The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

Introduction to the readings for January 17, 2016

During the season of Epiphany, we re-visit some of the ancient texts reminding us of the good news of the gift of Jesus, sent to us like a dawning star in the midst of darkness and turmoil.  In the face of scarcity and fear, Jesus’ followers learn firsthand about how God’s Spirit can be extravagantly and abundantly shared in community.

We begin with these familiar verses of the Apostle Paul’s letter to those first followers of the church at Corinth.  Here he reminds them of how the Spirit’s gifts are poured out on all for the sake of the common good.

1Corinthians 12: verses 1-11 “Different kinds of Spiritual Gifts but the same Spirit

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.  You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak.  Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

The bridge between our two readings this morning remind us of this:  At Epiphany God invites us to live in ways that confront and contradict the values of secular culture. 

Let us remain seated as we turn to More Voices #138 and sing together “My Love Colours Outside the Lines”.

In keeping with a new calendar year and a new season in the church year, we re-visit another familiar story about movement away from the tried and true, the safe and familiar into new expressions of life and of love shared in community. 

Listen with care to how a fresh hearing of this familiar story might inform your awareness of God’s glory at work here and now in own community of the faithful.

Reading from the second chapter of the gospel according to John 2: verses 1-11, we have the story of “The Miracle of the wedding at Cana”

“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 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.”

Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.  Thanks be to God.