Message from Sunday

First Reformed Church of Little Falls, NJ

                          “When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, he called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘You have kept the good wine until now!’” “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed—the smallest of all seeds, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the largest of all shrubs.” Change and growth are wonderful mysteries—impure water is somehow changed into fine wine. Change and growth are mysteries—a small gray seed somehow grows into an ecosystem-changing tree.

             My brother Tyson is the owner and founder of a tiny beer company in Denver, Colorado. He brews beer in an extremely old-timey way, with no machinery. Tyson recently educated me on the mystery that confronted the very earliest medieval monastery brewers in Europe—the mystery of the fermentation process. The monks truly did not know how it happened! They only know that they could create certain circumstances—they could heat the water slowly and add the hops and the grain and stir it up—but the action that would then begin to happen, they couldn’t explain, they only knew that it did happen. They even began to refer to the brewer’s wooden paddle as a “magic wand”—for when the brewer used it in vat after vat, the water would foam up and the mysterious process would begin! And then, when the vats were emptied into barrels, an unknown substance was left in the bottom, and when that substance was transferred into a new vat, the process went quicker and better! Of course, we in a scientific age know that the unknown substance was yeast, and that that yeast hitched a ride into the vat on the ingredients, and that magic wand of the porous brewer’s paddle was really just a vehicle for the transfer of the yeast. But the medieval brewers didn’t know that, and so in their writings, they referred to this mysterious agent of change and growth by a wonderful term: they called it “godisgoode.” They called it godisgoode.

             They chalked up the mystery of change and growth to the goodness of God; to the loving hand of the Divine. One thing had become another thing—a thing that brought joy and gladness. I think we can fairly say that the mystery of all change and growth can be attributed to the goodness of God. “When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, he called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘You have kept the good wine until now!’” What changed the water into the finest of wine? Godisgoode! “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed—the smallest of all seeds, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the largest of all shrubs.” What brings the puniest of seeds to the largest and most vital of trees, one that offers a home to all living things? Godisgoode!

             Friends, do you believe that the miraculous processes of growth and change are still at work in the church, even in our denomination? Do you believe that godisgoode, that God by mysterious and loving processes makes something out of nothing in the Reformed Church in America? I do! For what could possibly account for the RCA’s welcome of all ethnicities and languages, after centuries of lily-white, northern-European insularity? Godisgoode! And what could possibly account for thousands of women ordained into church leadership, after hundreds of years of stony insistence that only maleness can carry the call of the Lord? Godisgoode! And what, I ask you, stirred the heart of this church community to take a controversial stand by the side of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer sisters and brothers, to offer a welcome and a home? What was responsible for this change and this growth? Could it have been…godisgoode? That’s right. It was the Lord’s mysterious and loving action that provided such a joyous and beautiful result. For God is good. Let us pray together.

 

Lord, by your mysterious goodness, make the impure water of our human hearts the finest wine of the church. By your mysterious goodness, make the puny, dry seeds of our weak faith the glorious, spreading tree of your kingdom. Let us offer an ever more radical welcome, and change the ecosystem of the Reformed Church in America. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.