1st Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5
Our first reading is from the section of Isaiah sometimes referred to as “Third Isaiah” (chapters 56-66). These chapters were clearly written after the return of Israel from the exile. Israel struggled in the years following their return. Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside had been devastated. It was probably hard to believe that Israel would ever again rise up in glory. In our passage this morning such a rising is proclaimed. God will rejoice over his people, who have been given new names. The re-naming of people occurs frequently in the Hebrew Scriptures and is always a signal of divine intervention.
62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. 2 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. 3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
As a whole, Psalm 36 is a prayer for help that is also a confession of faith. These middle verses are more the latter. If there is a theme it is God’s steadfast love (in Hebrew heşed). It appears in verses 5, 7 and 10 (translated simply “love” and “loving-kindness”).
5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, *
and your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; *
you save both man and beast, O LORD.
7 How priceless is your love, O God! *
your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast upon the abundance of your house; *
you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the well of life, *
and in your light we see light.
10 Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, *
and your favor to those who are true of heart.
We will be reading from the latter portion of the first letter to the Corinthians during Epiphany (and the beginning of 2 Corinthians when there is a seventh and eighth Sunday). Paul talks here about the diversity of spiritual gifts given to God’s people. He begins, however, by speaking of the common Spirit that allows us all to say “Jesus is Lord.” Paul’s central understanding of spiritual gifts is that they exist “for the common good,” not as a sign of individual favor. This truth is because they are gifts from “the same Spirit.”
12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 ow there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Gospel Reading: John 2:1-11
On the Second Sunday after The Epiphany we always read a passage from latter portion of chapter one and the beginning of chapter 2 of John’s Gospel, moments of revelation as Jesus begins his ministry. There are many things interesting about the Cana wedding story. This is an astounding miracle but it does not help anyone except the party-giver's reputation and the guests continued imbibing. And what of the strange exchange between Jesus and his mother (who appears here for the first time in John’s Gospel and remains nameless)? Do the wedding guests ever know there has been a miracle? Perhaps, as the first “sign” in John’s Gospel, the story is meant to tell us that Jesus (and the Gospel) do not play to our expectations.
2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved. The Psalm translation is from The Book of Common Prayer. Commentaries are by Epiphany ESources, E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, , copyright © 2018. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study, with attribution. Bulletin inserts are available for congregational use. Visit our website for more information.