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Epiphany 2 | Ordinary Time 2, Cycle C

The Greek word epiphaneia, transliterated into English as “Epiphany,” is widely used in biblical and in non-biblical literature in the technical religious sense of “the visible appearance or manifestation of deity.” In this literature the presence of deity is manifested in a great variety of ways. Anthropomorphisms are commonly employed. Past events are interpreted as evidence that deity has entered into the human sphere. Extraordinary phenomena in nature are said to be revelations of divine power. These visible manifestations of deity are said to have occurred during the past, in some instances they are claimed for the present, and frequently they are anticipated for the future.

The texts selected for Epiphany 2, Series C, in our lectionary are excellent choices for our celebration of God’s self-manifestation in our lives. They depict divine-human encounters. They tell us in many ways that God cares about us and that God comes to us. We have the call and privilege of sharing this good news next Sunday.

Psalm 36:5-10

This portion of Psalm 36 focuses on characteristics and manifestations of Adonai Elohim (the Lord God) as perceived by many Israelites. The illustrations and analogies are beautiful, vivid, and descriptive. The human response to the manifestation of the divine is a mixture of praise and supplication. The best of human poetic expressions are offered in service to God. The Lord (Adonai) is said to save not only people, but animals as well. The steadfast love of God is depicted as the most precious gift that we can ever receive.

“Salvation” is the overall theme of the text. For our message this coming weekend, we are called to provide explicit examples of how God has provided salvation among us. We are also expected to permit and to encourage the people of the congregation to define “salvation” as each person perceives it.

Isaiah 62:1-5

At the time of the writing of this text, Jerusalem was still a “desolate widow.” The time was near, however, when the desolate widow Jerusalem will be given a new name within a new marriage, with the Lord rejoicing over “her” just as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. Then Jerusalem and Zion will be a crown of beauty in the hand of Adonai. Her salvation will go forth as does a burning torch carried by the lead runner in a group bearing good news that cannot wait until the morning.

Each of us is that torch-bearing runner rushing out into the night where we are during this Epiphany season. We add our message of salvation to the messages of these texts. We proclaim what God (in every way that we perceive God) has done and is doing for us. As Christians, what God has done and is doing through Jesus our Lord will be central in our proclamation next Sunday. The 1 Corinthians 12 and John 2 texts will provide our basic themes.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

One God, one Lord, one Spirit provides for us a great variety of charismata (spiritual gifts). In God there is unity in the midst of all of this God-given diversity. Paul calls for mutual recognition and fellowship within the diversity of spiritual gifts with which the Spirit of God has endowed us. Why, we must ask, have so many people of the Church consistently ignored this call of Paul and this Word of God and refused mutual recognition and fellowship? Can our divided state of the Church, our exclusive enclaves, our superior attitudes and claims, be in any way pleasing to God? Why do we not use this 1 Corinthians text written by Paul to call the hand of the sectarians, those who will withhold their presence, refuse to share their offerings, threaten to separate themselves and their congregations from us if they cannot force their opinions on everyone else with regard to interpretation of the Word of God, participation by persons who have minority sexual orientations who are called to serve in the Church, or any other issue that they may choose? In their arrogance, they blunt the Epiphany message. They dim the Epiphany torch.

John 2:1-11

The “good wine” in this smallest of the miracles among the Fourth Gospel stories, this first “sign” by which the Johannine Jesus manifested his glory, is often considered to have Eucharistic significance. Perhaps it would be more precise to say that the “good wine” here is Johannine rather than to say that it is Eucharistic. It is an indication of something that was important to the people of the Johannine community. Within the context of the Fourth Gospel, this account may be saying that Jesus, not merely by a word of command but by his life and death, produced in bountiful quantities the “good wine” that is far better than all other wine, a symbol not of overindulgence or of alcoholism but of never-ending celebration of life. As a result, his disciples believed in him.

Today we are Jesus’ disciples. We have this “good wine” from Jesus, given through his life, his death, and his resurrection. What shall we do with it? What did Jesus do with it in this text? Did he keep it? Did he sell it? Or, did he give it away?

Perhaps not merely for this text, but for all of the texts selected for next Sunday we might use a theme such as “The Best Product on the Market!” We might begin by saying that according to these texts we have the best product on the market, and that we agree with these texts that we do have this “best product” as a gift from God. We might involve the members of the congregation by asking, “What shall we do with it, with this best product on the market?”

Shall We Keep It for Ourselves?
Shall We Sell It to Those Who Can Afford to Buy It? or
Shall We Give It to All Who Need It and Want to Receive It?

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Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen