Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sermon: Epiphany 2 - 2018

14 January 2018

Text: John 2:1-11

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

If there is one human institution that shouldn’t be controversial at all, one that binds all people of all times together because of overall agreement, it should be marriage.  For the entire gamut of human history, men and women have left their parents, married a partner of the opposite sex, and typically have brought forth children from this union.  The marriage usually begins by a ceremony and a celebratory meal, and is shared by the families and the community.

This pattern is virtually universal across times and places, across cultures and religions.  It is natural, biological, seems to be psychologically and sociologically satisfying, and is the basis of society and civilization.

It should be no surprise that our Lord chose a wedding feast to perform this “the first of His signs.”  For there is nothing more human, ordinary, natural, and joyful than a wedding.  But there is also something supernatural as well, for our Lord said that God puts men and women together in marriage, and that the two become “one flesh.”  This transcends what we see with our eyes when men and women join together in holy matrimony.

It is also interesting that our Lord chose water and wine to be the substances involved in this first miracle, this first manifestation of His glory in His ministry.  For our earth is mostly water, and wine is a result of the natural fermentation of the fruits of the earth.  But there is also something supernatural in this miracle of Jesus as well, for water doesn’t naturally become wine.  And even the natural rules of hospitality are turned on their head by our good and merciful Lord Jesus, who unlike “everyone” who “serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine,” instead has kept “the good wine” until the end.

Given that in Scripture, Jesus is called the Bridegroom and the Church is called the Bride, we can see how He uses the example of marriage and a wedding feast to teach us about the kingdom, and about Himself.  For in a marriage, the two become one flesh in a way that is both natural and supernatural.  Our Lord Jesus was born into our world both naturally, as a boy borne by His mother, but also in a supernatural way, born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, the eternal Word made flesh.

And what about the Bride?  We Christians are natural human beings living in a natural world.  And when we partake of the intimacy of Holy Communion, we truly eat bread and truly drink wine – even as the attendees of that wedding feast at Cana in Galilee did, even as people have been doing in ordinary meals for thousands of years.  And yet, our Holy Communion is also supernatural, for our Lord said, “This is My body” and “this cup is the New Testament in My blood,” all “for the forgiveness of sins.”  This is indeed a meal, but it is not ordinary.  It is just as miraculous and wondrous as that first of the Lord’s signs when He turned the water into wine through His Word and by His own will and power, delegating authority to the servants by whose hands our Lord worked the miracle (even as His mother told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you”).

Our Lord’s sign: His use of His Word to transform brokenness into completeness, lack into plenty, shame into joy, and disbelief into faith, is repeated every time His Bride gathers in His presence and celebrating the eternal feast according to His Word.  In this ordinary and extraordinary meal, we enjoy a physical and spiritual union with our Lord and our God, who joins Himself to us in a great sacramental mystery, forgiving our sins, and drawing us to Himself in an extraordinarily ordinary way.

We do just as Blessed Mary advised the servants that day: “Do whatever He tells you.”

He has told us: “Do this in memory of Me.”  He has told us: “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  He has told us, “If you forgive anyone His sins, they are forgiven.  If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  He has told us to preach and to teach and to confess Him according to our various callings and vocations.  He has told us to forgive others their sins, to ask forgiveness of those whom we sin against, to partake of His body and blood, to hear His Word, to pray, praise and give thanks, to love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Our Lord has come to us who were starving in brokenness, and has given us a banquet in fulfilment.  He has come to us in our poverty of alienation from God, and has given us riches beyond measure in His grace and mercy and divine communion.  He has come to us in our mortal life of struggle with sin, and has delivered to us eternal life and His very righteousness as a free and full gift, won for us at the cross, and delivered to us by His Word, and placed before us as a meal of union and of communion under bread and wine.

This was indeed the first of our Lord’s signs, but it was not to be the last.  Nobody could have predicted what was to come when the Lord turned water into wine at Cana in Galilee that day, but we know what happens, dear friends.  We have seen not only this manifestation of His glory, but also its fulfillment in His laying down His life for His Bride at the cross, in His glorious resurrection from the dead, and in His miraculous ongoing feast of bread and wine (now become His body and blood through His Word spoken by His servants).

For our Lord has saved the best for last, that is, the wine of His blood and the bread of His body, the Word of His cross, the proclamation of His Gospel, our redemption by His sacrifice, and our resurrection to eternal life by means of His resurrection.

And while the world has taken even the simplicity of marriage and twisted it into a confused mess out of step with nature and stripped of that which makes it supernatural, our Lord Jesus Christ does the very opposite, dear friends.  Rather taking the natural and blessing it with the supernatural, taking something ordinary and making it holy, and elevating the common to the realm of the glorious: all as a wedding gift for His Bride.  

We continue to “do whatever He tells” us in this celebratory meal and eternal feast, as He manifests His glory, and we believe in Him!


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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