Is 62:1-5 (v. 4b) “Your (Jerusalem’s) land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her …”
Jn 2:1-11 (v. 11) “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”
Ps 36:5-10 (v. 7) “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”)
I Cor 12:1-11 (v. 4-6) “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.” (v. 11) “All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”
When people are visited by some notable person it means a lot to them. Examples may be the visit of a religious leader, a president, royalty, or a celebrity. When so visited, we may feel joyful, recognized, known, or significant. This is especially true if we are suffering in some way.
Comparably, during this time of the year we think of God visiting us in the incarnation of Jesus. We recall his birth, his being a refugee in Egypt, boyhood, baptism, and here, we read of Jesus visiting a wedding. He is amongst us in our ordinary life, as a friend of us sinners. It is a way we can see that God recognizes us, knows us, loves us, cares for us, and calls us by name.
EMPTY STONE JARS
Our New Year may contain some hard realities, similar to the stone jars which appear in our Gospel reading this morning.
–A scenario of possible war, worsening environmental issues, like earthquakes, drought, or floods.
—School year: Perhaps challenges may fill us with apprehension and dismay.
–Working year: whether we will have a job; wonder about how to deal with finance and other matters connected with retirement; wonder about the significance of our work; wonder about how happy we are in our work; wonder about whether this work is really what we should be doing; or wonder about relationships in our place of work.
–Relational issues, including marriage, children, parents or bereavement. Will the correct decisions be made? How will they be paid for?
–Finances: Over-commitments from before, compounded by the high expenses ahead
These hard issues could all be personal or organizational.
RESURRECTION AND PREMIER QUALITY WINE
In our gospel reading, there is the replacement of the water in the stone jars by the wine of Jesus.
The gospel reading’s allusion to our lives is this: That in our human life we have reached the point that we have nothing which satisfies us. With the arrival of the messianic wedding feast, that is, the arrival of Jesus time in our lives, all becomes the choicest of wines and that in overwhelming abundance.
Like the disciples, we were called individually and we followed: now we see ever greater signs (1:50-51) of his messianic power in our lives.
In this gospel, through Jesus, we become clear about the purpose of our own creation (1:1f). Following 1 Cor 12:1-11, through Jesus, we become clear about the individual gifts and contribution of each person.
How do these things emerge and take place? They emerge and occur through doing whatever he tells us to do (2:5), just as Jesus does what God tells him to do, and says what God tells him to say. Martin Luther King is a great modern example of someone doing what Jesus told him to do and say.
In the Gospel of John, a few of the things that Jesus tells us to do are these: Believe in me; receive Holy Communion (John 6); take care of one another (in the last supper).
We do whatever he tells us to amidst the realities of our own failures, be they small or great. In and for this, we (like the woman/ Mary/ Eve) receive (ch. 19) the broken body of Jesus himself.
We have resources for the uncertainties and stone jar realities of year ahead. These resources are like rich, high quality wine. These resources include the following:
–The person of Jesus–his glory—and our belief in him. As an individual, we can and do rest in him, and have confidence in him.
–knowing what he wants through regular prayer and meditation on the word of God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together p. 71) said “The prayer of the morning will determine the day.”
— our community of faith, as beloved of Jesus Christ and resource for the God’s mission to the world through Jesus.
–the specific relationships in our lives. Even Abraham Lincoln and Frederic Douglass “understood that former enemies may become future friends and vice versa…. In order to achieve transformation, they needed to forgive their former enemies of wrongdoing and credit them with the potential for change” (John Stauffer Giants p. 292).
–the resource of forward orientation: believing, knowing, and expecting that ‘the best is yet to come.’ God is busy in our lives and in history with things beyond comprehension. Isa 62:11 See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him and his recompense before him.
Like M. L. King, moving forward, instead of being gripped by sadness or anxiety, we can dream and work and “sing a new song” (Ps 96:1). We rejoice because we “shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of God” (Isa 62:1-5).