none of them are yet ready.

Lucky for me, my seven-year-old daughter had an inspiring reflection for me this weekend that she brought home from Sunday school.  It reminds me of all those times I need to let myself “fail” and “die” in my own personal plans and goals, and just relax and say “yes” to the situation in order to let God’s will be done.   It reminds me that saying “yes” to God’s will with my own spirit, makes others happy as well.

I hope you find it as inspirational as I did.

P.S.  I especially love the eyelashes.

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