Monday, February 29, 2016

You Have Kept the Good Wine Until Now

Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA
17 Jan. 2016, Epiphany 2 Year C: Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11

The wine steward says “you have kept the good wine until now." What does this say to us?
What do details in our Gospel from John say deeply to us? Understanding what we hear in scriptures & in this place has an effect on our work as the Body of Christ.
Paul's words today to the Corinthians & to us emphasize the importance of understanding. Paul says for us to understand varieties of gifts & varieties of services that we receive from the Holy Spirit, gifts God pours in abundance to equip us for our mission to draw the human family into God's abundant Love.
God gives each of us particular gifts to share the Good News: God loves you. No exceptions. All are welcome. How we say this & how we live this makes a difference in how people receive the Good News.
Notice: Paul says the varieties of gifts given by the Holy Spirit are “for the common good.” The gifts include speaking wisdom, speaking knowledge, faith, gifts of healing [which we have in this Body of Christ], ...various kinds of tongues & the interpretation of tongues.
We witnessed speaking in tongues last Sunday. I did not understand the words as Linda spoke, many of which I have heard when other Christians have spoken in tongues, including at nearby Nelson Chapel. God has given me 2 insights into our experience: The 1st came during Eucharist as I read the Proper Preface for Epiphany [BCP page 378]. I recognized part of what God was saying to us through Linda: In the mystery of the Word made flesh, God has caused new light to shine in our hearts, to give us knowledge of God's glory that we see in Jesus & we know through the Holy Spirit.
The 2nd insight into why God would have Linda speak in a different language came as I studied our scriptures for the rest of Epiphany: God was giving us a preview of our scriptures that emphasize gifts of the Spirit.
Notice: Paul emphasizes the variety of gifts. Speaking in tongues is one, as is interpretation of tongues. Various generations have seen an ebb & flow in the gift of tongues.
The gift ebbs & flows like a tide breaking on the human shore, imagery my seminary professor of spirituality uses in his book, Beloved Dust: Tides of the Spirit in the Christian Life.1
When the Spirit broke on the Rev. Dr. Robert Hughes' shore so that he spoke in tongues when he was a student, he sought his spiritual director's guidance. What should he do with this wonderful gift? Sharing his personal story with us at seminary, Dr. Hughes recalled his wise guide telling him: Thank God for it. Enjoy it. Get on with serving God by ministering to people.
Where is the tide of the Spirit touching your shore?
What gift is God calling you to discover or to renew & apply in the ministry only you can do?
How does God's welcoming Love express itself
through you?
We see Love active in our Gospel as Jesus' mother intercedes when the big glitch threatens to ruin the wedding celebration. Notice: Jesus tells his mom it's not time for him to act. Yet he does. Jesus' first miracle comes from his mother's bringing a problem to his attention & trusting him to act.
What deeper meaning do we hear in these words in our Gospel: On the 3rd day at a wedding? What if our Gospel mentions Jesus' 1st miracle being at a wedding to foreshadow our work as the Church – the Bride of Christ? We are the bride. We are also God's servants who know the source of the miracle on the 3rd day.2
We know the wine in today's Gospel comes from water for rites of purification. Jesus' saving work is not for the simple human problem of running short of party supplies. His concern, his hour, his purifying work is his dying for our sins. When Jesus' blood & water flow from his side as he hangs on the cross, he opens the way to purify us of our sins, opens the way to glorious eternal life.
The water & wine point to Holy Eucharist that feeds us week by week to nourish us for our work as God's servants, who say Alleluia! Jesus did rise from the grave on the 3rd day!
Today – Sunday – is that 3rd day on which we celebrate & share the good wine. The 3rd day from now is Wednesday when you, servant of God, have another opportunity to celebrate & share the good wine to refresh & strengthen you for your unique ministry using your unique gifts.
What is God saying to you when the wine steward says: “you have kept the good wine until now"?
Perhaps God is saying some of our gifts are
yet to be discovered.
Since most of us are older, perhaps, like fine, aged wine, God has saved the good wine – the gifts – for the last
part of our lives.

Bible Gateway. Accessed: 16 Jan. 2016.
Grenz, Staney J. David Guretzki. Cherith Fee Nordling. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1999.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Hughes, Robert Davis III. Beloved Dust: Tides of the Spirit in the Christian Life. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 2008.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Saving the Best for Last”. Accessed: 12 Jan. 2016.
Water into Wine”. Accessed: 12 Jan. 2016.
Warren, The Rev. Deacon Timothy G. “Manifesting God’s Love, Epiphany 1(C) – 2016” Accessed: 5 Jan. 2016.

1 Hughes, Robert Davis III. Beloved Dust: Tides of the Spirit in the Christian Life.

2 Harper’s Bible Commentary. Pp. 1049-1050.

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