Grace upon grace

Second Sunday after Epiphany (January 17, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 62:1-5; Ps. 36:5-10; I Cor. 12:1-11; John 2:1-11

This week we visited with a Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation headed to Iraq and made preparation for our own travel to Iraq next week with the directors of MCC’s three advocacy offices.

A plane loaded with humanitarian aid headed for Haiti (Jordan Times photo by Nader Daoud)

Jordan responded quickly to Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, sending medics and six tons of food, clothing and medical supplies. A second planeload of aid is being prepared.

For the most part, though, violence grabbed the regional headlines this week.

An Iranian scientist was killed by a bomb blast while riding his motorcycle to work. The Iranian government accused Israel and the United States of being responsible for the killing.

In Jordan, a bomb exploded near a convoy carrying Israeli diplomats between Amman and Jerusalem. No one was injured, but the blast highlights the tense feelings between Jordan and Israel.

An Iraqi court sentenced 11 men to death by hanging for their involvement in a series of car bombings in August 2009 that left more than 100 people dead.

By contrast, the Common Lectionary readings this week are about grace – God’s unexpected gifts to us.

In the Old Testament reading, God’s people have been in exile and their land is desolate. They feel forsaken. In spite of their waywardness, God expresses delight in them and promises to vindicate them. (Is. 62:1-5)

The psalmist extols God’s steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness and judgments (Ps. 36:5-6) and the fact that all people may take refuge in the shadow of God’s wings. (v.7) “For with you is the fountain of life;” declares the psalmist, “In your light we see light.” (v.9)

In the Epistle reading, Paul describes the variety of gifts that God activates in the human family – wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues (I Cor. 12:8-10). God’s Spirit gives each person a gift to be used for the common good. (v.7)

In the Gospel reading, Jesus attends a wedding with his mother and disciples (John 2:1-2). When the wine runs out, Jesus tells the servants to fill six large jars with water. When they do so, the water miraculously turns to fine wine. The steward tells the bridegroom, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (v.10)

We humans live our lives trying to do what is right. Disasters like the earthquake in Haiti often bring out the best instincts in the human family – compassion and generosity.

But too often, we fail miserably and our relationships are marred by selfishness, conflict and violence. It is good news that God does not give up on us. Instead, God patiently continues to restore us, offer us refuge and new life, and to give us the necessary gifts for the human community to flourish.

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