150: Epiphany 2C (Jan. 17, 2016)


150 for Sunday, January 17, 2016, Epiphany 2C

Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt “Harvest,” her song about marriage from her album “Seven Songs.”

Episode 150 Proper Second Sunday after Epiphany, Year C- (Jan. 17, 2016)

Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 150 for Sunday, January 17, 2016, second Sunday after Epiphany, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Sesquicentennial episode
  • Martin Luther King

Quick-Fire Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 A variety of gifts

  • Beginning of 3 weeks on Corinthians 12 and 13- nice little interconnect series culminating in one of the best known and beloved scripture parts

    • 1/17 - Spiritual gifts
    • 1/25 - Body of Christ
    • 1/31 - Love of Christ
  • Addressing the ivisions in the early church over who has the best Spiritual gifts
  • There is no “best” spiritual gift
  • You may have divisions in the church between different factions: Outreach and worship, Youth Group and Music, Stewardship and Fellowship etc.

    • Radical message: ALL ARE NEEDED! and all are valued
  • What is the “litmus test” for Spiritual gifts?

    • Does it proclaim “Jesus is Lord”?

      • YES-Spiritual Gift
      • NO- Not a spiritual gift
  • Preaching and teaching is only one of many equally valued spiritual gifts - priesthood of all believers!

Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt “Harvest,” her song about marriage from her album “Seven Songs.”

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Gospel Reading: John 2:1-11 Wedding in Cana
Initial Thoughts

  • John butts in yet again- every 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
  • Well known story- only appears in John’s Gospel

Bible Study

  • Third Day-Introduction to the ministry of Jesus

    • Day Zero - Baptized
    • Day One - “steals” Peter and Andrew from John
    • Day Two- Goes to Galilee and recruits Philip and Nathanael
    • Day Three- Wedding in Cana
    • First “miracle” and act of ministry outside of calling the disciples
    • symbolic of resurrection - foreshadows the wedding feast of the faithful and God
  • This is NOT John the Baptist who ate locusts and honey and lived in the desert- the Word is going to the people, not waiting for them to come to him

    • Jesus’ miracle is evangelistic only in the celebratory nature and in how the disciples believe in him
    • Not a broad miracle in which many come to believe, but is misunderstood to have been the good work of the bridegroom
  • Jesus’ Rebuttal- “Woman, what Concern is that to you and me?”

    • Foreshadows the very end of the Gospel in John 19

John 19:26-30 (NRSV)
26  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son."
27  Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
28  After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty."
29  A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.
30  When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  

    • The Gospel of John is encapsulated by the death and resurrection of Jesus

      • BUT - this is not a time for dying but a time for living
      • Perhaps a rejection of those who want to rush through the life of Jesus to the crucifixion
  • What happened? Did all the wine run out or just the “good wine”?

    • Perhaps just the good wine - Instead of being practical and bringing out the sour wine (see 19:29) Jesus revealed an abundance of good wine.
    • Good wine? More alcoholic, saved only for the best of occasions, safer than water
  • Extravagance of God and the scarcity of the world

    • The scarcity of the world

      • Not enough
      • Practical - Use the best first so they won’t notice the cheap stuff later - save $$
      • Jars are used for Ritual purification- not so you can get drunk!
    • Abundance of God

      • Filled to the brim
      • Good wine
      • 6 jars holding 20-30 gallons each
      • Anything and everything can be used for God’s good works- even “holy purification jars”
  • Carol Lakey Hess in Feasting on the Word - Question of Theodicy

    • The Wedding at Cana pits the needs of the world in direct confrontation with the abundant generosity of God
    • If God is so miraculously generous and filled with abundance, then why are so many left without wine/clean water/safety/education/ healthcare, etc.
    • Are we to be the servants through through which God’s abundance flows?
    • Are we to be Mary constantly voicing the concerns of the people to God in confidence that God will make it right?

      • John 2, however, reveals what God has in mind—abundance, and the mother of Jesus nudges us to ask what God had in mind—during slavery, the genocide of Native peoples, the Holocaust.”
    • Both?
    • Great tie in for MLK weekend

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Is the church a church of John the Baptist - proclaiming the good news for all who come to hear or is the church a church of Jesus who goes out and meets people where they are with joyous extravagance?
  • The abundance of God in which we have more and better than we ever could have imagined meets our culture of scarcity in which we can never have enough.
  • How do we balance out the miraculous abundance of God with the great and unaddressed needs of the world? Carol Lakey Hess in Feasting on the Word

Psalm Nugget:  Psalm 36:5-10  Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

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Second Reading:  Isaiah 62:1-5 Salvation for Zion
Initial Thoughts

  • Two immediate connections:

    • Wedding imagery from Jesus at Cana and this passage
    • Martin Luther King’s quote “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Bible Study

  • Third Isaiah?

    • Debatable
    • Important: It is about what comes after exile.
    • Physical, emotional, and spiritual effects of exile are still fresh.
    • How will Judah, and Jerusalem in particular, go on?
  • Who is speaking? God or Prophet?

    • Anathea Portier-Young writes in Working Preacher, “Who is speaking in this passage? There are two ways to read Isaiah 62:1-5, and there are solid arguments and first-rate scholars on both sides of the fence.”
    • Seems like a continuation of ch 61 “The Lord God’s spirit is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, and liberation for prisoners…” There is no break between this statement and the one that begins here with “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent.”
    • Callie Plunket Brewton agrees “Significantly, the prophet’s response to this reality is not to provide a word from God to the people. The prophet’s words are on behalf of Zion and are directed, albeit implicitly, to God (verses 1-4, 5b) and the people (see verse 5a, in which the word translated “builder” actually reads “builders” or “sons” in the Hebrew, suggesting that the human inhabitants of Zion are in view here). The prophet in these five verses stands in stubborn solidarity with Zion, refusing to budge until she is vindicated. In wonderfully onomatopoetic and alliterative Hebrew, the prophet uses two verbs with the “sh” sound which are translated as “rest” and “be silent” by the NRSV. The prophet will not hush or be shushed until Zion is transformed into a beloved and beautiful reality once again.”
    • Prophet promises that he will stand until that time comes.
    • “In light of these [other lectionary] readings, I see an incredible opportunity to preach from Isaiah 62:1-5 a sermon of intercession” (Anathea Portier-Young)
    • Prophet is compelling God to keep the promises that God has already made.
  • Newness

    • New Name

      • From Abandoned and Deserted to “My Delight is in Her”
      • God will give Jerusalem the new name
      • What was once given to her by enemies will be replaced by God.
    • New Clothes

      • A splendid garland and a royal turban. It is not just that Jerusalem will get new clothes - it is that Jerusalem will be the sign of glory to God. J will be the clothes.
      • God’s glory will be made known because of the beauty and glory of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, which within its name is “peace”
    • New Marriage - which is a sign of new hope and new life.

      • Marriage of God to the people is a common metaphor in the Bible - OT and NT. The relationship between God and the people, in which the people are often unfaithful is a favorite of the prophets. Here though, they are like newlyweds. The joy of the relationship is exciting and new.
      • Marriage is also a sign of life. It is a sign that life can return to normalcy. That men and women can get married, and begin to raise families.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • What is your voice that cannot be silenced? For whom do you speak?
  • Story of Jerusalem being transformed from deserted and abandoned to married and beautiful might not sit well with modern audiences. Care should be taken to not equate singleness with abandonment or inadequacy. There is, however a historical cultural contextual reality that must be considered. In the ancient world, marriage, and thus childbearing, was the ultimate goal for a woman.

    • And we should be careful not to push this aside to the ancient world too quickly. There are hundreds of movies where the ugly girl is ‘made over’ into a beauty, and then wins the heart of the boy. Perhaps playing with the metaphor of Jerusalem as “Ugly Ducking” may be a fruitful one for preaching.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners

  • Mary Brown, @MaryWBrown, who referenced us in a recent blog post and tweet about the idea of Epiphany being the first baby shower.
  • Sean Andreas, @shon_Ondray “Important to ask ourselves if Matthew is giving us facts or trying to tell us a deeper truth. #EpiphanyC @PulpitFpodcast


Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt “Harvest,” her song about marriage from her album “Seven Songs.”

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”)