2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Season after the Epiphany

The Sundays after Epiphany continue to celebrate the revelation of the glory of God to us as it was made known to the magi and to those on Jordan's banks at the baptism of Jesus-today using wedding imagery. 

Our God rejoices over God's people "as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride." By the power of the Spirit there are gifts galore for everyone. In Christ Jesus the best wine is saved for last. 

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Gather yourself and those with whom you want to share in this time of worship and devotion, and settle in to a space and position where you can be comfortable yet alert.  

Take a few moments to simply breathe deeply, and to quiet down the here-and-there thoughts of your mind... a few moments to simply "be".

When you're ready to begin, pray:
Lord God, source of every blessing, you showed forth your glory and led many to faith by the works of your Son, who brought gladness and salvation to his people.  Transform me/us by the Spirit of his love, that I/we may find my/our life together in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Read this passage of scripture from the prophet Isaiah (consider reading out loud, even if you're by yourself):

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
   and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
   and her salvation like a burning torch. 
The nations shall see your vindication,
   and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
   that the mouth of the Lord will give. 
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
   and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
   and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
   and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
   and your land shall be married. 
For as a young man marries a young woman,
   so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
   so shall your God rejoice over you.
(Isaiah 62:1-5)

This is another prophetic text about the reconciliation of Jerusalem.  The people's return to Judah after the exile was marred by economic and political troubles.  Still, the prophet continues to look forward to the full restoration of Jerusalem.  God will rejoice over Jerusalem as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride; and the people are called to the celebration.  It is meant to indicate the depth of intimacy of the connection between the land, its inhabitants, and their creator.

Read also this passage from the gospel according to John (again, consider reading out loud, even if you're by yourself):

     On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 
     Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. 
     When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." 
     Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
(John 2:1-11)

Turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana is described as the first of Jesus' signs.  The servants fill six clay containers with water, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.  After protesting that it wasn't time for him to reveal himself as one possessing gifts of the Spirit, Jesus does it anyway.  It's also noted that the wine is quality stuff.  Through many such epiphanies, Jesus reveals that he bears God's creative power and joyful presence into the world.

First Light:  What feelings (not "thoughts" per se, but emotions) are evoked for you by this story of Jesus changing water into wine at the wedding feast?  What memories from your own life does it spark?  

Further Light: 
     This story is a "coming of age" of sorts for Jesus, who is living into one of his spiritual gifts: miracle working.  Clearly his mother already knows he can do this, so it may not be his first miracle.  But it is apparently the first he has performed in public (at least in John's version of the story).  He resists though, saying his time hasn't come.  But we have to wonder if it's not so much about his own readiness and more about the people's readiness.  After all, when he performs miracle later on, ti's generally to make a greater point.  The miracle itself isn't the endgame; they aren't special favors or party tricks.  Rather they're meant to help point people toward God.
     Also, he does sneak a lesson in here.  The act is an indication of how extravagant -- even unnecessarily so -- God's love and kingdom is.  Consider how much wine we're talking about here.  If he made 180 gallons' worth, that's about nine hundred bottles by our measures, or about 4,500 glasses.  And they've already been drinking!  
     We could take this one of several ways.  Some might say that this is Jesus saying God's kingdom is a party, our a cause for celebration.  Some more tongue-in-cheek suggestions have been that Jesus advocates getting hammered... although this seems to be stretching it a bit!  What he's likely saying here, especially to people who have experienced plenty of scarcity in their lives, is that there's no longer any need for worry about there being enough anymore in God's presence.
     There's enough of everything, including love.  It's a liberation of sorts from this idea that they need to be God's only chosen people, as if God's love has limits.  It's not unlike a parent explaining to a child who is about to have another sibling that having more people in the family to love doesn't diminish how much they are loved.  On the contrary, it actually broadens and enriches that love, as it comes from more sources and gives us more opportunities to return that love.
     Generally, human conflict comes from this sense of scarcity and the believe that we have to compete for what we need.  Were we to get just this point -- that there is and will always be enough in God's presence -- we could be agents of God's kingdom so much more readily.
     One could say that at Cana, in doing his first "sign," Jesus began his work of "kinging".  "Kinging" is a word and practice used among some Latin American communities, taking the noun "king" and turning it into action, into verb form, "kinging".  In Latin America, they envision the kingdom ruled by Christ as a place filled with signing, dancing, and feasting.  They believe the first responsibility of "kinging" is to allow God to turn the water of sadness, anxiety, stress, and emptiness into the wine of new life.  As they begin the new year, they invite each person in the community to make a new start.  But it is not enough to have your own water changed int wine.  A second feature is that you must seek the same for others.  The second aspect of kinging is to seek the welfare of others, to increase their station and joy of life.  It means to have direct responsibility for the least, the lost, and the last of one's community.
(Reflection based on material 
by Christian Piatt and by Robert S. Dannals)

Meditate on what you've heard as you read the words or listen to the music of the hymn "Jesus, Come! For We Invite You" (Tune:  UNION SEMINARY).  Consider praying the words as you read or listen.

Jesus, come! for we invite you, guest and master, friend and Lord;
now as once at Cana's wedding, speak and let us hear your word:
lead us through our need or doubting, hope be born and joy restored.

Jesus, come! transform our pleasures, guide us into paths unknown;
bring your gifts, command your servants, let us trust in you alone:
though your hand may work in secret, all shall see what you have done.

Jesus, come! in new creation, heav'n brought near in pow'r divine;
give your unexpected glory, changing water into wine:
rouse the faith of your disciples--come, our first and greatest Sign!

Jesus, come! surprise our dullness, make us willing to receive
more than we can yet imagine, all the best you have to give:
let us find your hidden riches, taste your love, believe, and live!

(Hymn text by Christopher Idle,1982)

Tune: UNION SEMINARY on organ
Tune: UNION SEMINARY on organ
(Click on preview picture to listen.
Unfortunately, this video only plays through 3 verses, rather than 4)

Think about those people and places near and dear to you that could use a few more obvious signs of God's abundance:  abundance of grace, abundance of peace, abundance of healing, abundance of transformation.  Lifting them all into God's presence, pray "Lord, have mercy."

Think about those people and places far and wide in our world that likewise could use a few more obvious signs of God's abundance:  abundance of life, abundance of reconciliation, abundance of wisdom, abundance of courage.   Lifting them all into God's presence, pray  "Lord, have mercy."

Think about those people and places known only to God, and give thanks for God's abundance of care already at work there too.

Holding all these, any other prayers, and yourself too, in God's light, pray as Jesus taught his disciples:

Our Father, who art in heaven, 
hallowed be Thy name; 
Thy kingdom come, 
Thy will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread; 
and forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors; 
and lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil: 
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and glory forever.  
Going Forth

Spend however much longer your heart desires in a place of meditation and contemplation.

When you are ready to end your time of devotion and worship, speak aloud the words from 2nd Corinthians 13 commonly known as "The Grace":

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,
be with us all
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