Friday, January 07, 2011

The First Miracle

Friday, January 7, 2010 -- Epiphany, Year 1

To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:
http://liturgyandmusic.wordpress.com/category/holy-women-holy-men/

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 942)
Psalms 103 (morning)       114, 115 (evening)
Isaiah 52:3-6
Revelation 2:1-7
John 2:1-11

Abundance, intoxicating joy, celebration, community, happiness.  The first miracle is also called Jesus' first sign in John's gospel.  Jesus turned the water into wine.

Plain, thin, ordinary water.  Gallons of it in large jars for the purification of the ritual baths.  For cleansing that which has become dirty.  The numbers in John's account describe 120 to 180 gallons of water.  Lots of water.

It is a wedding feast -- an important social occasion.  A Mediterranean wedding is an event of pride, honor and standing.  The host must offer extravagant, generous hospitality to the invited guests as a sign of the new family's standing in the community.  The greater the party, the greater the honor and esteem that the new family will enjoy.  Getting off to a good start is essential for this couple's future.  If the husband is to be regarded with respect, the wedding must be an honorable and generous occasion.  If the couple's children are to be paired with mates from honorable and respectable families, the couple must be properly established in the community.  The quality of the wedding is a public expression of status, or lack of status.  Nothing can go wrong, or there would be multi-generational consequences -- shame, dishonor, a loss of standing and respect.

It is no small matter, therefore, that the wine has run out at this wedding.  Such a failure could ruin a family's standing and reputation in a community for many generations.  In an honor culture, there is nothing more important.  This couple's future, and the future of their children's children is threatened.

Although Jesus says that the timing is wrong for him, "My hour has not yet come," nevertheless he has compassion when his mother entrusts this dire situation to him.  His compassion overcomes the inconvenience to him. 

On a practical level, his first miracle has a concrete social and economic impact.  Jesus responds to a very real need in a very concrete, material way.  He saves a family from social and economic disgrace.  It is another way to heal.

On a symbolic level, his first miracle is a compelling metaphor.  When Jesus comes, our life turns from water into wine, from scarcity into abundance, from fear into intoxicating joy, from mourning into celebration, from disgrace into community, from loss into happiness.  Jesus brings life to the party. 

Cheers!

Lowell
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Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
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Morning Reflection Podcasts

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 missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
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 --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

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
Fayetteville, Arkansas



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