Monday, September 6, 2010

Thought for a Monday

I'm sitting on my couch after 10 days of vacation - 10 days of relaxation and fun. After five days at Virginia Beach, we were chased away by Hurricane Earl, but those five days were spent enjoying the best beach weather I've ever seen. We came home early, but the vacation fun didn't end. We spent one day traveling to a beautiful park and going on an awesome trail run. We spent another day at the local skatepark. And yet another day at another beautiful park taking the dog for a hike and then Bree & I relaxed while Marc went for a mountain bike ride.

Life is supposed to be fun. And Marc and I try our best to make the most out of life and have fun at every opportunity. This year's vacation and all the awesome stuff we managed to do in the last 10 days bring to mind the sermon my brother gave at our wedding. Here is what he said:

"You do realize what you've done? There was a time, not so long ago, that I was weird one in this family. Unicycles, flower dogs, skateboards? You're providing me quite a challenge when my own wedding day rolls around. Somehow, I'm going to have to top all this.

"Of course, this stuff is part of what makes today so special. You two have taken an already special occasion and made it truly your own. I think I said this a few

times when we were putting all this together, but I am so immensely proud of both of you. Not just as a brother smiling upon his kid sister taking this huge and wondrous step in life, or as a man about to receive a wonderful man as a brother, but also as a pastor.

"You see, we pastors get up in pulpits and in front of congregations every Sunday and we
preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ every Sunday and the next week we do it again and so forth. Yet despite that, only occasionally does anything seem to change in the people we preach to.

"But I know today I am preaching to at least two people (and hopefully more) who do get it.
Marc, Missa, you understand. The proof is here in front of us. It's in the skateboards, the unicycles, the mutt dogs, the high top sneakers, and in the spirit of this day.

"Alright, has Allen really gone bonkers? It doesn't talk about skateboards and fun hogs in the
Bible, so what on earth is he getting at? No, it doesn't mention these modern things, but what it does talk about, quite frequently, is life.

"You see what you have done in crafting together this wedding celebration is create a celebration of life in all its aspects. Jesus, I think, would approve. After all, this is the man who once told his
followers that his purpose in coming was that we would 'have life and have it abundantly.'

"You see the problem we've had with those words of Jesus is that we've always presumed Jesus was talking about some heavenly here-after and that our abundant life would begin when we get there. And everything we do up until then is just dull and boring drudgery. No fun. Got to be serious all the time. Heaven forbid we actually enjoy ourselves. God forbid we have fun.

"NO! That's not what he meant at all. He meant for us to look upon our lives and see the gift therein. He wants us to enjoy our lives here and now. He wants us to ride skateboards, or play
video games, or go fishing, or whatever your hobbies and interests may be. He wants us to
have fun here and now in this life.

"Don't believe me? Well, there is a story from Jesus life that shows this truth quite clearly. And it takes place, interestingly enough, at a wedding in the town of Cana. Jesus and his disciples have been invited to a wedding and they're all there having a good time and enjoying themselves. But suddenly, there's a problem. They've run out of wine.

"Now to remedy this problem, Jesus commands the house servants to fill the home's jars of purification with water. And poof, Jesus does his miracle thing and the water in those jars becomes wine.

"Now how is this a sign that Jesus wants us to have fun in life? Well, let me tell you. First off, let's remember they're at a wedding. They're celebrating. They're having fun. It's a party.

"Secondly, we need to remember that Jesus NEVER uses his miraculous powers for frivolous reasons. He heals the sick. He casts out demons. He calms the storm to protect his disciples. He feeds the multitudes. All big important stuff. Yet when itis suggested that he calm his grumbling stomach in the desert by turning stones to bread, he refuses. Too frivolous a use of his divine power. He won't do it.

"And yet, here he turns water into wine. Why? Well, wine is the drink of celebration, in their culture as well as ours. It's the party drink. When you run out, the party's over. When there's more wine to be had, the party can continue.

"Now bearing that in mind, let's remember how much wine Jesus has just created. These jars stand about yay tall and are about this big around and as the Bible tells us, they hold about 30
gallons. There are six of them that the servants fill. Do the math. Six times thirty is 180 gallons of wine.

"Now presuming two things, one that the wedding guests are indeed human and not some manner of space alien immune to the intoxicating effects of alcohol, and two that these good people will not overindulge and drink themselves into quick oblivion, how long will this party last? Long time. They will celebrate days upon days upon days. The party will go on.

"'I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.'

"Marc and Missa understand that teaching, and now on this day, they are joining their lives together. They are giving that gift of life to one another. If past experience, and this day itself,
is any indication, their life together will be one heck of a party. And you know something, we're
partying along with you, your friends, your family. we're here for you in the joys and also the

"And so too is Jesus. He'll cry with you. He'll laugh with you. He'll, dare I say it, party with you. In fact, he's probably sitting back there, unseen by our eyes, telling me to wrap this up. 'Come
on, Allen, we're missing good celebratin' time.'


So there you have it. Life is supposed to be fun. So get out, have fun, and live your life to fullest.

(Sermon given by the Rev. Allen Schwarz, (pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church, Davis, WV), at the wedding of Marc & Melissa Fuentes, April 29, 2006)

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