Sunday, January 20, 2013

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Isaiah 62: 1-5; I Corinthians 12: 1-11; John 2: 1-11

Good morning, on this wintry Sunday morning, and grace and peace.  About maybe two-thirds of the way or so along the road between Advent Sunday and Ash Wednesday.  

The 27th Day of Christmas, and my true love gave to me . . . .  

Except for a few of us deep traditionalists holding out ‘til Candlemas mostly the trees are out the door and the Christmas decorations beginning to be put away in our attics and basements.  I know lots of folks on our block took advantage of that warm spell to take care of outdoor lights.  

Then Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner planning . . . .  Bruce Barnhill, eagerly collecting our Lenten Meditations for this year’s booklet; Pete, charting out music for Holy Week and Easter.  Even colleges on the old semester system are pretty much getting back in gear, and I know around our house anyway with the daughter up in Massachusetts we’re already beginning to make travel plans for spring break, which is going to be here before we know it.

With all that, though, and easy as it is sometimes to skip over the present and live in the future, we wouldn’t run ahead of ourselves, but simply to enjoy and I would almost say luxuriate in the richness of the readings and themes appointed for these Sunday mornings in these weeks after the Feast of the Epiphany.  Gathering together and exploring and lifting up all the deep tones and colors of Advent and Christmas, to rest in embrace in the arms of the Incarnation.  

Almost romantic imagery, perhaps appropriate for the day when the Wedding Feast at Cana is appointed in the Gospel.  On even a cold winter Sunday to bask in the warmth and new light of a new morning for the whole world.  The Dayspring from on High has dawned upon us,  celebrating as the Angel told us, “You shall call his name Emmanuel,” which means God with us.  God with us.

Saints before the altar bending, watching long in hope and fear, suddenly the Lord, descending, in his temple shall appear: come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King.

Christmas distant in the rearview mirror.  Yet all around us, behind and before.  Always Christmas.  God with us.

And as we welcome him we begin to shine also with a reflection of his glory.  So Isaiah, the nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.  You shall be a crown of beauty—that is so wonderful, gorgeous poetic language—you shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

No longer bereft and forsaken, but filled, in abundance and even over-flowing with this richness of his favor, which is known among us in this very familiar passage from St. Paul in First Corinthians.  Gifts overflowing in such amazing abundant diversity.  Glorious diversity.  

Jinny Fiske and George Knight and Laurel Roberts and Lily Buchanan and Thatcher Montgomery  and Mary Gast and Al Mann--Maeve Denshaw and Joan Morris and Dean Byrom and . . . and . . . and . . . .  Well, I could go all day on that one.  Just look around.  Gifts in abundance.  You shall be called 'My Delight is In Her,' for the Lord delights in you.  Wonderful.  The Lord delights in you.

Transformation, renewal, conversion, healing.  Old stone water jars re-purposed.  A wedding celebration in this tiny backwater Galilean village, now suddenly a foretaste and anticipation of the Banquet of Heaven, the Wedding Feast of the King.  New Wine.  

The Irish mystics talked about “thin places,” where the membrane separating the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God allows a glimpse beyond to the fullness of his glory. Heaven and earth have kissed each other.  And it is all Christmas, all the time for us, as we would place our lives into his keeping.

I always love what Mary says to the servants here.  So simple. Do whatever he tells you.  Or perhaps not so simple.  Even terrifying sometimes, as any conversion will always be.  Signing a blank check.  Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.  Take my will and make it thine, it shall be no longer mine. Always, only, all for thee.  

 But the door swings open to a new universe of meaning, as we ourselves become the stone jars now filled in such abundance.  To turn to him and to follow him, Lord and Savior.  The road from the manger to the Cross, and then beyond. 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.  Thou has multiplied the nation, though has increased its joy.

Emmanuel.  God with us.  And welcome, this winter morning.  If someone tells you Christmas is over, don't you believe them.  Not for a minute.  Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king.

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