Readings and Reflection for January 16, 2022

Isaiah 62:1-5

Isaiah’s Prayer for Jerusalem

Because I love Zion,
    I will not keep still.
Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem,
    I cannot remain silent.
I will not stop praying for her
    until her righteousness shines like the dawn,
    and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
The nations will see your righteousness.
    World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
And you will be given a new name
    by the Lord’s own mouth.
The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—
    a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”
    or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”
    and “The Bride of God,”
for the Lord delights in you
    and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
    just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
    as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Psalm 36:5-10

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
    How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
    in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
    letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see.

10 Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
    give justice to those with honest hearts.

1Corinthians 12:1-11

Spiritual Gifts

Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this. You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

John 2:1-11

The Wedding at Cana

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”

“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”

11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Reflection

In John 2 we find the story of Jesus attending a wedding in Cana, a town north of Nazareth.  At a given point in the festivities, his mother said to him "they are out of wine".  The implication is that she is asking him to do something about it, but that is not expressed in the text.   Mary simply states what she has observed.    

In response, Jesus says to his mother: "What does that have to do with you or me?"    Was he suggesting that as a guest it was not his worry?   Was he being rude to his mom?  Or was there something in their facial expressions to one another than we cannot see or know?     

But then Jesus says, mysteriously, "my time has not yet come".  This would imply that he was not ready to draw the attention of others.   Or was he?  I can imagine his mother looking at him for more than a few seconds (if only we could see her expression!), and then turning to the servants at the wedding feast, to say "Do whatever he tells you."     

She was direct with him (as any mom with her son), and he also with her.   Their conversation implies a trust between them, as well as respect. What follows is more mysterious.   It says 6 large stone water jars were close by ~ each of which could hold 20 to 30 gallons (90 to 120 litres).  When Jesus told the servants to fill them to the brim, they did.  Immediately afterwards, he asked them to take a sample of the water in the jars to the banquet master.   At this point, it becomes clear that the water is now wine ~ of the highest quality.      

John says this was the first of seven "signs" Jesus did. Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:1-11 - "the first of the signs"
Healing the royal official's son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15
Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24
Healing the man blind from birth in John 9:1-7
The raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45
The eighth sign would be the resurrection of Jesus in John 20.   

Is there is a crescendo of meaning through these "signs", pointing to the mystery in Jesus?   John said that "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which were not recorded in the book.  But these are written down that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." ~ Jn 20:30-31  

But back to our story at the wedding in Cana.      When Jesus changed the water into wine in the 6 large stone jars, he made such a large quantity for everyone in town to drink wedding toasts for several days!   What meaning could this miracle point to?   
(1)  Many Bible readings use wedding imagery to refer to the closeness of God's relationship with his people.   
(2)  Wine reflects the joy of God's presence with his people.   

Perhaps this “sign” shows Jesus as the one to renew the joyful relationship God wants to have with his people....     While a wedding involves solemn words, promises given and received, and the high emotion of love expressed in a few poignant tears, everyone looks forward to the wedding party.  And now, in his first public action, Jesus is the one who makes it happen!     

If Jesus is the one inviting you to a boisterous party to celebrate God’s presence with us, how do we see God now?