Summary: A sermon for the second Sunday after the Epiphany
2nd Sunday after the Epiphany
"A young couple, who were new Christians, suffered a terrible financial setback due to a disabling illness of the husband. The wife found work, but her income barely made a dent in the mountain of bills. They lived in constant prayer, praying that somehow they would be given the strength and courage to live in this brokenness. They prayed for deliverance, they prayed for a sign of hope and they prayed with hope that somehow there would be a light at the end of this long tunnel!.
One day they had no food. No one knew that their refrigerator and cupboards were practically bare. During the day, an uncle arrived carrying two bags of groceries and boxes filled with canned goods. After he finished carrying them in, he sat down at the table and said, "I don’t know why, but I just felt that you could use these things " They thanked him, hugged him and he left with a smile on his face and a promise in his heart that he would check in on them again real soon."
John says in our gospel lesson: "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him." A sign is something addressed to the senses to attest the existence of a divine power. A sign points to God’s glory among us. A sign uses elements of our world to point to God’s presence, God’s glory among us. A sign, water to wine, a sign, bread and wine, Jesus’ body and blood, a sign, water, cleansing, new birth, a sign, groceries coming out of now where. God’s signs of his presence are all around us. As God’s children, God has been signing us, showing us His presence, showing us his presence among us in many different ways.
Our gospel lesson is the first of these signs of God’s presence through Jesus in the world. A most confusing sign changing water to wine, but never-the-less a sign pointing to the glory of God . Jesus was attending a wedding, which in his day was a major festival. The bride and groom would return to the groom’s house after the brie! ceremony and celebrate with their friends as long as a week. During the celebration, the wine ran out. Mary, being a friend’ ofthe family found out and depending upon her eldest son as she usually did since Joseph died, goes to him with the problem. His response on the surface may seem abrupt, and rude, but it really isn’t because the English doesn’t translate the Greek or Aramaic very well. I don’t know what Mary thought Jesus could do? Maybe find some more wine, maybe try to substitute something else. But she turned to Jesus for help, Jesus answers "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." A strange answer, but on further examination, not so strange. The word woman is translated better, lady, or dear woman, a sign of respect and honor. The rest can be better translated, "Don’t worry; you don’t quite understand what is going on; leave things to me, and I will settle them in my own way."
Jesus knew his hour, had not yet come. He knew it would be awhile before he would die. He also knew he must live his life to God’s will and direction. And so to begin that process of showing people God’s plan, God’s salvation, God’s redemption in the world, he takes an embarrassing situation, no wine and turns it into a time of joy and happiness. He redeems the situation. Now wine was used in Jesus’ day as an acceptable drink because the water was so foul. But drunkenness was not acceptable. Each drank in moderation.
A side note. Did you know that many countries today use wine as the acceptable drink because of their foul water, but the U.S. which has the most clean water available to its people, has the most problems with the abuse of alcohol?
As John wrote, this was the first of many signs Jesus used to help the disciples, the people to believe in his mission, his purpose on earth. Just as Jesus changes water into wine, he came to change people, to make them pure and holy, acceptable to God. And those signs of God’s presence, God’s presence which changes and redeems us are still with us, water, bread, wine, the word, people, a handshake, a greeting of love, a smile, a forgiving embrace all are signs of God’s presence with us as he continues to show us signs of his love.
A pastor tells the following, "The Church of the Saviour in Washington understood the power of God’s signs among them. A girl named Meg came to the church one Sunday morning. She listened intently to the sermon, sang with joy the hymns and began to feel a happiness and purpose to her life which had not been there. Something inside led her to that church that morning. After the service, the people greeted her, welcomed her. She learned they were interested in her as a person. They learned she was living of life of alcoholism and prostitution and her marriage to a war - veteran was falling apart so much so that her husband tried to commits suicide. The people, some who had been in the same situation began to care and work with Meg. Some helped her with her drinking problem. Some listened to Meg and her husband, as they worked out their marriage difficulties. Others helped Meg get a job and others helped her husband become rehabilitated from his war injury. In time, Meg’s life and her husband’s were changed, transformed, redeemed and rescued from the brokenness of this world. Meg said later, ’At first I thought these people were crazy. Then I didn’t care what they were. I suddenly wanted what they had.’"