For 2000 years, Christians have been marveling at Jesus’ miracle of changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. Water, both as a symbol and as a physical reality, flows through all of the Bible. In the Gospel of John, water is a potent symbol of Godâ€™s power. As Jesus quietly demonstrates his power over life itself at Cana, we see that in God, life is unlimitedly abundant. After Jesusâ€™ intervention there was no lack of wine; the wedding party continued with joy. â€œDo whatever He tells you,â€ is Maryâ€™s direction to the servants. Might we also do what he tells us? In so doing, we will experience the miracle of transformation in our lives.
Many of us were baptized as infants, so our only â€œmemoriesâ€ of that day consist of photos and stories told to us by those who love us. Regardless of when we were baptized, we are to live each day in the joy and gratitude of the newly baptized. In baptism we are claimed, forever promised inclusion and welcome as a child of God. To emphasize the eternal strength of this claim, God makes the same claim for the Son, Jesus: ‘You are mine forever, and I am proud of you.’ – What more do we need to hear? May we know assuredly that we are loved.
“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we…have come to pay him homage.”Â Matthew 2:2
Today, January 6th, is Epiphany.Â EpiphanyÂ comes from a Greek word meaning “appearance.” This day is called Epiphany because we celebrate that God was revealed in Jesus to the world – not only to the Jewish nation but to all the nations of the world. We celebrate today that God reached out to the magi in lands far east of Jerusalem. From the beginning Jesus was God’s revelation and God’s gift for the world. In his ministry Jesus reached out to Gentiles multiple times, including a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28) and a Samaritan woman (John 4:4-26). But in this reading and on this day we are told that even as a child Christ Jesus was revealed to peoples from all nations as God’s promise for the world. Epiphany reminds us that we who have beheld God’s glory in Christ are sent to share Christ with the world (Matthew 28:19-20). Shared by The Word In Season devotional reading Matthew 2:1-12.
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In todayâ€™s luminous reading from the Gospel of John, we encounter Godâ€™s ultimate promise kept: â€œAnd the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a fatherâ€™s only son, full of grace and truth.â€ The psalmist invites us to praise God as one who keeps promises to heal and make whole. God in Christ invites us to become the bearers of light as we engage with our communities and world. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can see God in the neighbor and join in praising Godâ€™s gift of love.
In the gospel reading from Luke, the boy Jesus can also be found in the temple, after a frantic search by his parents. Mary and Joseph do not understand why he would be in the temple, and Jesus does not understand why his parents did not think to look there first: he is, after all, in his Fatherâ€™s house because of obedience to his lifeâ€™s work. Far from being the fun-spoiler, obedience leads us to praise. When we let our words and actions point toward God, we find reasons for praise on every side. May the peace of Christ dwell in you richly.
In winterâ€™s deepest night, we welcome the light of the Christ Child. Isaiah declares that the light of the long-promised king will illuminate the world and bring endless peace and justice. Paul reminds us that the grace of God through Jesus Christ brings salvation to all people. The angels declare that Jesusâ€™ birth is good and joyful news for everyone, including lowly shepherds. Filled with the light that shines in our lives, we go forth to share the light of Christ with the whole world. Merry Christmas!
Blessed are those who believe. Mary favors Elizabeth with a visit. Together Mary and Elizabeth become examples of Godâ€™s blessing for the lowly. A barren old woman and an unmarried young woman each are favored by God. Each expresses praise for what God is fulfilling in their life. Their experiences remind us that knowing God is with us, and even that we have received Godâ€™s favor, does not mean our lives will be without hardship. In the midst of struggles and challenges, we can and do experience joy. May joy be in our bones and praise on our lips.
One can imagine the sense of anticipation of those who arrive to hear John in the wilderness. Maybe even a sense of hope, awe and even fear. However, John made it clear that while he baptized them for repentance, the one coming would bring something totally different. In Christ, Godâ€™s love is enduring and eternal. Sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the sign of the cross forever, the baptized are invited to remember this promise daily and the good news it brings. So, maybe instead of asking â€œWhat should we do?â€ we act with grace and love.
We have been experiencing life in the wilderness of a pandemic. We also see the wilderness of a messy world where some have wealth and status while others experience food insecurity, injustice and homelessness. It is into this wilderness that today, John the Baptist proclaims that one is coming through whom â€œall flesh shall see the salvation of Godâ€ (Luke 3:6). John points us to the Promised One and to the salvation Jesus offers. We are called to bear witness to the promise that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, who leads us to life.