Sunday, January 17

Transforming the Ordinary into Extraordinary Joy: Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Water into wine at a wedding, this is the first sign that Jesus performed. We have here such a tiny and puzzling story.

In the grand scheme of things, the event is insignificant and we know very little about this wedding at Cana except that these were friends or possibly even family of Mary and Jesus.

John is the only gospel to recount this event and John will eventually tell us that this is indeed very
significant, though it is also very ordinary and happened in an insignificant place in this backwater of the Roman Empire, Galilee.

John sets us up to see this event as significant. This wedding that is otherwise a quite ordinary event, a wedding in an insignificant town in Galilee, that would be unknown to us except for this story.  We don’t even know the names of the couple being married. The event in and of itself is like so many events in our lives, and event that will be repeated by many others, forgotten in time.

John says this wedding took place on the third day.  If we read the Gospel in a literal historical way, we may think John is saying that this took place on the third day after John Identified Jesus as the Lamb of God and Jesus’ first disciples started to follow him.  But it is more likely that saying this occurred on the third day is to make us think of the Resurrection.  Just before this Jesus tells Nathaniel that he will see the heavens opened up and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man, a reference to the crucifixion.  John has prepared us to see this as no ordinary event, even though it is simply an ordinary wedding of ordinary people in an ordinary town.

Even so, Jesus doesn’t at first see the significance of this moment, rather it is his mother, Mary, who sees and at whose behest and insistence he performs this his first sign that reveals Jesus’ glory and the glory of God.  Jesus even says that it is not time, the Third day hasn’t yet come, and yet it is already the Third day.

In this moment things begin to blur. Jesus provides some of the best wine the steward of the wedding feast has ever tasted, and in that moment this ordinary wedding feast becomes a feast of the kingdom of God, the wedding feast of the Lamb.

And so we read Isaiah 62 where God promises to marry Israel and the land.  And so there has been speculation that this wedding at Cana was Jesus’ wedding, and this is why the bride and groom aren’t mentioned or named.  Historically speaking that is at best speculation, and at worst a form of literalism that obscures the significance of Jesus’ first sign.

In that moment, at an ordinary wedding, in an ordinary town, at the marriage of two people whose names are lost to history (perhaps John own memory), whose celebration was about to be cut short, Jesus in providing wine shows himself to be the Bridegroom, the one through whom God has married humanity and all creation.

Here at the beginning we are at the end. Here we are already at the joy of the Resurrection, of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and the consummation of all things, the marriage feast of the Lamb.
Mary insists on the joy of the celebration not being cut short, and so Jesus’ ministry that leads to the Cross, begins in joy and as a sign of the marriage of God and God’s creation in Jesus of Nazareth. This marriage isn’t complete or consummated without the Passion, and yet it was accomplished through God the son becoming human through Mary the mother of God.

Yes, lines are blurred, yes history and the insignificant and the significant come together in this moment. The wedding at Cana is and isn’t an ordinary wedding, and it was and wasn’t Jesus’ wedding feast, the wedding feast of the lamb.  This was the first sign that Jesus performed revealing his glory and his disciples believed in him. Through this sign of turning water into wine at an ordinary wedding, the wedding at Cana became the wedding feast of the lamb before its time.
Through this sign we like Mary may see and name the ways in which this joyful feast, the wedding feast of the lamb is breaking into our ordinary everyday lives. 

We are in ordinary Time after the Epiphany, we have begun counting Sundays, but this isn’t a time of drudgery or just killing time, rather it is a time infused with the light of Christ, of God’s manifestation in human flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.

May our hearts be changed in this time after the Epiphany, may we have eyes to see.  Don’t cut short the celebration.  Basque in the insight that the love and joy of union with God is found now, even in the midst of the most ordinary events, even in the midst of dreary and cold winter.  God will consummate this joy, and we will also know sorrow before all is accomplished.  Yet today is also the Third day, the time to celebrate, the day of our enlightenment. 

Saturday, January 16

Love as Insight and Compass: A Beginning

We begin in joy, in ecstasy and in light.  This time after the Epiphany.  We hear God speak of love and of being pleased.  We are astounded, unsure what to make of it all.

At a wedding, a wedding in Cana of Galilee, the provision of wine for the celebration runs out. This will cut short the celebration, but it is not earth shattering tragedy, no basic need met, except for the need of beauty and celebration.  Jesus at the behest of his mother turns over 100 gallons of water into some of the best wine tasted by the caterer of the wedding.

This is also a time to hear again John the Forerunner's call to metanoia, repentance.  In joy and celebration we are called to be open to being changed, to tear down our barriers to love.  Or more accurately to prepare ourselves to be transformed by God in Jesus of Nazareth.  We hear the call to ready ourselves for an encounter that will remove the barriers in ourselves:  Those things that keep us from hearing that God loves us and that this love will transform us in ways we may not be able to anticipate.

This is the joy of repentance, the joy of encountering the transforming love of God, and to be prepared to hear God say to us and all creation: "You are my Beloved, in whom I'm well pleased."

This is the beginning of love as insight and compass.  We contemplated the Joy of  Transformation.
Join us as we continue on this journey as we move towards Lent and through Lent into Easter and the Pentecost.
We next talk about this all as a love story.
Join us in this exploration.

Friday, January 8

Love as Insight and Compass: the liturgies of the Baptism of Our Lord to Pentecost

From loving knowledge and insight, we come to know what we are to do in the world.  Loved by God into loving ourselves, loving the world and other human beings. From this love flows true insight and knowledge that can be the place from which we live in communion with others and act in the world.  (Philippians 1:9-11/Romans 5:4-6)

Baptism and identification with Christ should affect our way of being in the world and should reflect what God has done in Jesus Christ   The way to be and live and act in the world begins at Baptism and is brought to fullness in the Holy Spirit who binds us to Christ and seals us to each other but also sends us into the world and animates our lives. 

What Is this exactly?
 This is an exploration through events, liturgies, studies, conversations, meditations that seeks to offer Christ and the love of God as a guiding (moral) compass.  This exploration assumes the reality presented to us in the liturgical church cycle from the feast of the Baptism of Christ to feast of Pentecost give us a means to act in love and justice in the world based upon our reflection on God, as Father Son and Holy Spirit.
This isn’t a teaching about Christianity or the Christian religion. There are many forms of Christianity and the Christian religion covers a large spectrum of beliefs practices and ways of engaging (or not) the world. The degree to which this is about religion or Christianity is so only as a particular take on a faith and spirituality originating in the stories of the Jew Jesus of Nazareth as the incarnation of God, and found in the liturgies, fasts, and festivals of the church year.

Who is this for?
Just about anyone. You don’t need to be a Christian or someone looking to be Christian. You may be a lifelong Christian or new to the faith.  This is for anyone who is uncomfortable with some forms of Christianity but still wonders if there might be something to Jesus of Nazareth and the rituals, traditions, and spirituality that have been attached to his name for 2000 years.  If any of this piques your interest come on out to some event or commit to follow it through from the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord through the feast of Pentecost.

A reflection by our pastor on Epiphany and this theme of love as insight.

 Watch for more details on specific events coming soon.   
Up coming events (Links to Facebook event pages):
Film viewing and discusion of Grosse Pointe Blank, January 22.

Past events:
Epiphany party Saturday January 9th
The Joy of Transformation, a conversation, January 15th

Wednesday, December 23

Link to Mother Jubi's sermon for 4 Advent.

Tuesday, October 20

Oratory Worship and Sermon on the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The texts for Sunday October 18th 29th Sunday in Ordinary time is a portion of Isaiah 53 (the Suffering Servant) Hebrews 5:1-10 Christ as High Priest and of the order of Melchizedek, and Mark 10 James and John ask to sit on Jesus' right and left.  The Gospel passage ends with "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many."

Taking the end of the Gospel portion and the theme of Christ as High Priest and Isiah suffering servant, I found myself drawn to reflect on the crucifixion.  I've been reading James Cone over the last year or so and am at the moment reading The Cross and the Lynching Tree, and am convicted by Cones claim and challenge that American theology can't fully comprehend the cross without relating it to the lynching tree.. One of the presentations at the NPTS Symposium this year argued for an interpretation of Isaiah 53 as the lynching of the suffering servant, as a means of taking up James Cone's challenge and exhortation.

In my sermon I drew out an implication of making this connection, especially in light of Jesus' replay to James and John's blustery assertion that they could be baptized with the baptism Christ was to be baptized and drink his cup. Jesus' says they indeed would.  The Apostles all, except John died martyr deaths, they indeed drank the cup Jesus drank.  The Martyrs and Saints of the early centuries of the Church drank that cup. The martyrs of the faith, were lynched as Christ was. It dawned on me and I said this in the sermon, that those who were lynched in this country, Blacks and other minorities who were lynched by whites are martyrs, who were baptized and drank the same cup as Jesus Christ.

I said a good bit more but I didn't write a manuscript and there isn't a recording and I can't quite reconstruct my meditation on these passages and lynching in the United States by whites of black and other people o color.  But by speaking of those who were lynched as martyrs, something of the reality of martyrdom opened up to me that hadn't been in touch with before.

As I prayed the Eucharistic prayers and lifted up the bread and wine, there was an added dimension of depth, and horror, and beauty. I had a deepening sense of Christ presence as I named the presence of those who have been lynched as martyrs of the faith. And I sensed that through Christ and this bread and wine, I was joined with those who were lynched and all the martyrs and saints . Taking into myself the body and blood of Christ suddenly had a reality to it that it had never had before. 

Monday, August 17

Link to Mother Jubi's Latest Sermon

Tuesday, April 21

New aspect of our worship gathering: Oratory Dinner Church

On Maundy Thursday in figuring out how to work all the elements of the liturgy of Maundy Thursday into a house church setting we settled on two things:
1) we created  a a liturgy like unto the liturgy of the Palms of Palm Passion Sunday, that  included the confession and absolution ending Lent and entering the Three Days along with Foot washing at two different stations that occurred simultaneously.  This portion of the liturgy was opened by a portion of the psalm for Maundy Thursday and the foot washing portion of the Gospel .  I suppose all that could be construed as part of the Gathering portion of the liturgy.
2) We decided to have a meal during the liturgy of the word.  Our Maundy Thursday worship service was a dinner church. The communion elements were on the table for the duration of the liturgy of the word, and the liturgy of the Eucharist concluded the meal and service at the table where we ate and had the liturgy of the word.

For the liturgy of the Word we interspersed our eating with the readings and singing of the psalm with conversation and after the Gospel I gave a brief meditation on the the scriptures.

All those at the service not only found this meaningful for a Maundy Thursday service but expressed a desire to have this adaptation of the liturgy on an occasional basis.

So from time to time when the Oratory gathers for worship we will have dinner church.

Our first regular dinner church will be Sunday May 1 and we will have another on the Feast of Pentecost. Look for the details on our Facebook page.