This is a summary of Dean Davey’s message to students for our inaugural chapel of the 2017/2018 school year. Dean Davey, Ph.D (cand) is Vice President of Student Development at PLBC.
This year’s theme, “In everything we do . . .” from Colossians 3.17, invites us to be captivated by this reality that everything we do surges with glory and meaning, everything we do is an act of worship and opportunity for awareness of God’s presence. If only we would, as Jesus said, “have eyes to see.”
The masterful Victorian poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning echoes this, writing:
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
Browning captures this essence that everything is infused with the life of God–at least for eyes that see.
Jesus, the life of God, steps onto the scene of our common reality. In John’s Gospel we encounter Jesus, invited to a wedding, where he performs his first of seven miracles. The story unfolds to a crisis: There’s no more wine! Far more serious than simply, “The bar is closed for the night,” this could call off the marriage before it starts.
Jesus comes to the aid of this young couple, using the common, mundane element of water: Jesus miraculously turns the water into wine–full-bodied, aromatic, decadent wine. We celebrate that, and we long for those moments when God steps onto the scene of our common, mundane, everyday lives and performs something grand.
God is still into such miracles; He’s still in the process of turning water into wine. Sometimes those miracles happen in the moment, spontaneously, and water is turned to wine! And we say, Wow! Hallelujah! Fantastic!
But often God performs another miracle. Moisture rises to form clouds in the sky and the resulting rain falls upon the ground. Water seeps into the soil and the life it brings is sucked into the roots of the vine that nourishes the grapes. The grapes are picked, squeezed, and fermented over time and a miracle occurs: water has turned to wine.
This is a miracle as profound as what Jesus did at the wedding. The problem is, we become so accustomed to it happening year after year, we no longer see it for what it is. And how often in life God is at work, year after year, but we just don’t see it for what it is. Jesus would say His message of Life is for those who have eyes to see.
Often we want God to step in with a flash (and those times are great), but I find that God often works more subtly and gradually over time.
I invite you this year to walk with your eyes wide open to those very possible moments when the Divine steps into the ordinary scenes of your life and anticipate a grand miracle. But I also invite you to walk with your eyes wide open to the very subtle miracles and the ever-present presence and work of God all around you. We may just discover a God who is slowly transforming us from water into wine. Amen.