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Sermon for Epiphany/Ordinary Sunday 2 C Isaiah 62:1-5; Wedding at Cana

December 20, 2015

comingling

the Lord delights in you….. as a young man marries a young woman …. so shall your God rejoice over you. – words from our first reading.

In the name…

Have you ever been to an inner city area that has seen better days? Once there were people and activity. Now there is nothing but broken glass and litter. Banks and shops have moved to the suburbs leaving behind grand brick buildings covered in graffiti. It’s not just depressing to go through such a desolate place; it can be dangerous.

But then developers move in enticed by low taxes.Before you know it, empty warehouses turn into expensive apartments. Cracked pavements are repaired and flowers planted. Restaurants and galleries open in those brick buildings scoured clean of their graffiti. What was desolate is now a delight again to inhabitants and visitors.

Isaiah uses that kind of imagery to describe God’s plan for us. “From ‘desolate’ to ‘delight,’” announces Isaiah. Jerusalem was shattered by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.E. It remained a ruin for the next ninety years. For those who escaped the wrecked city and those who were born in Babylon having never seen the city, Jerusalem was merely a faded memory or only a place of dreams.

Yet, Jerusalem still represented the centre of Israelite life and hope. When Cyrus, the Persian conqueror of Babylon, asked the Israelites what they wished to do with the freedom he had granted to them, they all said that they wished to return to Jerusalem.

Upon their return, though, they did not find the Jerusalem of their dreams, more the stuff of nightmares. The city was hardly habitable at all.

Isaiah took one look at the scruffy exiles in Babylon and announced to them that God had big plans for them. God still has Israel in the divine hand, and the city will be a stunningly beautiful and royal crown, resting in that hand. “No more are you called Abandoned azubah, nor will your land be named Desolate shemamah”

The new name of Jerusalem will be “My Delight is in Her” hephzibah; and your land will be married beulah

waterwine.jpg

In Salerno Cathedral there is a mosaic which tells the story of the miracle at Cana in one simple image: a man is pouring water from one large jug into another; the water leaves the first jug a light, sparkling blue and becomes a deep purple before it reaches the lip of the lower jug. Before our eyes, water turns to wine.

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana, in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:11

This ‘first sign’ that Jesus gave — a miracle of trans­formation — is a key to understanding everything in the gospel. Jesus is constantly involved in transformation: water into wine, bread and wine into himself, blind eyes to seeing eyes, withered limbs to working limbs, guilt into forgiveness, strangers into neighbours, enemies into friends, strangers and aliens into citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, slaves into free people, dead bodies into living bodies, crucifixion into resurrection, sorrow into joy. Bringing home the lost, restoring the sinner and giving dignity to the despised. God’s constant business in creation is making something out of nothing. Making Enemies Friends – J. Forrest (Marshall, Morgan & Scott 1987) p.28

In some places, when the priest puts some water into the chalice at the offertory, he or she prays: “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

This prayer summarizes a theme in the writings of the early Fathers of the church. Theosis, the process of be­come godlike. A process which starts at our baptism and continues as we grow into the likeness of Christ.

A long time ago, Isaiah had said, “As a young man marries a young woman …. so shall your God rejoice over you. I am going to give you a new name and your new name will be ‘My delight.’

Today, Jesus has given you a new name. Believe it. Accept it. You are My Delight. That is your new name.  Amen.

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