Epiphany 2 – Wedding at Cana

Title:Epiphany 2 – Wedding at Cana

 Epiphany 2, Jan. 20, 2019 (full size gallery)

This week we had our first Village Harvest of the year. The first Village Harvest of 2019 brought 110 people on snow covered ground on Jan. 16. The snow was still around from Sunday when services were canceled.The number of shoppers was down from 140 in December but above 86 a year ago, Jan., 2018. It was slightly below the average for the last 12 months, 116.

We began our Epiphany study of Romans covering the first two chapters.

We welcome Susan Tilt at the service today and celebrated Cookie’s birthday delayed from last week’s snow.

We had 39 in the service today. A front came through at the time of the reading of the Epistle (1 Corinthians 12) and Catherine quipped that the spirit was coming through the front doors!

We had our annual congregational meeting and elected Elizabeth Heimbach and Robert Bryan to replace Helmut Linne von Berg and Boyd Wisdom. Catherine reviewed the new security policy and Johnny summarized the financial results.

Today’s readings speak of the revelation of hidden glory breaking through and inviting celebration. Isaiah announces the coming glory of God’s vindicated people when they return to rebuild their shattered homeland. Paul describes the amazing results of spiritual gifts, given to all God’s people “for the common good.” Today’s gospel, the story of the wedding feast at Cana, relates the first “sign” of Jesus’ identity and ministry that “revealed his glory.”

The Isaiah reading may have been written after the exiled Israelites had returned from Babylon. Rebuilding their devastated homeland (61:4) was a difficult task, and the people grew weary and disillusioned. The prophet intercedes for the disheartened people in assurance that the Lord will fulfill the promise of restoration.

Reflecting God’s tenacity, the prophet stubbornly refuses to give up or to maintain the status quo He will work tirelessly for Jerusalem’s promised vindication. Jerusalem will receive a new name (60:14)—as had Abram, Sarai and Jacob—to mark its new life. The prophet describes the Lord’s relationship to the people as a marriage bond (as did the prophet Hosea). The land shall be called Beulah (62:4), which means “married,” because the Lord will once again be committed exclusively to the people of Israel.

The Epistle from Corinthians begins a sequence of readings from this letter during the weeks after Epiphany. The beginning of this chapter, “now concerning…,” indicates that Paul is taking up another of the questions posed to him by the Corinthian church (7:1, 25; 8:1; 16:1, 12:1).

In chapters 12–14, Paul discusses spiritual gifts. The Corinthian community was torn by dissension over the nature, use and apportionment of such gifts. Paul emphasizes that these are gifts of grace to all, not the personal or private possession of only certain people.

Paul points out the triune operation of God in spiritual gifts: the Holy Spirit as the Giver (12:4), Jesus as the One to whom service is given (12:5) and God the Father as the One at work in the gift (12:6). The gifts are complementary and meant for the common good. No one gift is more valuable than another.

The story of the wedding at Cana in John’s Gospel is full of hints of multiple meanings. It is an epiphany story, the first of the “signs” that manifest the power and presence of God in Jesus’ acts.

The Gospel was the basis for the sermon.

“But what I love about this story is that John tells us that Jesus and his disciples HAD BEEN INVITED to the wedding. In other words, the wedding party issued a specific invitation to him—we want You there.

“When we intentionally invite God into our lives, we can be sure that God will not only provide in the moment, but the best really is yet to be because God is constantly at work on our behalves to bring the best to fruition.

“We can live our lives with hope. ”

The setting of a wedding feast echoes both the marriage bond between God and Israel and the messianic banquet at the end of time. Jesus’ interchange with his mother is not disrespectful, but is a Semitic way of expressing a disassociation of common interests. Jesus’ “hour,” set by divine plan, is the final revelation of his glory in the passion and crucifixion. Jesus reminds Mary that his mission is not to fulfill human desires but God’s will. Though he responds to Mary’s plea, he does so in cooperation with the purposes of his ministry.

The essential features of this “sign” are: the failure of the old (2:3); its replacement by a vast supply (2:6) of new (abundance was to be a feature of the last days); and the superiority of the new (2:10). The replacement symbolizes Jesus’ transformation of the old order of ritual purification and of the Torah, which water symbolized, into the new order of purification through the cross, through the blood (1 John 1:7) and through new teaching.