Homily

Reverend Bruce MacDuffie

January 16, 2022

2d Sunday after the Epiphany, January 16, 2022,

sermon notes.  Scripture: Isaiah 62:1-5.  (we won’t be termed forsaken but be a crown of beauty ….you shall be called My Delight is in here…you God will rejoice over you.   Psalm 36:5-10; you save all your creatures O God; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.  Gifts given by the Spirit to St. Luke’s community.  All of them gifgts, not achievements,  John 2:1-11.  Water into wine.  Mary.  Jesus obedient son.  Hymns:  Christ whose glory fills the skies “Fill me radiancy divine; scatter all my un belief; more and more thy self display, shining to the perfect day.

Sequence hymn 506 from Hymnal 1982, Praise the Spirit in creation.   Offertory 135 – Songs of thankfulness and praise.  Communion: I want to walk as a child of the light.  Closing:371.  Thou whose almighty word chaos and darkness heard.

 

Sermon text before oral editing:

 

What precious jewels you are! 

 

Jesus, I need you to turn my feelings of longing into gratitude. 

 

HAVING KEPT THOSE OF YOU WHO TRIED TO ATTEND CHURCH LAST SUNDAY OUTSIDE, WE DID NOT TOGETHER CELEBRATE THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND MY PLANNED CELEBRATION OF EACH OF OUR BAPTISMS.  SO I’M GOING TO TRY TO CELEBRATE BOTH JESUS BAPTISM AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR US AS WELL AS OUR INDIVIDUAL BAPTISMS.  INTO THE BARGAIN, I’M GOING TO TRY IN THIS TALK NOT TO NEGLECT THE SECOND SIGN JOHN DEPICTS SHOWING FORTH JESUS IDENTITY, NAMELY, THE ACT OF FURNISHING A WEDDING IN CANA OF GALILEE WITH HIGH QUALITY WINE ON THE PART OF JESUS, IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS MOTHER’S REQUEST. SHE WAS A GUEST AT THIS WEDDING FEAST.  FIRST TO THE WEDDING.

        THE WEDDING OCCURRED ON WHAT JOHN’S GOSPEL CALLS “THE THIRD DAY.” JOHN SEQUENCES JESUS MOVEMENT INTO HIS MINISTRY AS SEQUENCE OF EVENTS.  THE FIRST WAS JOHN THE BAPTIST TALKING ABOUT JESUS.  THE SECOND IS JESUS CALLING HIS DISCIPLES.  ANDREW AND SIMON ARE SIMPLY ATTRACTED TO FOLLOW JESUS.  JESUS SPEAKS TO THEM FIRST, ASKING WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR.  “WHERE ARE YOU STAYING,” THEY ASK HIM.  JESUS INVITES THEM TO COME AND SEE, AND THEY STAY WITH HIM FOR THE REST OF THE DAY. 

       THE LAST SUCH CALL IN THIS PART OF JOHN IS TO NATHANIEL WHO IS IN WONDER THAT JESUS KNEW HIM SPIRITUALLY AND INTIMATELY ALREADY, UPON SEEING HIM.  NATHANIEL DECLARES HIS WONDER DECLARING “RABBI, YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD.  YOU ARE THE KING OF ISRAEL.”(Jn. 1:49). 

JESUS REPLIES TO HIM,”DO YOU BELIEVE BECAUSE I TOLD YOU THAT I SAW YOU UNDER THE FIG TREE?  YOU WILL SEE GREATER THINGS THAN THESE.  VERY TRULY I TELL YOU, YOU WILL SEE HEAVEN OPENED AND THE ANGELS OF GOD ASCENDING AND DESCENDING UPON THE SON OF MAN.”(Jn. 1:51-52)

           THIS THIRD DAY IS A FULFILLMENT OF JESUS WORDS TO NATHANIEL.  THE STORY OF THE WEDDING IS REPORTED ONLY IN JOHN’S GOSPEL, NOT IN THE SYNOPTICS, MATTHEW, MARK, AND LUKE.  THAT DOES NOT REDUCE ITS IMPORTANCE!  WE BEGIN TO KNOW JESUS. 

AT THE WEDDING IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT THE MOTHER OF JESUS WAS THERE!  THIS IS MENTIONED FIRST AND THE FACT THAT JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES HAS ALSO BEEN IINVITED SOUNDS A LITTLE LIKE AN INVITE OF LESSER IMPORTANCE THAN THAT OF THE MOTHER OF JESUS.  SHE WAS THERE, WHILE JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES WERE SIMPLY ALSO INVITED.

    WAS JESUS MOTHER SOME SORT OF MANAGER OF THE WEDDING FEAST?

BE IT NOTED HERE, THAT IN JOHN MARY IS NOT NAMED.  SHE IS ALWAYS REFERRED TO AS THE “MOTHER OF JESUS.”

        WHAT A POTENTIAL EMBARRASSMENT FOR A WEDDUBG FEASTTO HAVE NO WINE.  THE MOTHER OF JESUS TELLS HER SON THAT THEY HAVE NO WINE.  JESUS RESPONSE SOUNDS KIND OF BRASH.  LIKE AN ADULT SON WHO IS AT THE STAGE OF LIFE WHERE HE KNOWS BETTER THAN HIS PARENTS.   DOUBTLESS ALL OF US HERE HAVE BEEN AT THAT STAGE.  I USED TO KNOW HOW AND WHERE MY PARENTS OUGHT TO LIVE  AND WONDERED THAT THEY HAD NO WOOD STOVE.  I PROCEEDED TO INSTALL ONE IN THEIR HOUSE AND SUPPLY THEM WITH STOVE WOOD.

        DESPITE HIS SEEMINGLY BRASH RESPONSE: WOMAN - HE DOESN’T EVEN ADDRESS HER AS ”MOTHER” - NOT EVEN MOTHER AS A TITLE BUT WOMAN AND WE ALL KN OW A LITTLE OF THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN THAT NEW TESTAMENT WORLD….”WOMAN, WHAT CONCERN IS THAT OF YOURS.  “

      BUT JESUS MOTHER WAS SO CONFIDENT OF HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HER THAT, EVEN WITH THAT ALMOST DISMISSIVE RESPONSE BY JESUS, SHE TELLS  THE SERVANTS: “DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU.”  AND JESUS PROCEEDED TO TELL THEM TO FILL THOSE 20 TO30 GALLON JARS WITH WATER.  THEY DID SO, TO THE BRIM!

       HE TOLD THEM TO DRAW OUT SOME OF WHAT THEY THOUGHT WOULD BE WATER AND TAKE IT TO THE STEWARD FOR HIS APPROVAL.  IT WAS A SUPERB WINE.  LIKE AN EXCELLENT MALBEC.  OR A VERMONT BOLTON VALLEY BARN RED.  I WONDER IF TODAY IT WOULD HAVE HAD A TOUCH OF MAPLE IN IT. 

        THIS FIRST OF HIS SIGNS, NOT CALLED A MIRACLE BUT A SIGN, IN CANA OF GALILEE REVEALED HIS GLORY.   IT REVEALED THAT GOD BECOME FLESHLY HUMAN CAN MEET A HUMAN NEED FOR A RELATIONAL ESSENTIAL.  NOT A NEED FOR THIRST QUENCHING IN AN ARID WATERLESS DESSERT TIME BUT RATHER FOR THE SUCCESS OF A MARRIAGE FEAST.  SEEING THIS MARVEL OF GOD VALUING ORDINARY HUMAN NEED AND COMMUNAL LIFE EXPERIENCE DOES INDEED REVEAL JESUS GLORY.  AFTER ALL, WHY SHOULD BE WHO WAS ONLY AN “ALSO INVITED” WITH HIS DISCIPLES, WHY SHOULD HE BOTHER WITH SOMETHING SO MUNDANE?  BUT HE DID.  AND SO THEY BELIEVED. THEY FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS JESUS.

        BELIEVED.  DOES IT REFER TO AN INTELLECTUAL ACT AFTER BEING GIVEN SCIENTIFIC OR HISTORICAL TRUTH?   OR IS IT MORE A FALLING IN LOVE IN WONDER AT THIS JESUS.

      MARCUS BORG, WHO DIED SIX YEARS AGO, OFTEN SUBSTIUTED THE WORD “BELOVE” FOR “BELIEVE.”  

        WE CELEBRATE THAT BELOVING AS WE LOOK BACK TO LAST SUNDAY AND THE BAPTISM OF JESUS.  WE CELEBRATE KNOWING NOT ONLY THAT JESUS IS DECLARED GOD’S BELOVED SON, BUT THAT WE AS WELL ARE DECLARED BELOVED AND JOINED TO JESUS BAPTISM AS GOD’S BELOVEDS.  WE ARE TAKEN AS WE ARE AS JESUS DID WITH SO MANY DURING HIS MINISTRY, AND HIS  HEALING SPREAD AMONG US ALL AS WE IN COMMUNITY SHARE THAT LOVE OF GOD FOR YOU, THE LOVE OF GOD FOR ME, FOR US, AND FOR THEM.

      HOW IT MUST BREAK NOT ONLY OUR HEARTS BUT GOD’S HEART TO WITNESS THE SLAUGHTER OF PROTESTORS IN KAZAKHSTAN; THE HOSTAGE TAKING AT BETH ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE NEAR DALLAS YESTERDAY; THE VICTIMS OF FIRES IN COLORADO LAST WEEK; THE DESTRUCTION OF GOD’S CREATION IN HUMAN CAUSED GLOBAL WARMING.   AND HOW BLESSED ARE WE TO B E PART OF THE HEALING MINISTRY OF JESUS AS WE WORK ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND POVERTY AND HONESTY AND TRUTH IN OUR POLITICAL LIVES. 

       HOW BLESSED IS OUR EARTH AND OUR COMMUNITY THAT OTHER BELOVEDS BELOVED US INTO BAPTISM.  JOINED US TO JESUS BAPTISM.   SO TODAY, A WEEK AFTER THE CELEBRATION OF JESUS BAPTISM, WE GIVE THANKS FOR THOSE WHO BROUGHT US TO BAPTISM AND THE COMMUNITIES LIKE ST. LUKE’S THAT ADOPTED US WHOLLY AND FULLY!

            SO I WOULD ASK US TO SHARE B RIEFLY, EACH OF US AROUND THIS ZOOM GALLERY, WHAT WE KNOW OF OUR OWN BAPTISMS AND WHO BROUGHT US.  JUST NAME THE PLACE AND DATE TO THE EXTENT THAT YOU KNOW THEM.   AND THEN WE WILL MOVE INTO THE RENEWAL OF OUR BAPTISMAL VOWS AND A PRAYER OF THANKS.  BUT FIRST I HAVE A STORY TO TELL:  STORY OF NAJENYI AND THEN WE WILL MOVE ON TO EACH OF US TO EACH OF US NAMING THE PLACE AND COMMUNITY THAT BROUGHT US TO BAPTISM.  

         IN LATE SUMMER 2018 9 YEAR OLD NAJENYI DOMINGEZ LOPEZ WITH HER 29 YEAR OLD MOTHER CAME TO LIVE WITH US WHILE THEY SOUGHT ASYLUM FROM MURDEROUS LIFE IN HONDURAS.  NAJENYI AND MARIE AND 4 YR OLD MONTSERRAT STAYED WITH US ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF BEFORE MOVING TO BE CLOSE TO BROTHER IN FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA.  LAST SPRING NAJENYI, NOW 13 YEARS OLD, EMAILED ASKING IF SHE COULD COME FOR A VISIT LAST SUMMER.  SHE CAME AND STAYED A MONTH.  ON AUGUST 19 AS WE SAT IN SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, UNION STATION WAITING FOR HER TO BOARD THE TRAIN TO WASHINGTON, DC, NAJENYI BURST OUT: “MY MOTHER AND I HAVE BEEN WANTING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT BAPTISM.” SHE ADDED SOMETHING UNCLEAR ABOUT HER MOTHER SAYING NAJENYI WAS MY GOD CHILD.  (NOT IN TERMS OF BAPTISM).  SO WE AGREED TO PLAN AHEAD THIS WINTER FOR A TIME WHEN HER MOTHER COULD GET THREE DAYS OFF OF WORK FOR THEM TO COME OVER A SUNDAY FOR BAPTISM.  IF THEY COME THIS SPRING OR WHILE I AM ENGAGED WITH ST. LUKE’S, WE’LL ASKED YOUR PERMISSION TO BAPTIZE HER AMONG YOU.

SHE ONLY KNOWS ST. LUKE’S FROM ENJOYING THAT SUMMER MEAL YOU SERVE BACK IN 2019. 

    NOW, ABOUT YOUR BAPTISMS.  PLEASE WE WILL CIRCULATE AROUND THE ZOOM GALLERY FOR YOU TO NAME WHERE AND ROUGHLY WHEN YOU WERE BAPTIZED, AS MUCH AS YOU KNOW.  TO GIVE THANKS FOR THOSE WHO BROUGHT YOU TO BAPTISM.

    THE NAMING OCCURS HERE

OF THE FOUR OF US ZOOMING TODAY, TWO OF US WERE BAPTIZED IN ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCHES (Hartford, CT, and Perkinsville, VT), one in a Presbyterian church in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and one in a Methodist Church in Tribune, Kansas). 

ONCE WE ARE THROUGH NAMING, WE RECITE THE RWENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL VOWS.  AND MOVE ON  WITH THE REST OF THE SERVICE.