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Sermon for January 17, 2010

Epiphany 2 (Year C Revised Common Lectionary) January 17, 2010
Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2: 1-11

In our first lesson today, the prophet Isaiah is again speaking to a people who have been caught in exile, the people of God who have been trying to preserve their community life and their common faith in Babylon. At this point in their history, scholars tell us, the people have returned to Judah and they are facing the challenging task of rebuilding their temple and their lives. God will be with them through the rebuilding which happens with bricks and mortar, but God will also be with them as they rebuild spiritually.

God’s promise is cast in a particular image, the image of marriage. “Your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is In Her, and your land Married, for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Obviously, God is not literally going to marry the people, but the point is that God cares very, very much for God’s people. Our relationship with God, and God’s caring for us, are like the closest bonds, like marriage and family. God calls us into intimate relationship with God and God loves us and will not abandon us, even when we are in exile and losing hope. God will always bring us home.

This morning’s psalm reinforces the theme of God’s love and care for the human family.

The epistle builds on both of these to give us St. Paul’s powerful and inspiring image of the Body of Christ. “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” This lesson is the clarion call of baptismal ministry. There is such an array of gifts, wisdom knowledge, faith, healing, the discernment of spirits, administration, teaching, encouraging others, fixing furnaces, balancing the books, counting money, reading lessons, making coffee, singing, praying, all these gifts. They are almost staggering in their number.

And there are varieties of members of the Body of Christ. We have here the theme of unity in diversity. Christians do not come in one size, shape, or color. Christians are not just one kind of person. They are all colors, all ages, from all walks of life. Yet no matter how diverse we are in our gifts and our opinions, the one Spirit draws us all together. Our focus is on Christ. We are all trying to follow him.

All these wonderful gifts come from the same source, God’s loving and energizing Spirit, which allows the Body to come alive with the life of Christ and the presence and power of God. That’s the important thing, that, as we work together and realize our gifts and exercise all the many ministries in the Body, we remember that it is all coming from the same Spirit, and that Spirit makes us one.

Now we come to the gospel, the wedding at Cana. The wine gives out. Mary, the mother of Jesus, encourages him to remedy this situation. Jesus is quite abrupt. In John, the statement, “My hour is not yet come,” refers to the Cross. The full unfolding of Jesus’ ministry is not to happen at this wedding. And yet Mary knows that Jesus cares as much as she does about these people and about their celebration. And so the water is transformed into wine—the best yet—and the feast goes on.

This is Jesus’ first miracle. It is such a down-to-earth, caring celebrative thing. Jesus acts so that a celebration may continue which otherwise might have come to an embarrassing end. Yet he produces a huge amount of wine, and the steward does not even know what has happened. In other words, the whole event is full of ambiguity. Yet the entire life of our Lord is full of ambiguity as well. People fail to recognize him for who he is. They do not realize what he is doing, yet the full reality unfolds through the Cross and Easter. Jesus does a very human and loving thing in this first miracle, and, as always, he gives a gift of great abundance.

Jesus shares in the intimate things of life–weddings, celebrations, family joy. God cares deeply about us as God’s family. In the midst of the love shared among us and God is the outpouring of all these gifts for ministry. The Spirit gives us all the gifts we need to do the ministry we are called to do. There is such a diversity of gifts and people, yet, somehow, in a way which we will never understand, we are one, as Jesus and the Father are one, as close as family.

And so, at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and in every gathering where there is love, in the outpouring of gifts in the Body of Christ, in every moment of human life, even the most ordinary and homespun, the light of Christ shines.

Amen.

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