Friday, January 18, 2008

Water into Wine

Friday, January 18, 2008 -- Week of 1 Epiphany, Year A
(Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle)

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer)

EITHER: (Friday of 1 Epiphany, p. 943)
Psalms 16, 17 (morning) 22 (evening)
Genesis 6:1-8
Hebrews 3:12-19
John 2:1-12

OR: (Confession of St. Peter, p. 996)
Morning Prayer: Psalms 66, 67; Ezekiel 3:4-11; Acts 10:34-44
Evening Prayer: Psalm 118; Ezekiel 34:11-16; John 21:15-22

I read Friday of 1 Epiphany


For John, signs are important. In his Gospel there are signs that indicate the presence of God in and through the acts of Jesus. In the previous paragraph, Jesus has told Nathanael, "You will see greater things than these." Then Jesus accomplishes the first of his signs in John's Gospel.

The wedding hosts have run out of wine. Within the customs of the Middle East, such a situation would be terribly shaming for the hosts. Jesus' mother (consistently unnamed in John's Gospel) seeks Jesus' help. He is rather curt with her, saying that his "hour has not yet come." Nevertheless, she tells the servants to follow his instruction.

There are large stone jars of water present for the Jewish purification rites. (Their size and number is exaggerated, over 120 gallons of water. This is an extravagant sign.) Jesus turns the water into wine of superior quality. John comments that through this first sign, Jesus "revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."

The story is a wonderful metaphor for what Jesus brings to our lives. The presence and power of Jesus converts our tasteless, colorless existence. With his Spirit present, our lives become colorful, refreshing, surprising and filled with intoxicating energy. There is also the communal aspect of this miracle. Wine is meant to be enjoyed with others in the company of celebration.

Later Jesus will take the wine at dinner and identify it with his very life's blood, inviting us to partake inwardly of his living spirit. That act will become the characteristic act of Christian worship, uniting us with one another in a company of celebration.

(A postscript about the Genesis reading. Fascinating stuff. Chapter five chronicles ten generations from Adam and Eve to Noah. Each father giving birth to the son in this line of descendants at the age of sixty-five to one-hundred-eighty years. Each of these patriarchs are said to live for hundreds of years.

In chapter six we have this strange account of a violation of the boundary between heaven and earth. The "sons of God" saw that the human women were beautiful, and "they took wives for themselves." So God shortened the life-span of humans to one hundred twenty years.

Born to this mixed human and divine parentage were the "Nephilim," remembered as a superhuman race of warrior heroes. Such heroes are found in many other mythological traditions. I have a friend whose nicknamed his seminary basketball team the Nephilim. He created some smiles.)

Lowell

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About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html
The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org
Our Rule of Life:
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church

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