Epiphany 2C (OT 2)
150: January 17, 2016
307: January 20, 2019
Water into Wine kit from the Science Company
John butts in yet again- every 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Well known story- only appears in John’s Gospel
Epiphany isn’t a season, but it could be. This fits a series of stories of Jesus being revealed
“What kind of Jewish Dionysus is this? The Jesus of John has saved the good wine until the ‘now’ of a first disclosure of his glory. It was a manifestation, an epiphany, and it was meant to be that - observed later in the church as the Epiphany on the feast of Dionysus, January 6 in our calendar, when it was reputed in the Greek world that the god turned water into wine.” (Sloyan, Interpretation: John)
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 Nathaniel
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?”
Mary’s name is never used. Always “mother of Jesus”
Foreshadows the very end of the Gospel in John 19
John 19:26-30 (NRSV) When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty." 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. 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
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
6 jars holding 20-30 gallons each
Anything and everything can be used for God’s good works- even “holy purification jars”
This is a transition story, reflecting the shift from before Jesus to after his arrival
“Nothing is changed but everything is changed. What had been water is wine. Word has become flesh. An hour that has not yet come is here. This is existence at the edge of the ages, a point at which the old eon and the new dance a figured minuet. What will be is. What seems to be is no more. In this Word and Light of God who is man, all is new. How else can the transformation be conveyed except in quiet parables of cosmic change?” (Sloyan, Interpretation: John)
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.”
Great tie in for MLK weekend
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
1 Corinthians and Epiphany
1 Corinthians is always paired with Epiphany
Year A - 1 Corinthians 1-4
Year B - 1 Corinthians 6-9
Year C - 1 Corinthians 12-15
Epiphany 2 - 1 Cor 12:1-11 Spiritual gifts
Epiphany 3 - 1 Cor 12:12-31 Body of Christ
Epiphany 4 - 1 Cor 13 Love of Christ
Epiphany 5- 1 Cor 15:1-11 Christ died for our sins
Epiphany 6 - 1 Cor 15:12-20 Resurrection of the dead
Epiphany 7 - 1 Cor 15:35-38, 42-50 Imperishable soul
Epiphany 8 - 1 Cor 15:51-58 (not used this year) Where O death is your victory?
Part of a larger section (chapters 11-14) on how the Corinthians should conduct themselves during worship - what is faithful worship behavior
While chapter 11 deals with many of the practicalities of worship (what to wear and how to share the Lord’s Supper) chapters 12-14 address the spiritual manifestations of worship
12:1-31a - congruent role of spiritual gifts within the diverse body of Christ
12:31b-13 - the supremacy and universality of love over and above all other spiritual gifts
14 - the problem: people speaking in tongues
Paul is addressing Spiritual gifts but does not deny the spiritual gifts themselves- just the interpretation of these gifts
Spiritual gifts as opposed to Spiritual things
Addressing the divisions in the early church over who has the best Spiritual “things”
The Corinthians are having issues with Spiritual things (Gk: pneumatika; verse 1) and seeing these spiritual “things” as evidence of their spiritual sophistication and superiority
Paul quickly re-frames these “things” as gifts (Gk: charismata; verse 4) which moved from being personal possessions or achievements and instead re-frames these spiritual manifestations as “gifts” of God grace (Gk: charis).
In other words: You cannot boast about your spiritual gifts because, like grace, you did not thing to earn them- they are just that-a gift from God. Therefore glory is to God, not you.
Verse 7- the purpose of these gift is for the common good
Does it proclaim “Jesus is Lord”?
NO- Not a spiritual gift
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
Preaching and teaching is only one of many equally valued spiritual gifts - priesthood of all believers!
Thoughts and Questions
When we think of spirituality as a thing to be owned, then we enter into a scarcity mindset that leads to an inward self-centered approach. When we see the spirit as a gift we enter into the abundance of God which moved us outward into service and self-sacrificial love.
In what ways do we forget that our ecclesial achievements are not spiritual things to be owned and praised, but that gifts which are entrusted to us?
How do we determine what is a true spiritual gift and what is not?
Bigger conversation - what does it mean to proclaim Jesus as Lord? What does it mean to proclaim in word or action that Jesus is cursed?
A good question to ask of all our programs and activities in and outside of the church. Does _______ proclaim Jesus is Lord? If not- then perhaps we should not be doing it.
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.”
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 onomatopoeia and alliteration 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.