Second Sunday after Epiphany January 16, 2022
Commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Martyr and Renewer of Society
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Saint John 2:1-11
In nomine Jesu!
Beginning today and for the next eight weeks, we are going to see Jesus do two “Gospel” things and through the Gospel Jesus will be inviting us to do those “Gospel” things too.
First, Jesus will consistently proclaim in word and action that there is always enough with some to spare.
Second, will Jesus consistently step over any exclusionary line human beings draw.
The gospels present each of these acts of Jesus as Good News. The Gospel invites Jesus’ disciples (that would be us), indeed, authorizes and empowers us, to “go and do likewise.”
A theology of abundance, over against the myth of scarcity. A theology of inclusion, over against a theology of purity.
John the Evangelist tells us that the story of what happened at a wedding in Cana, is the first of Jesus’ signs which “revealed his glory.” So let’s look a bit more closely at today’s Gospel portion.
First and foremost, the way Jesus acts to proclaim the reality of abundance is almost comical. Let’s face it, 6 20–30-gallon jars filled with wine (that’s 180 or so gallons), made available after the guests have already consumed the first, bridegroom-supplied wine servings are enough to make every attending villager incredibly happy! But that’s not the point the Evangelist is trying to make; this is not about “wine,” this is about abundance; about God providing enough, and some to spare, for all. The party isn’t over. No one has to leave. In this story, Jesus overturns the whole notion that some will have to do without. If we miss the whole concept of abundance here, if we try to explain it away here, John tells us of six more “signs” Jesus will give to show that abundance, enough for all with some to spare, is not an illusion but a reality. One of those signs is the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. Another is the raising of Lazarus.
(Spoiler alert: we’ll have all of Lent to hear about the other four.)
Jesus invites his disciples to follow his example, to proclaim a “theology of abundance,” because “on earth as it is in heaven,” that’s very much a part of what being in the presence of Jesus – living in the kingdom of God – is all about.
In order to proclaim God’s abundance at Cana’s wedding feast, Jesus deliberately steps over several human drawn lines. First there’s the line between guest and giver, still prevalent in middle eastern cultures today. In his response to his mother, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?” Jesus acknowledges this human-drawn line. Then, immediately, he steps right over it. This is the same thing Jesus does at every Eucharist. We invite him to be our guest “come, Lord Jesus.” He acknowledges our invitation and comes to us as “Giver divine.”
But wait! There’s more! It’s about those jars. “Rites of purification” exist in that culture for the unclean, for those excluded from the community. Jesus re-purposes the jars! Jesus not only steps over the indelible line between “clean and unclean,” he erases it thereby making clear that No one can be separated from God’s love! No one can be kept out of the party!
But the most amazing thing of all happens when Jesus steps over that line and reveals the truth about abundance versus scarcity. We hear in the steward’s words: “Everyone serves the good wine first, you have kept the best until now.” That, dear friends, is the Gospel. When Jesus reveals God’s overflowing abundance, when Jesus crosses every exclusionary line, what results can only be labeled “best.”
John ends this story with these words, “his disciples believed in him.” That’s about us. That’s about God’s call, and the Gospel-given authority and power God gives us to “go and do likewise:” Proclaim the reality, in word and deed, that scarcity is a myth, and that God provides enough, with some to spare, for all. Proclaim the reality of the inclusion of all by following Jesus as he steps over every human-drawn line of exclusion. Proclaim by our words and deeds that the kingdom of God is present now “on earth as in heaven.”
Whatever you think of Martin Luther King, Jr., this is true: like those wedding-guest-disciples to whom Jesus “revealed his glory and [they] believed him, Dr. King Experienced and acted on the same. He told us as much in his final sermon: “I’m not afraid of anything,” he said. “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”
Here at this table we see that glory too, so that we can go and do likewise.