God loves a party!
God wants us to enjoy life!
In the story of the Prodigal Son, the father wastes no time in throwing a party for his returning son.
Throughout the Gospels we find Jesus as a guest at a feast. More often than not with ‘sinners and tax-collectors’.
The Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes were horrified. This was no way to behave!
The first ‘sign’ recorded by John, is at a wedding in Cana.
The wine runs out, the host is facing a public shaming. Jesus turns six jars of water into wine. Not any wine, but the best wine.
And there’s a lot of it, around 700 bottles worth!
Jesus said, ‘I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full’.
We can be like the Pharisees and Sadducees, trying to keep our religion ‘pure’ and proper’.
Or we can be like Jesus and his disciples, sharing the joy of our faith at all times and in all places.
As Billy Joel sang, ‘I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints’
I don’t know why I was surprised by the announcement over the Christmas period that 13 people had used a new online system to file for divorce – I worked in the family courts for many years and saw the harmful conflict that some unhappily married people can embark on – but having looked further it seems these 13 were a small part of the 455 applications submitted between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. To put this in context – divorce applications are reported to be decreasing so this could be construed as ‘good news’ even though it was not reported in that way.
However we choose to view these statistics for a number of people peace and goodwill were not part of their Christmas and somehow the fact that people can now go online on Christmas Day to file for divorce (at the same time as grabbing bargain purchases in the sales) is not only sad but is so far removed from celebrating the birth of Jesus, the son of God and the significance of that event even if it was a long time ago. In the middle of a struggling marriage, it is very easy to focus on what you believe is wrong instead of stopping to listen to God and ask Him for guidance.
With Valentine Day this month I pondered on how many of the 455 couples had perhaps met or even married on 14th February. No doubt some were among the many people who associate Valentine Day with romance, fun and love. I would like to think at some point during these now disrupted marriages, the husband and wife had loved one another. Fortunately some will have done and the ending of their shared hopes and dreams of an enduring future life together may enable them to conclude their marriage as amicably as possible and sometimes divorcing parents are successful in their aim to minimize disruption and upset for their children and one another.
Last October John and I celebrated 40 years of marriage. In our latter years together I would say we have both made a concerted effort to live our married life with God as our ‘third strand’ (Ecclesiastes 4:12) but I believe our enduring relationship with one another and with God helped us through difficult times.
One thing is certain life would not be the same without the power of prayer (even if the answer wasn’t always as expected) and without God’s unfailing love for us.
"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32