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.
The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
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.
5 Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, *
and your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; *
you save both man and beast, O Lord.
7 How priceless is your love, O God! *
your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast upon the abundance of your house; *
you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the well of life, *
and in your light we see light.
10 Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, *
and your favor to those who are true of heart.
The New Testament
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.
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.
Second Sunday after Epiphany
Sometimes when I look at the readings for the coming Sunday I just have to scratch my head and wonder where the connections are between them. Today is an easy one. Isaiah says, “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.”
Marriages are about deepening a relationship and Isaiah reminds us that we are married to our God and it is something to rejoice.
Of course, in this gospel reading from John there is a problem at the wedding feast at which Jesus, his mother and the disciples are attending. They are running out of wine. Today, it would be no big deal. We would just go to Hy-Vee and get more. That would not have been the case two thousand years ago. It would have been a major source of embarrassment to the groom and his family. Shame and honor were very important in this culture two thousand years ago.
Mary hears about the problem and knows how it can be fixed. She tells Jesus. Jesus says woman it is not my time but Mary knows her son. She tells the wine steward to do whatever Jesus says and the rest is history.
So, Jesus' first recorded miracle it to change water into wine. It wasn't to heal the sick, raise the dead or walk on water. It was to make sure the family of the couple getting married did not lose face. What I like about this story is the humanity of it. It says a lot about the relationship between Jesus and his mother, Mary. Still, by some measures this is a small miracle.
At bible study last Tuesday we talked about miracles. We especially talked about small miracles. There are so many things that happen in our lives that I suppose could be coincidence but there are too many of them for me to just consider them to be random.
All of the coincidences that fell into place for Sherry and myself in order for us to move here are one example. Another example was mentioned at bible study last Tuesday. One of the participants in our bible study group related this story. A neighbor was backing out of her drive and bottomed out her car on a snow drift. Four guys in a truck happened to be driving by at the same time. They stopped, got out of their truck and made short work of the lady's problem. I believe these small miracles are an example of some divine dance that God has set in motion.
Let me just say a few words about Paul's letter to the Corinthians. We all have gifts. God given gifts. You all know what you do best and I believe it is our responsibility to make the good use of whatever talents we have. Our Shrove Tuesday pancake supper is coming up and those of you who are good at flipping pancakes will use that talent for the greater glory of God. Our Girl Scouts will use their talents for serving customers. We all are exhausted when it is over and the end result is that we have raised money for the food bank.
I thank God for all of you and your gifts.