The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C
Isaiah 62: 1-5
Psalm 36: 5-10
1 Corinthians 12: 1-11
John 2: 1-11
Several years ago I found myself in Cana of Galilee. I was there with a group of pilgrims from St. George’s College. We weren’t there for a wedding, but we did go to the church where the wedding of Cana is remembered. I must confess, I wasn’t impressed. The town doesn’t have much to commend itself, at least not the part I saw. The church isn’t all that old, just over 100 years, but it is reputedly built on a fourth century church which is built on a first century synagogue. In spite of modern day Cana, and my not being very impressed with it, it is easy to imagine Jesus, together with his mother Mary and his disciples there in the village for the wedding. Cana isn’t far from Nazareth, in fact it’s just on the other side of the hill about 9 miles from where Nazareth is located. I am sure that Jesus must have known Cana well. In fact as a young boy out exploring it would have been easy to walk back and forth between to the two villages. He would have been known in Cana, and probably related to some of the people who lived there. So it is not at all hard to imagine him being invited to this particular wedding. The bride or groom, or both, could very well have been a friend, a cousin or certainly an acquaintance.
Today we remember Aelred, the 12th century abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Rievaulx in Yorkshire. He is remembered especially for his writings on spiritual friendship and chaste fraternal affection. Quote: “No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in time of trouble, and with whom we may share happiness in time of joy.”
http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1015945 Or, how about this: “As a result of a kiss, there arises in the mind a wonderful feeling of delight that awakens and binds together the love of them that kiss….” [http://www.azquotes.com/quote/773721] What do you think about that?
So…the focus this evening is love, that “many splendored thing”, which is the very essence of God [1 John 4:8]. Love, which is perfected in the lives of human beings when we love one another [1 John 4:12]. Love, which casts out all fear [1 John 4:18]. Love, which is the Summary of the Law and the Prophets.Love, which is central to Christian faith, life and understanding. I offer these reflections as one who stumbles along the way and very much depends on others for guidance.
If we know someone is coming, we wait for them. After a while, waiting becomes longing. Now, as we approach the darkest day of the year, we long for the return of light. Now, as we see that “darkness covers the land and deep gloom enshrouds the peoples” (as Isaiah put it), we long for the return of light.
We’ve been celebrating the return of light for thousands of years. Nearly every culture has ways of celebrating the Winter Solstice, the day when the hours of sunlight, having become less and less, begin to increase again.
“Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night…” [BCP p. 70] For most of human existence the “perils and dangers” of the night have not been metaphorical or poetic or emotional. The night, the darkness, was a time of actual physical danger—danger from predatory animals, danger from unseen enemies, danger from simply not being able to see things. Darkness could mean death, actual loss of life. And, so, light has become the giver of life. In celebrating light, we celebrate life.
1 John 1:5-2:2/Psalm 36:5-10/Luke 12:22-24, 29-31
St. Catherine of Siena
Oscar Wilde has said somewhere that we ought not to destroy legends. It is through legends that, as he put it, “we are given an inkling of the true physiognomy of a man”—or woman. Even if not strictly factual, legends reveal something of the truth about a person.