January 14, 2019
What wine of love is offered here,
what crimson drink from heaven?
What stream of everlasting life,
what precious blood is given?
This, this is Christ the king,
the sweetest wine of heaven.
Oh, taste and see and sing!
The Son of God is given!
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #487]
The lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, January 20, 2019, the Second Sunday after Epiphany, are as follows:
This week's readings are filled with wedding imagery, and I confess to you that, as a pastor, I would ten times choose to preside at a funeral over a wedding.
Not that I don't enjoy weddings, but the pastor at a wedding functions more like a prop in a performance. Oftentimes, we are thought to be in the way - especially in the way of the photographer who insists that the sanctuary is his or her creative arts studio and wants to jump all around the room to get the perfect photo, even if it is at the altar behind the pastor. I can't tell you how many verbal battles I've had with photographers who show no respect for the sanctity of the worship space.
I could tell you dozens of stories about weddings - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Every married couple has stories to tell about their own wedding. Most of those stories center around the reception because, unless something unusual happens, most people hardly remember what went on at the church.
 The Wedding at Cana -- Jesus Mafa
So the Gospel reading from John for this coming Sunday is the story about the wedding feast in Cana, which Jesus, his mother, and the disciples attended, and at which Jesus performed his first sign. What a sign it was!
Jesus converts six stone jars of water into somewhere between 120 to 180 gallons of wine!

As an aside, this makes for a great children's sermon. Put a few drops of red food coloring in an empty glass (cover the bottom with your hand, of course), take another glass full of water, pour it into the empty glass, and listen to the adults gasp "WOW!" with amazement. The kids are usually the cynical audience, realizing that it's a trick.
 The Wedding at Cana -- Bernat Martorell
 (Spain - 15th Century) Art Institute of
The point of the story and why it appears in this Epiphany season is that this sign reveals (the meaning of epiphany) to us something about Jesus' divine nature as well as the unique relationship between him and his heavenly Father. This sign, along with the many others in the Gospel according to John, also tell us that Jesus is God doing the works of God so that we might believe and have faith.
God cares about us and our relationship with him. That is why God uses marriage as an image when speaking about relationship with us. We belong in a special relationship with God. God's loving care and concern for us never ends. Any weakness in the relationship is on our side. We hurt God in many different ways, but God never gives up - because God never stops loving us.
Both relationships are unique and special - a marriage relationship, and a person's relationship with God. I use that comparison often in a wedding sermon but, as I stated earlier, nobody pays attention at a wedding, so that's why you're reading a scaled down version of my usual wedding sermon today.
God doesn't give up on the bride - God's people. We may give up on people rather than waste our time, but God's love never gives up reaching out to people. God's love is unconditional. We are the bride God loves to spoil.
Tuesday, January 15, the church commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr., Renewer of Society. He was born on this date in 1929. Some traditions recognize the date of his death - April 4 - which is more liturgically appropriate. In the United States, the federal holiday is celebrated the third Monday in January, this year being the 21 st , and our offices are closed for the day.
I mention that to also highlight that the annual commemoration service for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sponsored by the Northeastern Ohio Synod and the African Descent Lutheran Association, will be held this coming Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 3:30 pm., at Holy Trinity, Akron. In years past this service was held in various locations in the Cleveland area, but has been moved with the hope of broadening its awareness in the synod.
The guest speaker is The Rev. Dr. Charles Tyler, Sr., Pastor at Wesley Temple African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Akron and Akron District Presiding Elder for the AME Zion Church.
Friday, January 18, the church commemorates the Confession of Peter, when he acknowledged Jesus at "the son of the living God."
This date also begins The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which concludes with the Conversion of St. Paul on January 25.
The Northeastern Ohio Synod Council meets this coming Saturday, January 19, at Christ Lutheran Church in Massillon.
I'll make one final mention of this announcement to rostered leaders that it's time to complete your annual reports. The link and instructions are available on our Wednesday e-news, or you can access the form by clicking [here].
It is also time for congregations to fill out congregation reports. Report forms are now available on the ELCA website, [here].
Because of the federal holiday, our offices will be closed next Monday, so Monday Musings will publish on Tuesday, January 21.
This week and always, may you be filled with the Spirit of God's priceless love, that you may feast upon God's abundance.
+Bishop Abraham Allende