Coming together: from Weddings to Social Justice, we need to come together in love.

Second Sunday after Epiphany Year C 2022

To listen to this sermon, click this LINK

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Unclench your fists, hold our your hands, take mine.

Let us hold each other.

Thus is God’s Glory Manifest. Amen. – Madeline L’Engle

I don’t know about you but 2022 is off and running at top speed.

Even if you haven’t resumed all of your activities of 2019, the opportunities seem to abound this year. While not all in person, many by zoom, things that were postponed are back, and some things still not quite back to full force.

Legislative Session is in Session, Today is Martin Luther King, Jr’ Day, our Omicron numbers are not peaking yet…….so many things straining for our attention.

In the life of the church, we are celebrating people having babies, couples getting married, beloved friends dying. Our lives are full. There is deep thankfulness for these moments of new beginnings, new chapters and the moments we have had when we let go of a loved one as their chapter here on earth ends.

We raise our glasses, we pause, we give thanks, we reflect.

And the reality is that we need each and every one of you in this story.  Each of your quirky selves with strengths and flaws help make this story to move forward together. If anyone one has told you otherwise, they were wrong.

Together, holding each other, we manifest, or make evident, God’s glory (in the words of Madeline L’Engle)

This message of unity of individuality is the message that Paul has today for the Corinthians. Corinth was a booming town with lots of conflicting messages. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians were letters to help them where they were on their spiritual journey and go deeper. Today he is reminding them about the importance of each person within the community and this message continues in this same chapter, later. We are all different and that is something to celebrate, embrace, and welcome- each vital to the community’s identity.

In the fullness of our days, have we resumed the things we have always done in the way we used to or have we realized where we might need to stretch and to grow in love, in understanding, in relationships?

Have we let go of the time when the world stood still and we all realized how busy we were and we didn’t like it?

What fills our day?

Is it activity?

Is it anxiety?

Is it joy?

Is it sorrow?

Does it depend on the minute, hour, day?

I don’t believe there is a wrong thing to fill our day, I do believe what we do with that emotion and activity matters. Each moment is a moment for transformation.

In our Gospel reading today we have moved from the baptism of Jesus in the water of the River Jordan, to the water being transformed into wine at the wedding in Cana. (Rumor has it that once every three years when this reading read, there is free wine in Cana in thanksgiving. I have not had this confirmed, though.) At the wedding, the wine has run out. While this would happen regardless, the timing was not what the host had planned.

Mary, like any good southern woman, wanted to save the host the disgrace of lack of hospitality. Mary came to the rescue with a plan to fix the problem. She believed her son could and should resolve the predicament. She believed in him and told him so. After discussion and time, Jesus acts and the new wine he has created is better than the wine they toasted with at the beginning of the celebration.

Let’s look at this first sign of Jesus’s power as imagery for God and creation and the message for our own lives. The sign has very little to do with alcohol at all.

God created this world perfect, marvelous, abundant with resources. All was in perfect relationship with God and with one another. (The beginning of the wedding reception when all that was needed was available)

Temptation and sin distanced us from God, our own flawed divisions take over. We see shortage rather than abundance. (What was needed at the wedding ran out)

We are promised, in scripture, a new creation a reunification with God in heaven, a New Heaven and Earth, better than we can imagine. The good wine that Jesus creates at the wedding is imagery of the heavenly banqueting table, being reunited with abundance, divisions ceasing, and only joy and connection exists.

I wonder where you find yourself in the story.

Do see yourself in the wine at the beginning of the wedding, the abundance? The space in the story where all is going well, relationships, and you are coping with the stress of the world going around you?

Do you see yourself in the space where the wine has run out, where your energy is gone, your frustrations are high, perhaps you are at the end of a bitter divorce, you live in fear of your own safety, the safety of others, you have lost a loved one, anger at injustice, you cannot seem to get well, your anxiety inhibits you from finding joy?

If you resonate with this part of the story, hear this, just like in the wedding in Cana, there is the promise of even better wine. There is a promise that God is there with you and the time of “running out” will end.

Some days we are the ones running out and we need a Mary to reach out and assist.

Sometimes we are the Mary for our friends who are running out and invite them to hold on. Reminding them that Jesus is here too and there is possibility.

St Paul liked to give instructions through letter form, we hear that today. His reminder to come together as community, to strive together for unity. Dr. King gave to those who followed him 10 commandments to non-violence that governed their work. They are worthy of reflection and refocusing our lives even so today.

Similar to St Paul, Dr King reminded people:

  1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
  2. Remember always that the non-violent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.
  3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
  4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
  5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
  6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
  7. Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
  8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
  9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
  10. Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.

Each of us, uniquely, has the opportunity to come together and to be with one another. This takes work, stretching and growing beyond what has always been done. Stretching beyond ahat is comfortable.

Jesus was and is with us in the ordinary and transforming small moments of running out into moments of new beginnings and celebrations.

We each are a part of this conversation. Our Common humanity depends on it. Each of our unique gifts and talents can be listened deeply to and be engaged.

St Paul wrote to encourage his flock, John wrote to show us in beautiful imagery the hope we have through Jesus’ actions, and Dr. Martin Luther King also spoke to the vision that has yet to come. Dr King believed we were capable of change and those words still invite us today to keep working together.

So, Unclench your fists, hold our your hands, take mine.

Let us hold each other.

Thus is God’s Glory Manifest. Amen.

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