Monday, January 11, 2016

Water into Wine – 17 January 2016 – Second Sunday after the Epiphany

The revelation of Jesus’ identity was last Sunday’s celebration at his baptism. This Sunday we are shown the beginnings of what that new identity means. Miracles abound! Water becomes wine – even better than the wine before!

Most significant is the sheer amount of the transformation. An overabundance of wine has emerged where there was none.

This is God’s way – huge, unbelievable gifts appearing just when all we can see is a lack. 

John 2:1-11

Jesus' transformation of water to wine is the first of seven signs in John. Jesus' mother in this episode is as the ideal disciple who trusts. Jesus' response is a Semitism suggesting that someone does not sense oneself concerned with the issue. John's Jesus is distinguishing between signs that would reveal his glory and his glorification, which John associates with the passion. That Jesus' mother remains confident in face of this correction is illustrative of her role as faithful disciple. She reappears during the hour to symbolize future believers Paul identifies as the body of Christ. – Regina Boisclair

While it may be appropriate to focus on what God's power and love enabled Jesus to do at the wedding at Cana and what it symbolized for the gathered community, it is equally beneficial for us to plunge into the rich symbol of wine and fully appreciate its power.

John Calvin . . . had this to say about wine: “Wine is God's special drink. The purpose of good wine is to inspire us to a livelier sense of gratitude to God” (The Spirituality of Wine [Kelowna, Canada: Northstone Pub., 2004] 6). – Carol J. Noren

Isaiah 62:1-5

The marital imagery in this prophetic text allows us to link the first and the Gospel reading through what God does to make community, connect the estranged, bring us all home. It calls to mind the crowning of the bridal couple in an Orthodox wedding rite. 

This selection is from the third of three songs of Zion (Isaiah 60—62) that are considered the heart of Third Isaiah (Isaiah 56—66). . . . Third Isaiah reflects the era of restoration, and full realization remains for the future. The passage is replete with parallelism: Zion/Jerusalem, silent/quiet, justice/salvation, dawn/burning torch, nations/kings, justice/glory, called/pronounced, glorious crown/royal diadem, Lord (Yahweh)/God (Elohim), “Forsaken”/“Desolate,” “My Delight”/“Espoused,” young man/bridegroom, young woman/bride, marry/rejoice, Builder/God.

The prophet claims that the restored city and surrounding lands will witness the light of salvation with such a shining justice that it will be respected by the nations and their kings and be given a new name by God. Zion, the city, is to be Yahweh's crown and diadem; and Zion with an affinity to Hosea 1–2, presently identified as “Forsaken” (Azubah, 1 Kings 22:42 and 1 Chronicles 2:18) is to be renamed “My Delight” (Hephziba, 2 Kings 21:2) while the land now “Desolate” will be called “Espoused” (be'ula). . . .  [T]he relationship between God and Israel is given marital imagery. Unlike much of Hosea and Ezekiel, here emphasis is on the bridegroom who rejoices for his bride rather than as a husband of an adulterous wife. . . . In this selection justice and salvation (v 1b) are also related to glory (v 2), a word used to designate God's presence. Those who first devised this collection likely sensed a connection between the “glory” predicated for Zion and the gospel passage in which the “glory” of Jesus as the true bridegroom of a new Israel is revealed by signs. – Regina Boisclair

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

In a teaching that extends from 1 Corinthians 12:1—14:40, Paul discusses the spiritual gifts that enriched the Christians in Corinth (I Corinthians 1:5–7). However, recognizing that this community was deeply divided, Paul stresses that it is only through the Holy Spirit that these former pagans (v 2) are able to affirm “Jesus is Lord” (v 3).

The people of God, once constituted by baptism, are yet continually in need of understanding ourselves as a communion, knit together to be together in peace. The many and diverse skills, talents, interests, ways of being that exist in us, are given for the good of the whole. It can be enormously useful to be reminded of that when we are danger (as is always true) of being pulled apart. Paul’s list includes everybody.

Each one has a gift to give. Our new identity as children of God, as beloved by God, insists that our gifts are to be cherished.

Regina Boisclair, a Roman Catholic theologian, is professor of religious studies, Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage.

John Fairless is senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Florida.

Carol J. Noren, a United Methodist pastor, is the Wesley W. Nelson professor of homiletics at North Park Theological Seminary. She served chuches as pastor in Minnesota for twenty years.

Homily Service 40, no. 2 (2007): 35-45.

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