Thursday, January 14, 2010

Memo for Second Sunday after Epiphany
January 17
John 2: 1-11 “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana...”

I think it is nice that the first miracle in John’s gospel has Jesus turning water into wine--and lots of it. Who needed all of that wine? He filled six stone jars each holding 20 to 30 gallons. That is a lot of sauce!

A friend tells me that some scholars think that the disciples crashed the wedding party and drank all the wine and that is why Mary brought the problem to Jesus. There are lots of strange aspects to this story. Would any of you dare call your mother “Woman”? That’s how Jesus addresses Mary. And why did the event happen on the third day? Why was Jesus attending the wedding? And who got married?

I once had the President of the old Temperance League in the church I served. She was sure that the wine was grape juice. She took me to task after I said to the congregation that being Christian is about the business of turning the water into wine. I was trying to say that the Christian life needs to be about joyous abundant living and wine is a symbol of such joy. The Temperance Lady was not having any of that.

Paul Tillich once was asked about our practice of using juice rather than wine at communion. Tillich said that we should never dilute a symbol. (I know all the reasons to justify using the juice and I would not argue for change. I do think, however, that Bishop Welsh had a good thing going).

The wedding at Cana is the first of seven miracles in John’s Gospel. The writer looks back through the Easter event to help us see Jesus as the risen Christ--the new wine- that the old wine skins will not hold. And there is joy. He will say that he came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Scarcity, the rule of the day then and now is restored by abundance. What if we decided as the church to be the new wine--the confident people of hope and joy. Do you have “the joy, joy, down in your heart?” Well let it out--Christ is risen. The epiphany light shines in the darkness. Go tell it on the mountain.

New Resource
On the third Monday in January we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated On April 4, 1968.

To honor King’s life I have been reading Just Us or Justice? Moving toward a Pan-Methodist Theology by a young teacher at the Saint Paul School of Theology, F. Douglas Powe Jr., and published by Abingdon Press.

Powe makes the case for integrating African American and Wesleyan theologies and reveals not only our sorry history but also the new possibilities for reconciliation and reunion. His chapter on Engaging Friendships using the sources of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Fine, and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple to provide models for friendship is just wonderful. A good book for the Church Library.

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