Second Sunday After Epiphany
by The Rev. Canon Dr. Darcey Lazerte
Wow, what a snowstorm. Given we are a little light on the ground and I think everyone here has a pretty good foundation in their faith what I want to do is depart from the script a little and give a sermon in what I call my “Wednesday Morning Ramble” style. So here we go.
We have a passage here from John’s gospel. It is the first miracle of Jesus in John’s gospel and I looked ahead we don’t have John much this year but when we do, it is in the more complex times. Just so you understand what I mean, the greatest example of this is that on Christmas Eve we here the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke – pageant style – in those days a decree went out that all the world should be registered. On Christmas morning, we hear John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God”. It sounds and reads a little differently. Both have meaning but there is a complexity to John that Luke lacks. So looking ahead at the year (Year C when we read Luke’s gospel), I noticed we have John during the season of Easter, Trinity Sunday and for National Thanksgiving – those are the times (National Thanksgiving aside) where we explore Jesus in a more complex and somewhat difficult manner. When reading John’s gospel one must remember that it’s form is important to its meaning. It is a book written in four parts, prologue, book of signs, book of glory (passion narrative) and epilogue. These four parts are centered around the seven “I am” statements and the seven “signs” of Jesus. I cannot get into every nuance of this, that is for another day, but today we should see how structured John is and note that today’s miracle is the first of seven. Miracles where John shows Jesus turn water into wine, heal the sick, feed the 5000, walk on water in the midst of storms and raise Lazarus from the dead. These particular miracles are pulled out of Jesus’ ministry, highlighted and called “signs” by the writer of John. The miracles, positioned as signs, say a little about what Jesus is all about. In these seven signs we fundamentally see Jesus solve the problems that are around him. Problems of scarcity (water to wine, feeding the 5000), problems of health (some new afflictions, some lifelong), problems of fear and the unpredictable nature of our world (walking on water to calm the disciples) and the problem of death (raising of Lazarus). Time this morning does not let me get into great detail but what I want you to think about is how John uses “signs” to speak to the meaning of Jesus and I would suggest that the meaning is found in the particular problems Jesus solves with these signs and that those problems are the problems he came to address in his ministry which culminates in the next section, the book of glory (passion). This is a deeper reading (and sermon I might humbly suggest) than we often get when it comes to this passage. Often we hear reflections centred around the use of alcohol, or when Jesus should be revealed or how he addresses his mother, or the role of miracles. All these points, while interesting, miss the point. This was the first of seven signs that Jesus made, and these signs speak to what he is about, the ministry he was to embark on and the relationship he had with his father. In fact it is right there in the text, our last verse where John writes “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed him”. Today we see Jesus’ glory and we are called to faith.
Thanks be to God. Amen.