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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Platinum Wedding Edition

Texts for Sunday can be found here .

Every once in awhile, while idly clicking our way up the remote, our household will catch a few minutes of one of those wedding-extravaganza shows -- Bridezillas or Platinum Weddings.  Well...none of those weddings have anything on the one we're going to be hearing about this Sunday, where Jesus pulls off the greatest catering coup ever.

What does the story of the wedding at Cana have to say about God's extravagant generosity? What does it have to say about God's willingness to help God's people manage our individual and collective anxiety? ("They have no wine!") What other insights do you find in the text?
We also have a beautiful lesson from Isaiah holding out the vision of Israel -- contentious, straying, emperiled, exiled, suffering Israel -- as God's beloved spouse. And our Epistle lesson speaks of God lavishing God's people with a variety of spiritual gifts -- what do we do with all this?

Lots of potential sermon themes here. Or perhaps you will be honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. in your sermon...or going in a different direction altogether.

Bonus point to ponder: How do you handle all this marriage imagery in a congregation filled with singles, or widow(er)s, or other persons for whom marriage may be a sensitive subject? Is there good news for them as well?

As always, feel free to share your thoughts with the rest of us as you plan and pray your way to Sunday!


  1. 3 years ago I preached on Cana. I talked about the amazing abundance when everyone believed there was total scarcity.

    This year I am ignoring, not even reading about, Cana. Instead I am reading all of 1 Cor 12 and preaching a sermon titled Gifted.

    My early directions have me wondering:
    1) how well do we recognize our own gifts? how well do we help each other do the same?
    2) do we truly believe that all gifts come from the same source and that all are needed for the health of the body/community? do we act like it?
    3) do we remember that the gifts are for the enrichment of the world beyond the church, not for the church itself?

    Here are my early thoughts

  2. Lutheranchik, your opening about the wedding extravaganzasgit me thinking about that video that was doing the rounds recently(and may have featured in a link from this blog) where all the wedding party danced down the aisle. I'd love to show it just because it is outrageous but can't really think of a good reason - or maybe its outrageousness is reason enough given Jesus extravagance in the wine supply. My first questions arehere. Off to look at that video again. LOL

  3. I'm preaching on Cana. We are doing a renewal of marriage vows in the midst of the service, and we are modifying the thanksgiving prayer to include all who are in committed loving relationships. I'm still chewing on what I'll do, but I think I'm going to talk about the many levels of things practical and things metaphorical that are going on in this text, and in our marker events in our lives. Covenant in relationship to another human being has some things in common with our covenant with God. Imperfection on our part occurs in both (just like the hosts not calculating how much wine they'd need for the feast). Christ is willing to help us through our imperfections to a more perfect relationship with God. Insofar as those who are single or widowed or divorced or unhappy in their relationships, shifting the discussion from human relationships to relationship with God seems to broaden it so that it is not exclusionary, but I'm still wondering how much I'll fit in this sermon. That's as far as I've gotten at this point, but I'm hoping to spend some time with this later this afternoon.

  4. I'm focused on what a small thing it was for Jesus, who is after all God, to do. It's a minor miracle, by no means the greatest thing he will do. I find it hopeful, how little it takes to make people feel welcome and included, a message needed in churches that hear they need to be more hospitable and either don't see why or can't imagine they'll have what it takes.
    Of course there's also the angle that he's giving in to his mother, and what does that say about how we project our own desires onto Jesus, trying to make him out to be who we want him to be.
    And I'll add an insight from my lectionary group IRL friend who said this morning, "The provision of enough wine to begin with should have been within our power."
    Anyway, I'm thinking about hospitality and welcome as we get ready to do something as small as reintroducing name tags and something as large as voting on whether to be Open and Affirming.

  5. I continue to be drawn back to this piece of art which was shared on the RevGals sight earlier.

    Something about continuing to talk about how God is being revealed to us. I preached on the magi and baptism so maybe I need to do this trilogy.

    I would love to provide a copy of this art work for the congregation to see...but not sure the legalities of that.

  6. I was struck by reading the UCC in-depth Bible comments (at by the role of Mary in the story.

    What would have happened if Mary had not told Jesus about the need "they have no wine"?

    So I think the direction I am taking will be not related to weddings, or to the revelation of Jesus' identity, but to our role as those who pray for others. What's important is not the way the request is worded, but the great abundance of grace Jesus pours out to answer our requests. And yes, we will be singing 'what a friend we have in Jesus'!

  7. I think one of the wonderful things about this story is how its a miracle that is for all intensive purposes frivolous. Its easy for us to think we must always focus on hyper serious things - but here is a miracle that is just about happiness and fellowship.

  8. I'm with Rebecca on the frivolousness of the first miracle.
    Have been musing on the old wisecrack about Jesus changing water into wine, not wine into water. Perhaps a good enough reason to remind ourselves of what life in its abundance could be... and the deep joy of drinking the wine of God's abundance. Link to last week's baptism perhaps - after repentance, abundance.
    The old order/ old ways of doing things and looking at things being overturned as symbolised in the ritual jars being used.

    Other random bits:
    *interesting to me that the ones who are in the position of power aren't aware of what has happened - see the master of the banquet's surprise. It's the folk in humble positions, the servants, who know what's really happened, what's been done

    *even though Jesus has possibly just brushed off his mother's comment, her response is interesting, no? 'Do whatever he tells you'... Why does she seem to have some expectation that something will happen? Has Jesus done stuff privately at home growing up, that gives her some grounds to think/ expect/ anticipate that he will do something? Or is she just expecting him to nip down to the local wine shop and pick up a couple of bottles and bring 'em back? ;)

    *and right at the last... 'and his disciples put their faith in him.' So, although they'd left homes to follow, they didn't have any faith in him prior to this?

    *in the revealing of his glory, part of that revelation is the abundance and saving the best till now

    The lovely thing about this passage is that it's such a rich text to mine. Sadly [well, not that sadly!] I'm away on hol's on the beach on the opposite side to where I live. Look forward to your musings and insights folks.

  9. Preaching 1 cor 12. It's the day of the annual congregational meeting and in the sermon I'll stress that we all need to contribute to make the church work - we all have gifts to offer.

  10. can ask about the art. All they can say is no.

    :) I still love it, too!

  11. If I were to preach on this, I think I would lean towards the reminder that God knows what we need before we ask - and tie in the providence of God with our worries and prayers. The central focus of the passage to me is not that Jesus blessed a wedding, but that he celebrated with his family at a gathering, and did what he could to bless those who were hosting the party.

    Imagine what the Church could be like if we all came to "the party" with an eye to making it a successful celebration for everyone...

  12. OK - - something in Gord's comment struck me after I came here to say I was feeling a little stuck in John 2.

    All of sudden I remembered a joke my mom and I had about Fazoli's, an Italian fast food place we used to go to a lot when I was in high school. After paying and while sending you into the dining room, the cashier would always say, "Everything you need is just around the corner." The first time we heard it my mom looked back at her and said, "REALLY? Everything? Everything I need?" The girl didn't get it, but it becamse our favorite thing to chuckle about when we ate there.

    In my initial thoughts I liked the idea about Jesus' mother poking and prodding him into action, but wondered if that's really all we are called to do. I mean, that's a big job, a worthy and biblical action, but it just seems to also give folks an excuse to pray on Sunday and sit on their hands the rest of the week.

    But everything Jesus needed was just around the corner. Everything - - jars, water, a few servants for bringing and pouring. Everything he needs now is right here, too. Maybe our job is to prod AND to be open to the gifts the Spirit has given to see how we might be the water and the jars and the servants.

    Hmmmm...might I be on to something? Might I just be nutty?

  13. I began thinking through this lesson the earliest I've begun on a sermon for a long time!
    I think I'll explore how Christ (in the bread and wine of communion) transforms us as he transformed the contents from water to wine. Sunday (Baptism of Our Lord) it was all about the waters of Baptism and I'd like to connect that to the transformation of water to wine...instead of choosing to replace the stone jugs themselves with new wines filled with wine, Jesus transformed the contents. In doing so, he has given (somewhat anonymously) a gift of joy to the wedding party.
    How are we transformed by our baptism of dirty waters through Christ? Does something improve on our insides? With Christ, do we become 'the best wine'?

  14. I am with Gord on Epistle text. We are ordaining and installing new elders Sunday. It seemed to fit for now.
    Sherev, I loved the joke regrading Fazollis! Ha
    Sinuses are bad today and so the cat(one of them) and I are on sofa with heat on face.

  15. What a wondrous gathering of tasty comments...thanks so much to everyone. Given that I'm in the midst of planning my wedding (or planning to be planning it, at any rate!), my reading of the wedding at Cana was rather different than I've experienced previously. As I think about what my beloved and I need in order to pull this off (not just the wedding, but also the marriage), my eye was particularly drawn to the way that Jesus provides what is needed for the celebration, in such an extravagant way.

    But I found myself thinking also that by his action, Jesus wasn't just performing a miracle; he was also pointing toward the miracle that was already happening--the wonder of two folks choosing to cast their lot together in this world.

    More noodlings on this at The Painted Prayerbook this week. Stop by and sit a spell, I'll pour you a glass of wine...

    Blessings and gratitude to all.

  16. I am in a series about resolution we should have made - this week's - USE your gifts! particularly for the common good, the community. What is our community like when some do not offer their gifts? Needing each other seems to fit into MLK and HUman Relations Sunday(UMC).

  17. I am placing the congregation in the role of the servants this week...why listen to this unknown guy (and his mother) who won't even listen to his mother? What miracle it is that they listen and obey! What miracle might we be a part of if we listen and obey?

  18. SheRev, I love your "everything we need..." theme and story!

    I've got the family service again; I'm talking about transformation and the ordinary becoming extraordinary. Coal becomes diamonds, sand becomes glass, scraps of fabric become a quilt, etc. What that seems ordinary in our lives is poised to become an amazing sign of God's abundance and joy?

  19. For OPastor and others who may be trying to fit this into an MLK/Human Relations message

    (Following on Teri's & Betsy's comments)

    Perhaps this is not so much a miracle of transformation as it is a miracle of coordination. It is what happens when we not only get all the precious pieces into place, but also what happens when Mary, Jesus, and servants coordinate their work for a transformative, celebratory good purpose.

    (People often bring up the story of Rosa Parks as an example of one person making a single decision and working alone. The historical record shows that nothing could be farther from the truth. She made a difference because she was empowered to act by a supportive, thoughtful community of people who committed themselves to the work of social and political change. "Go ye and do likewise" may not be the message people are prepared to hear, but the peace & justice causes of our day are no less worthy of our investment.

  20. MainCelt--I love your tie-in to MLK JR. and HRS. Wonderful! Lots of wonderful thoughts!

    I think I'll be preaching 1 Cor. I think the people I serve need to hear that they have received gifts and are empowered to use those gifts for the common good.

    I was thinking of the MLK Jr. quote about everybody being able to serve--all we need is a heart full of love.

    For our church we're really working on bringing everyone into ministry--giving them ownership and empowerment.

    I don't know much else. Thanks to everyone for some great ideas--you've helped me tremendously (and I was really struggling this week)!

  21. I am wondering how to preach on this passage this Sunday following the earthquake, especially in light of my community's close connection with Haiti. Our convent, cathedral, schools, and seminary were destroyed; our sisters are reported to be ok, but we haven't heard from them ourselves. And there are friends and family. These are extravagantly loving lessons, beautiful ones - and all I can see is devastation.

    I am thinking that Isaiah was dealing with some of the same issues; I also keep thinking that Haiti has run out of wine, and I hope Jesus will soon show up to bring new life (Although what they need there is water, not wine!). All that, however, does not a sermon make.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

  22. The other thing that's running thru my rain, aftr doing a word study, is the fact that John uses the word "sign" - semeia - rather than miracle. Not big and flashy - just something that marks what he has done, to a relatively small group of people - "his disciples believed" - it wasn't something to wow the assembled crowd, it was perhaps a gesture to make a point. we tend to like our miracles big and flashy, and this one was not. and yet, it was such a gift of abundance in this particular context, and one based on relationship. And with the Haiti disaster, and some of the reporting I've heard on NPR, I'm thinking of weaving in some small gestures of relationship that people have seen on the streets (a man comforting a young girl in a clinic who had lost her entire family, people sharing small containers of water). gestures of relationship that are glimpses of the divine, and examples of what Jesus wants us to live in our own relationships.

  23. My brain took an entirely different tack on this reading as I was doing sermon preparation this afternoon. I was planning to focus on the water jars, no longer available for purification, instead overflowing with an abundance of the unexpected. Instead, I'm finding myself musing about Mary's situation. Jesus and the disciples get invited, it seems, because Mary is invited. They may have ended up in the vicinity rather last minute, causing a catering nightmare! And Mary, looking at catastrophe looming, wonders whether the presence of her son and his disciples isn't the reason they've run out of wine! Well, if he could be the cause of the lack of what was needed, surely he could take care of the difficulty, as well. Hence, the confident "Do whatever he tells you," to the servants.

    Jesus showing up does cause difficulties in our lives. Perhaps more of them would be solved if we would go to Jesus with as much confidence, as much motherly pushiness, as Mary...


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