Thursday, January 21, 2016

Epiphany 2 C - Jan 17, 2016

Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY
Br. Joseph Wallace-Williams, n/OHC
Epiphany 2 - Sunday, January 17, 2016

Isaiah 62:1-51 
Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11
The Marriage at Cana, Gerard David, Louvre Museum
Maybe I'm just hearing things? Did anyone else catch all that? Maybe our familiarity with this text makes it hard to catch it all? Maybe this will help: 

• Hospitality and its importance.
• Scarcity and Abundance, 
• It's okay to have a party and a good time.
• Attentiveness and Disobedience.
• Family tension.
• Fear and Shame. 
• Isolation vs community. 

 And I could keep going!!!

I think this text from John's Gospel offers us, three important and timely lessons if we would but listen. The first concerns the issues of the old and the new. The second concerns the power of intercession and the third concerns the topic of obedience.

The Lesson about the Old and the New in the text: The Old wine was still wine, even if it was not the premium stuff. The Old stuff just before it gave out was enough to make them think that all was well and they were still in control. The old stuff gave a sense of security.

Now before I go on I think it important here to say that I love old things. I love studying history.  I love antiques. Most of all I love old people. And anyone who knows me and knows me well will tell you that I have a deep respect for tradition and that I'm also not afraid to challenge orthodoxy with orthopraxis and critical scholarship. 

All that being said I think it is often all of that old stuff, not the total emptiness or rock bottom that obstructs conversion and our way to Christ.

You know all of those:
• Past hurts, grudges and bitterness.
• Unflinching denial.
• Old attitudes and insecurities. 
• Passive aggressive behaviors disg
uised as piety.
• Old habits and ways of coping that if we are honest with ourselves never really worked to begin with.
• Outdated information.
• Artificial smiles and politeness that thinly veil rage. 
• Sexism, racism, homophobia and ageism disguised as prudent advice.
• Lifeless rituals and rules that coalesce to create old, dry religion.
• Just stale, Stinking thinking and pessimism disguised as realistic thinking.

Old and New.

Freshness and Stagnation.

Jesus stretching us making us really uncomfortable.

Jesus working shaping us 

Calling the best out of each and every one of us.

The lesson on the strength and power of Intercession

We are often so in the thick of our emotions and inner stuff that we can’t see the full picture and not know up from down right from wrong or make the distinction between hope and fear. 

Like the people in the story who see the reality of what is about to take place realizing their powerlessness and reached out to someone who is more powerful than they themselves. 

We too need a:
• Praying community.
• A community that is faithful and spirit filled surrounding us. 
• A Community bold enough to speak the truth.
• A perceptive community that will continue to encourage and challenge us to grow more fully into holiness despite our resistance.

And as companions to one another after we have spoken the truth we must like Mary make intercession to the One who has power and authority. 

The quiet confidence she displays in the text comes from, I think, an intimate relationship with the Whom she was speaking to. So Mary is neither upset nor unnerved by the response of her son.  She is confident that he will act in some way to her petition.
So, before she exits stage left and drops the microphone she tells the wait staff to do whatever He tells them.

Which brings us to the lesson on obedience and cooperation with the spirit:

Like that wait staff at the wedding reception we too need to be prepared and willing to do whatever He tells us: By any means necessary!

  But here’s the catch to this risky, radical obedience to the Will of God: What God asks may not make any obvious sense to us at the time. But as my ancestors would say:“ We will understand it better by and by. “

This is where the robber meets the road. This is where actions speak louder than words. This is where real discipleship real obedience is the hardest--when it has to be mixed with deep faith because we know that God provided back then and that same God is faithful, and true now.

The radical obedience of the wait staff in today's gospel reading prepares the ground for Jesus to take an empty and inadequate situation and make the best out of it. And the result is that everyone at the event profit from the obedience of a few. 

All God needs is just a few folk who will do what Jesus says. Just a few folk who catch the vision of what could be, while the many criticize, based on what already is. Just a few folks to be a voice crying in the wilderness.  Just a few people to resist the status quo and opt in to the vision offered by Christ.  Just a few who know where true life is.  Just a few who know where fullness of joy can be found. 
Beloved don't get it twisted numbers can fool you: Big crowds can give a false sense of security and approval and a couple of people can give a false sense of defeat. 
Signs and wonders do not require a large group. All God needs is just a few folk who will follow Jesus and do what he says is plenty 

The Path of faithfulness and Discipleship is not always fun stuff but it’s definitely the stuff that will make us Saints.

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