Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Second Sunday after Epiphany (Epiphany 2)

John 2:1-11; Romans 12:6-16; Exodus 33:12-23

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Our Lord manifests His glory in the humble, ordinary, and mundane things of our humble, ordinary, and mundane lives and world: Water, bread, wine, and preachers; the marriage of a man and a woman and the consequent home and family they share together; the birth of a child and her consequent care and nurture. Truly, those who seek the LORD in power and great glory will not find Him, for He is not there, but the LORD is where He has promised to be, in the things, places, and people He promises to be present in, no matter how humble, ordinary, and mundane they may be.
And so, wise men from the east were led by a star to the Christ child. They found Him, not in the royal city of Jerusalem, or even in David’s city of Bethlehem, but in lowly Nazareth in the humble home of a humble carpenter. He was not a great man of stature, wealth, and power but a lowly helpless infant who needed to be fed and clothed and changed by His humble, ordinary, mother and father.
As a boy, Jesus did what young Hebrew boys do, He attended synagogue and temple with His parents, studied and learned the Word of the LORD, and learned His father’s trade and assisted him. The rabbis in the temple marveled at His wisdom and learning at such a young age, for He was just a humble, ordinary boy from a humble, ordinary village, the son of humble, ordinary parents. Similarly, Jesus was baptized in the same murky waters that hundreds, maybe thousands, of humble, ordinary, men, women, and children – sinners all – were baptized in. They emerged cleansed from their sins, whereas Jesus took their sins upon Himself. John cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” But the crowds only saw Jesus, the carpenter’s son from backwater Nazareth.
Today we hear about Jesus attending a wedding. Think about that for a moment. How many weddings have you attended in your lifetime? No doubt, several. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of couples get married, and, sadly, divorced, every day. Few things could be more common, ordinary, and mundane than a wedding. Nevertheless, the Evangelist thought it important to include this story in his Gospel. It was a humble, ordinary wedding in a humble, ordinary village, Cana in Galilee, not far from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth and Capernaum, the home base of His Galilean ministry. And, this wedding had an extremely humble, ordinary, and mundane problem – they had run out of wine.
Now, a little cultural background is helpful to understand why this was such a problem. First century Jewish weddings were weeklong affairs to which the whole village was invited in addition to the extensive family members of the bride and the groom. To run out of wine so early in the celebration would be a grave social embarrassment to the young couple and their families, and even the community. In this story about Jesus we see that Jesus cares, we see that God cares, about things as common, ordinary, humble, mundane, and human as weddings and the common, ordinary, humble, mundane human problems we face every day. The crux of this story, however, is not really the social problem or the miracle of turning water into wine, but it is that Jesus manifested His glory and His disciples believed in Him.
Yes, the end result of Jesus’ first recorded sign or miracle is that the twelve disciples believed in Him. Although there were likely hundreds of people present at the wedding, only the twelve, some servants, and His mother Mary knew what had occurred. Indeed, this helps us to understand the strange dialogue between Jesus and His mother when she informed Him that they had run out of wine. Jesus answered her saying that His hour had not yet come. The hour is Jesus’ time and God’s time, and Jesus’ and God’s timeline. Just as the Lord manifests His glory in humble and ordinary ways, so the Lord does so according to His time and timeline. Truly, faith in Jesus, faith in God, is to believe and trust in Him, in His goodness and providence, to act when He knows it to be right, good, and the best time. The faithful wait on the Lord and trust in His Word. Often, we have to wait as the disease worsens, as death approaches, as we wonder how we’re going to be able to pay our bills or when our wayward children might return home or their faith might be rekindled.
And so, Jesus answers His mother’s prayer. Jesus intervenes and helps the desperate situation. But, He does so in a way that draws little attention to Himself, but the attention of a select few. He instructed the servants to fill the six stone jars set aside for purification rites with water to the very brim. Those jars represented the Law of God which exposes man’s sinful uncleanness. The participants in the wedding were all sinners. They had to ceremonially wash themselves before they could participate in the feast. Jesus transformed the purifying waters necessary for the cleansing of sinners into the very best wine of celebration and joy. The servants believed they drew water from the jars, but when the master of the feast tasted it he found it to be the finest of wines. He gave the credit and the glory, not to Jesus, but to the bridegroom, exclaiming, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now!” In His time, and in His way, Jesus manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
What about everyone else? Well, they enjoyed the wedding feast, and they enjoyed the very good wine, without taking notice of the Lord’s presence and actions. And, we are often no better than them. We only look to the Lord in things that seem impressive to us or in times of desperate need. We often do not think of Him in the common, ordinary, humble, and mundane day to day routines of our lives: Preparing meals, doing household chores, changing diapers, going to work or school, etc. And yet, Jesus is there with you in those common, ordinary, humble, and mundane things just as He was present at that all-too common and ordinary wedding. I encourage you to look for Him in your lives, to invite Him into your day to day common, ordinary, humble, and mundane lives. The common table prayer is just such a prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.” I know that I have often thought to myself, “Why would Jesus want to be a guest here, at this common, ordinary, humble, and mundane table?” I’ve even thought to myself, “Do I really want Him to be here, as we squabble and fuss with trivial things and even quarrel and bicker at times?” Lord, help us to want Jesus to be with us. Holy Spirit, cause us to believe that He wants to and is with us, just as He has promised. And, help us to be patient and to trust that the Lord will do what He knows best in the time that He knows to be best.
Our Lord Jesus is present with us now, just as He has promised, in the common, ordinary, humble, and mundane people, building, and materials of the Church. We don’t look like much to the world, or even to each other, and yet Jesus is here in His Word proclaimed, in the water of Holy Baptism, in the forgiveness of sins, in the bread and wine of His Supper, and in the hearts, words, and deeds of you His people, His brothers and sisters, His Bride. Truly, this is a foretaste of the wedding feast we will celebrate with Him in heaven forever after. And, the Spirit and the Bride continually pray, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly! Come!”
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

No comments: