Since the very beginning of Christianity, churches formed rule, regulations, and ways to try to control and understand the movement of the Spirit in the lives of those who call themselves Christian. When I was in college, I attended a lot of different churches from various Christian traditions and what stood out to me is that each tradition has its own rules and regulations and they believed that they have the right combination of rules that will insure entrance into heaven.
In one church, I was told that before I could call myself a Christian I needed to display the blessing of the Holy Spirit which only came in the form of speaking tongues. I can’t speak in tongues. So, I was not a good Christian. I was told that if I were a true believer I would have memorized the whole Bible chapter and verse. Yet as well as I have come to know the Bible, I still do not know it chapter and verse. I guess I am not a true believer. I have been told that if I sit quietly in church and leave everything up to the men of the church, then I will receive favor in heaven. I have never been good a keeping my mouth shut. I guess I am a religious deviant. I have been told that if I want to receive communions, then I need be baptized by the Catholic Church, participate in confession, and that is how I will receive salvation. I have achieved none of that. I guess salvation is not for me.
So according to the rules and regulations of many Christian traditions, I am not achieving salvation and am doomed to burn in hell, and even more so that I must not have experienced the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians deals primarily with this problem even in the early Christian home churches. This tells me that as human beings, we have this innate need to feel like we are in an exclusive club. We like to feel like there is some kind of predictable pattern to how God works and how the Holy Spirit works in the world and in our lives.
Yet the nature of God and the work of the Holy Spirit is anything but predictable. The only thing that governs it is love, grace, and care. Richard Cizik wrote, “When I die, God isn’t going to ask me ‘Did I create the Earth in six days or five days?’ but ‘What did you do with what I gave you?’” God isn’t going to ask us which rules did we follow. He isn’t going to care about whether we did confession before partaking in communion or whether we ever uttered a word in tongues. He isn’t going to care if we were rule followers or not. He will only care about what we did with the abundance he has given to us. Did we share of the abundance of the spirit given and shared with each of us as Christ shared so openly of himself at the wedding in Cana?
Jesus offers us not one specific gift but the gift that will fill the void that exist inside each of us. He gifts us with the wine that brings new life to our personal lives and it is unique to each of our needs and he gives in abundance. He fills our jars of ordinary water with something truly special and unique. If we are open to the spirit, our needs will be filled. If we are open to the spirit then we will let the spirit move freely through our lives unhindered. Do not allow for the rules and regulations of society and the human need to control block out the call of God. For as Soren Kierkegaard once wrote, “Christ turned water into wine, but the church has succeeded in doing something even more difficult: it has turned wine into water”.
As a people let us reach out to one another to honor the way the Spirit flows so freely and creatively in the lives of humanity. Let us honor the abundance gifted to us by Christ by allowing the joy from that abundance to flow freely through our activities. Let’s not get caught up in definitions, by-laws, and trying to define how the spirit should flow and let’s just discover it anew together and follow where it leads.
As Christians, we must be careful that we are not stomping out the work of Christ in this world because it does not work as we think it should, or it does not look the way we would we like it to or think it should. As Christians, we should work to notice the movement of the spirit in ourselves and in others. We do so by taking time to honor uniqueness, by taking the time to get to know one another, and to get to know God. We learn of God’s work through the study of the scriptures; we get to know one another through fellowshipping and we get to know the world by allowing our gifts to be shared with others building people up in our spiritual abundance instead of tearing them down.
We are called today to be a positive force in this world. We are called to be the vessels for the spirit of God to be made a live in our world. We are called to allow for the spirit to lead us towards his work. Remember the words of our scriptures this morning, “When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus gives to each of us with such extravagant abundance, what he offers in the spirit is the very best. Let us honor those gifts by developing them, accepting and welcoming them, and sharing them as often as we can.
 Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals. 21st century.
 Soren Kierkegaard, 19th century theologian.
 John 2: 9-10, RSV.
(based on John 12: 1-11 and 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11)