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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Revealing Love We can depend on God’s abundant love. Whether offering renewal to those without hope in Isaiah’s time or changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana, God gives us extravagant gifts. The abundant gifts of God’s Spirit work in the midst of the community of God’s beloved people to reveal Christ, then and now. John 2:1–11 In this miracle story unique to John’s gospel, Jesus’ ministry gains public awareness at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. The disciples are there, as is Jesus’ mother, Mary. (Note, however, that the gospel of John does not refer to Jesus’ mother by name.) The story itself begins simply enough, and there is no hint in the first few verses that a miracle is about to occur. Suddenly, “the wine gave out,” an embarrassing predicament for the hosts. Mary calls on Jesus to help. Scholars disagree over Jesus’ use of the term woman in Jesus’ reply to Mary. Some cite it as a term of respect, while others claim it would have been unusual for a son to refer to his mother in this way in that culture. Some scholars understand this dialogue symbolically, pointing to Communion, with the wine alluding to Jesus’ blood, and the “hour” referring to Jesus’ death. This brief conversation with Mary provides evidence to John’s readers that through Jesus, salvation is at hand. What is truly amazing in this story is the abundance of wine Jesus offers the wedding party. Imagine about 568 litres or 150 gallons of wine, and of the highest quality! Jesus provides the best wine at the end of the feast. This would have been unheard of in that time – a reversal of expectations. The steward is confused about the origin of the wine, though the servants who had drawn the water know. Through the turning of the water into wine, Jesus is revealed. This miracle speaks of God bringing extravagance and abundance into everyday activities. God’s glory is revealed and the disciples believe in Jesus. The world – or at least the world of this wedding party – has been turned around. Using the image of the wedding feast, Isaiah 62:1–5 reveals the abundant joy and love that God has for God’s people. The prophet is speaking a word of comfort to a hurting and desolate people, returning home after exile in Babylon. In Hebrew culture, a name offered clues to one’s identity. In receiving a new name from God, the people understand that their relationship with God is restored. Psalm 36:5–10 calls us to thankfulness for God’s rich abundance in all times and places. God’s unconditional love renews and restores us, even in our lowest moments. The psalmist makes generous use of the Hebrew word hesed, translated in the many phrases that refer to God’s unfailing, continuing love. God is calling us to be faithful and promises to be faithful to us. Centuries later, Paul echoes the words first spoken by the prophet and the psalmist: God brings abundance into our midst. For a church as diverse as the one in Corinth, these words about God’s renewal served as both a corrective and a mission. In 1 Corinthians 12:1–11, Paul reminds the Corinthians that although each one of them is different, they are united by God’s abundant Spirit. As God’s people, we live with an abundant spirit that stands in contrast to many of the world’s realities. We imagine hope where there seems to be none, for we are guided by faith in God’s unending love. The Season after the Epiphany is a good time to reflect upon the ways that God’s abundant love and Spirit are at work among us. In what ways does Jesus’ life and ministry reveal God’s abundance to you? In what ways does God continue to bring abundance into the world today?

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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