January 17th, 2016 Scriptures for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Scriptures: Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:1–11; John 2:1-11
From infancy we learn that if we cry loud enough, work hard enough, strive for our goals, we will be recognized and rewarded. We come by this focus on ourselves quite naturally and often don’t give a second thought to where our skills and abilities came from or for what purpose they were given. The three lessons for this particular Sunday clear up any uncertainty of what God has in mind for us and for His entire creation.
The clearest possible word from God for us about what we have as far as gifts and abilities comes from Paul’s words to the members of the Corinthian church. If you read the beginning words of the book you will hear that there are some divisions and some controversies and Paul in chapter 12 is addressing the selfish, prideful use of speaking in tongues and other miraculous gifts. His words are clear, any and all of these powerful abilities are given by one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the ‘common good’ of all those involved. The word for ‘common good’ involves the idea of bringing things together to be profitable. In this case to be used for others that they also might know God.
This too is the focus for Israel as a nation returning from exile as described in Isaiah 62. Yes, Israel will return; yes, God will not remain silent, but will rescue them; yes, the nation is truly loved by God and will be like a crown in God’s hand; but no, this is not just for them, but rather that, ‘The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory.’ Israel was not chosen because somehow the nation was special or gifted or better than everyone else around, but so that the nations would see how blessed she was and stream to her and in the end, know God. (Is. 42:6, 49:6, 60:3)
Even the miracle that Jesus did at the wedding feast was to ‘manifest His glory’ so that those who followed Him, would believe in Him. Yes, the by product for the wedding guests was that they drank wine specifically created by the ‘hand of God’, the best ever! But this was merely an accent to the main purpose. Indeed, every miracle done by God (and according to Paul, by any of us fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to participate in the miraculous) through Jesus had the same goal, the common good of rendering faith for all who were close by. “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31)
As you travel through your week, let your talents and abilities be used to The Giver’s honour and glory and praise!