Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lectionary Reflction: 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

This is a project long thought of but never acted upon.  Each Sunday after hearing the lectionary readings and a sermon, I have often thought that it would be of benefit to me, and perhaps of interest to others, if I shared my own reflections.

At the end I will include some of the readings for reference.

2nd Sunday after Epiphany - RCL Year C

The reading from Isaiah concerns itself with the God's protection of the holy land and uses the metaphor of marriage in very broad strokes.  The psalm speaks of God's Love and implores that it not be withdrawn.  Paul's letter to the people of Corinth is one of the well known passages about the gifts of the Spirit and how they are given to each in different ways.  The Gospel is the story of Jesus' first miracle recorded by John.  Water is turned into wine at the wedding feast at Cana.

Jesus at the Wedding Feast in Cana

In her sermon this Sunday, Dahn* talked of how the wedding was a community event in that time.  What happened at a wedding was well remembered by all (I would have added 'they didn't have cable').  Jesus was reluctant, but at the gentle urging of his mother transforms water into wine, and does it with humility.

I can't remember a visit to Kyle's home in small town Georgia when one wedding or another was not talked about.  It is a long planned and long discussed event which is accompanied by a plethora of social gatherings.  Even though the community nature of weddings is retained in some parts of the country and the world it is a more family specific event for most of us.  Nevertheless it is a ceremony which celebrates the love of a couple and the extension of family bonds.  Clearly there are many references to marriages, both metaphorical and literal, in the Bible for good reason. It speaks to the central messages of love and the importance of relationship, community and communion.

It is hardly surprising then that marriage equality is such a pivotal issue in attaining full inclusion for lesbian and gay people.

Dahn also noted that John opens with "On the third day..."  John has no nativity narrative, but begins with "In the beginning was the word ... and the Word become flesh..."  The "first day" for John was the baptism of Jesus, the next day the gathering of the apostles and the third day the miracle at Cana.

This struck me as a reminder that taking the Bible as the "Words of God," rather than the "Word of God" can be challenging.  By this I mean that a literal interpretation rather than a divinely inspired approach is riddled with contradictions and pitfalls in the modern world. Could Jesus have gathered his 12 apostles in one literal day? It is possible, but not probable.  Perhaps this helps us to be more generous when reading the creation narrative as being 6 twenty-four hour days.

The New Testament is a lens through which we can view the old testament with a focus on the loving nature of God.  Likewise Science and two millennia provide us withe new perspectives on old stories. The "truth" of them is far less important than the "message."   

*The Rev. Dahn Gandell, Rector, St. John's Episcopal Church, Honeoye Falls, NY 
Readings (Holy Bible NRSV, taken from The Lectionary Page)

Isaiah 62:1-5

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and 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. 

Psalm 36:5-10 Page 632, BCP

Dixit injustus

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, *
and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; *
you save both man and beast, O LORD.
How priceless is your love, O God! *
your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They feast upon the abundance of your house; *
you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life, *
and in your light we see light.
Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, *
and your favor to those who are true of heart.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

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