Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Readings for Second Sunday after Epiphany, 1/20/13:
Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11

Isaiah 62:1-5:
  • Again, this passage speaks in hopefulness of the joy that will come when the people are freed from captivity and return to home from Babylon. How do we retain hope after such a long time when nothing is changing?
  • "You shall no longer be termed Forsaken." These words strike me as particularly comforting to one who has decided to turn to God after a time of struggle, or in the midst of struggle. God does not forsake us!
  • The imagery of marriage in the scriptures, such as in verses 4-5 here, is a struggle today because the way marriage is portrayed is usually so male-centered and patriarchally slanted. God is portrayed as the ultimate man, ready to take us as the lovely bride, made special by being chosen by the groom. We have to be careful to extract the meaning of the passage without walking away with the baggage of these marriage stereotypes too.
Psalm 36:5-10:
  • The first part of this Psalm, which is not part of the lectionary passage, talks about evil doers, how they reject good, and reject God.
  • The second part, this Sunday's passage, is very pretty. The focus is on God, and God's attributes related to faithfulness: steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, judgments.
  • This psalm has some intriguing imagery. v. 6b says, "you save human and animals alike, O Lord." What does that mean, exactly? I'm really not sure, but my vegetarian soul has hope!
  • "All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings." Emphasis mine. Comfort! Do we believe that? Live that?
  • V. 9 - "For with you is the fountain of life". Not the fountain of youth, but the fountain of life from which we draw is in itself enough to call for our thanks to God.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11:
  • This passage, and the following week's passage from Corinthians, are great passages for congregations. No matter how many times we say that everyone has a ministry, a call to follow from God, it seems our congregants don't really believe that God means them. We will be using these two weeks to do a spiritual gifts inventory in our congregation, or at least spring off from these two weeks of texts. How can we get people to believe that God has blessed, gifted, and called them?
  • The hymn "Many Gifts, One Spirit" is perfect for this occasion, and will bring the message home. Some lyrics: "In our difference is blessing, from diversity we praise One Giver, One Lord, One Spirit, One Word, known in many ways, hallowing our days. For the giver, for the gifts, praise, praise, praise!"
  • Speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues. I can't help but feel that most modern-day incarnations of speaking in tongues miss the mark somewhat. After all, the beauty of the speaking in tongues recorded in Acts 2 was that everyone could understand the good news in their own language, not that no one could understand anything at all...
John 2:1-11:
  • This passage is usually considered Jesus' first miracle. Interestingly, opponents of same-sex union also call Jesus' attendance at a wedding his endorsement of marriage as between a man and a woman. I don't find that a very strong argument, personally.
  • "And they filled them up to the brim." I still vividly remember a sermon a heard from a pastor in Delaware, OH, where i attended undergrad, on this passage. She spoke about the manifestation of gifts in our lives. That we were filled, by God, with gifts and blessing, to the very brim. Perhaps today we can picture the ads they play for fast food or movie theatre drinks, where they show the fizzing soda just barely stopping in time to not go over the edge of the glass. This is how full God makes our lives!
  • V. 10 - "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." Many focus on the miracle itself as the point of this passage, but I am caught up in this verse here. Isn't this how God intervenes in our lives? Isn't this how God acts in history? Blessing upon blessing - we don't use up God's love and blessings in childhood - God walks with us for our whole journey, often saving some of the best fo last. God doesn't want to cheat us out of any of the goodness of life, but let us experience it all fully, all of our days.
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