Epiphany 2

January 19, 2025

Lectionary Texts

Isaiah 62.1-5 — Israel’s vindication. “You shall be called My delight Is in Her. “As a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you.”

Psalm 36 — “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

1 Corinthians 12. 1-11 — Spiritual gifts. “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.”

John 2.1-11 — Jesus turns water wine.

Preaching Thoughts

These words of adoration, delight and faithfulness are spoken to people returning from exile. God cherishes, blesses, and promises fidelity to people who have been oppressed, abused, devalued or silenced.

1 Corinthians 12. 1-11
       Paul says: the Spirit moves in each of us differently, with different gifts, but there are not separate spirits: there is one Holy Spirit, and it is in us all. Some people take the list here, with other references to spiritual gifts in Paul, as an exhaustive “canonical” list of spiritual gifts. There aren’t a finite number of specific gifts. They are innumerable. A spiritual gift is any way the Spirit works in you for the sake of the community. Sop, yeah, apostleship and interpretation of tongues are spiritual gifts. So are patience, generosity, openness to wonder, cooperativeness and a sense of humor…
       Help your people do more than pick their gifts off some biblical list, but discover how the Spirit moves in them in ways that offer grace. Whatever it is, it’s a gift, and it comes from the Spirit. Seek ways in worship to celebrate people’s gifts. For instance in prayer time invite people to call out spiritual gifts they see in each other, in the community—no names, just gifts.

       Faithful love. This scene picks up in Isaiah’s imagery of God’s marriage to us. Life is a wedding celebration: a feast of covenantal love and faithfulness. The steward says to the bridegroom “you have kept the good wine till now.” Jesus is the one who produced the wine, so in a sense, John hints, Jesus is our bridegroom, the one who will be faithful to us in love forever. A hint that all of life is both a wedding and communion with God, a eucharistic feast.
      Abundance. A wedding gift of 180 gallons of very fine wine is a gift of delight, an act of joy, a multiplication of astounding abundance and generosity.
       Transformation. The story suggests Jesus’ power to transform, the splendor to which Jesus calls us, the way grace makes something wonderful of the ordinary stuff of life.
     Purification. The jars were used for the Jewish rites of purification, but Jesus has repurposed them, as if we do not need to be purified (“You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you, [15.3])— we need to celebrate! Our problem is not that we’re evil sinners, but that we don’t trust God’s glory in us enough to let ourselves be made signs of God’a grace. Jesus shifts the work of faith from the fiction of being “good enough” to the gospel of being loved.
      Sign. “This was the first of his signs; and his disciples believed in him.” John says the gospel is written “so that you may believe” (20.31). By “believe” John doesn’t mean “think,” as in “I believe Jesus is the Son of God.” John means to entrust ourselves. As in “I’m crossing this rickety bridge because I believe in it.” John begins his narrative about Jesus with the invitation: “come and see.” In John the “signs” are not showy proofs of Jesus’ divinity, but events John can point to that help us see who Jesus is and entrust ourselves to him. The miracle of God’s loving faithfulness, the abundance of God’s glory, God’s power to transform us, God’s delighted acceptance of us regardless of how “clean” we feel—all these are signs of who God is, and signs that we can entrust ourselves to God.

Call to Worship

Leader: Beloved, you who take us in marriage,
All: we give ourselves to you.
Water of life, flowing in our need,
we receive your abundance.
Spirit of Beauty, wine of wonder,
we drink of your grace.
God, you turn the water of our lives into the wine of your delight.
We worship you with gratitude and awe.

Leader: God of miracles, we praise you.
You have turned water into wine!
All: The ordinary into the beautiful.
Scarcity into abundance.
Despair into confidence.
And you turn us once again into your people:
No one into Someone.
Scattered pieces into one Body.
Ordinary lives changed into worship. Alleluia!

3. (Adapted from Ps. 36.5-10)
Leader: O God, your love reaches to the ends of the universe.
All: Your grace that saves all living things is as solid as a mighty mountain.
We take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
We feast on the abundance of your house; we drink from the river of your delights.
With you is the fountain of life. In your light, we see light.
We open our hearts to your love now and always,
your grace to all who will receive it!

Leader: O Crucified and Risen Christ, you eat with the poor,
All: and you provide the finest wine.
You suffer with the brokenhearted,
and you sing songs of praise.
You go toward the cross
and yet you dance with joy.
Amidst the world’s injustice you go about healing,
And amidst the world’s sorrow you go about rejoicing.
Grant us your Spirit, that in this world of suffering and injustice
we may be people of joy and healing,
O Christ, in you we are one with all who suffer,
and one with you who live and reign
with the Creator and the Spirit forever. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of might and miracle, Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. All of life is the feast of your marriage to us. Every moment you perform your miracles, turning the water of our lives into the wine of your grace. Open our hearts to receive your blessings, to drink deeply of your love, and to enjoy the goodness of your gifts. Amen.2.Creator God, we confess that too much we live by our own wits and wants, and not by the leading of your Spirit. Yet your Spirit is within us. Speak to us now; revive your Spirit in us, and by it lead us in lives of faithfulness, love and justice, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Gracious God, as Jesus turned the water into wine, so you have made our lives beautiful and blessed. Jesus is with us in our celebration now, turning the water of our lives into the wine of your praise. In our worship, transform us and make us new in the image of Christ, that we may be your glory for all the world. Open our hearts and minds, that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Listening prayer

Faithful Jesus,
we are clay jars, ready for you.
Turn the water of our prayer
into the wine of your presence.

Gracious God,
the waters of purification
have been changed
into the wine of celebration.
You have married us in delight.
Give us grace to accept your love.
Give us openness
to hear your transforming Word.

Prayer of Confession

Pastor: The grace of God be with you.
All: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
Gracious God, in this wide world, we are small, and we do not understand.
We need you.
In this difficult world, we have faltered.
We need you.
In this hurtful world, we have been afraid to receive your grace and your delight,
and we have brought hurt upon ourselves and others.
We need you.
Grant us your grace, transform our hearts,
and restore in us your image,
that we may live fully in the delight you have for us.
We pray in the name of the Crucified and Risen Christ.
Silent prayer…. The Word of Grace
(By the grace we know in Christ we are assured that all our sins are forgiven entirely, and we are set free to live by the power of the Holy Spirit alone. You are God’s child, God’s Beloved, in whom God finds delight.)

God of miracles,
we offer to you the water of our lives:
all that is ordinary, all that is broken,
all that is not yet as it could be by your grace.
Work your transforming grace in us:
change our water into your wine.
Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
and give us courage to be signs of your love,
abundant with beauty and delight.
By the grace you show us in Christ,
take who we honestly are,
and turn us into signs of your glory.

Pastor: The grace of God be with you.
All: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God, we confess we have thought ourselves Forsaken,
we have named ourselves Desolate.
“But you shall be named My Delight Is In Her,
and you will be called Married.”
Forgive our distrust. Heal our fear.
    [silent prayer…]
Beloved, the bridegroom has brought out the finest wine
to celebrate: you are made pure;
you are the object of God’s delight.
By the grace we know in Christ, your sins are forgiven.
God’s delight is in you; God has married you forever. Amen.

God of love,
we confess we have thought ourselves unworthy
to be vessels of your glory.
We have neglected the gifts of your Spirit in us.
We have displaced your spiritual gifts with our fears and appetites.
Heal our fear and distrust; forgive our unwillingness.
Revive your Spirit in us. Renew the gifts of your Spirit,
that each of us, each in our own way,
may be vessels of your grace,
water of humanity turned into wine of glory.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

      We give our hearts to you, God, Creator of all, who hold all things in your loving hands, you who are the source of love and blessing, healing and joy.
      We give our hearts to Jesus, your Christ, who suffered with the broken hearted and lived as one who was powerless. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, brought good news to the poor and set free those who were oppressed. On the cross he suffered with those who mourn, who struggle, and who die. And in his rising he brings us through death to life, through tribulation to joy, and out of isolation into oneness. He turns our water into wine. He is in the world now, with the poor and suffering, embodying your healing, your justice and your delight.
      We give our hearts to your Holy Spirit, who is in us, uniting all who sorrow and who rejoice, who suffer and who heal. We live as one body, the Body of Christ. We trust in the power of your grace and the covenant of your presence in all things. And we devote ourselves to lives of joy and service for the sake of the healing of the world, in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

     We love and trust God, Creator of all that is and is to come, who fashions all Creation as One, with its many varied parts, united in the Spirit of Love.
     We love and trust Christ, the Beloved, who loved and healed, taught and fed among a broken humanity, for the sake of the wholeness of all. In brokenness Jesus was crucified, but in wholeness God raised Christ from the dead, whose risen body we are now part of, whole and united with all humanity, all Creation.
     We love and trust the Holy Spirit, who breathes in each of us, giving us all differing gifts, and giving us in love to each other, for the well being of all. By the Spirit’s grace the water of our lives is turned into the wine of worship and service. Joined by the one Spirit as the Body of Christ, we rejoice in God’s wedding to the world, and give ourselves to love, joy and faithfulness, for the sake of the wholeness of all Creation, in the name of Christ. Amen.

We give thanks for the grace of God.
At times we have felt forsaken and called ourselves desolate.
     But we trust that God delights in us
     and has married us in faithful love forever.
At times we have thought ourselves unworthy,
unremarkable, in need of purification.
     But God has turned the water of our lives into fine wine,
     and the clay jars of our lives have become vessels of God’s glory.

At times we have thought of others as gifted but not ourselves.
     But God has given each of us gifts of the Spirit.
God, by your grace, help us to believe—to entrust ourselves to you.
     Help us to trust your faithful love,
     your transforming grace, your empowering Spirit.
     We are vessels of your grace. Alleluia!

Eucharistic Prayer

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Beautiful Creator,
you fashion this universe with loveliness and grace,
with overflowing abundance.
The jars of Creation brim with your joy.
You create us as your children, and promise your love.
You have married us, and your Covenant is eternal.
You know what traps us, and you set us free.
You know what we need, and your provide.
When we are anxious, you change the water of our fear
into the wine of gratitude.
We gather at this table, at the feast of your wedding to the world,
and with all Creation sing your praise:

            [Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               [or alternate version]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He performed miracles of joy, abundance, and healing.

He invited all to the table of your love,
and set it with generosity, so that the grace would never run out.
He was crucified, but death could not hold him;
life overflowed, and you raised him from the dead—
for your vows to be with us are unbreakable, even by death.

     (The Blessing and Covenant) *

As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

             [Memorial Acclamation, spoken or sung:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             [or alternative]

Pour out your holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
one in your Spirit, with many parts, many gifts,
many languages, many traditions —
one in your love, and one in ministry
for the sake of the wholeness of Creation,
in the name of Christ.

     [Spoken or sung]

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

God of wonder, you have turned the water of this life into the wine of your presence. You have given us the gifts of your Spirit, different in each of us but all alike in your love and grace. Send us into the world as signs of your love, faithfulness, and delight, for the sake of the mending of the world, in the name and the company of Jesus. Amen.

Gracious God, we give you our gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Send us into the world with the courage to be gentle when others are mean, to care for the poor and oppressed, and to be merciful as you are merciful. Grant that by your Spirit we may do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you all our days. Amen.

God of love, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have changed the water of our daily bread into the wine of your presence. You have re-birthed us as the risen Body of Christ. Send us out into the world, redolent with your loveliness, radiant with your light, generous with your love, in the communion and the power of the Holy Spirit and the joy of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view or hear an audio clip on the Music page)

Vine and Branches (Original tune)

You are the vine and we are your branches,
one with your life and rooted in your heart.
Flowing with grace, with life you fill us,
strengthened that nothing can break us apart.

You are the vine and we are your branches.
Deep in our hearts your life is flowing through.
Rooted in you, we grow and flourish.
You live within us, and we live in you.

You are the vine and we are your branches.
One common blood flows though all of our veins.
We all are part of one another.
We all are branches of one living vine.

You are the vine and we are your branches,
flowing with power greater than our own,
bearing your fruit to all Creation,
till all the seeds of your love have been sown.


We Feast On Your Love     (Original song)

Chorus: We drink from your presence.
We feast on your love.
This is the banquet we’ve been dreaming of. (Repeat.)

You gather us; none is unworthy;
and no one is “greatest” or “least.”
You multiply what we offer,
so multitudes may feast. — Chorus

We hunger and thirst for your spirit,
we open ourselves to your grace.
In flows the mercy you offer
in every time and place. — Chorus

We taste the sweet wine made from water,
our bread is your body you give.
“Drink of the water I give you,
so you may truly live.”

You are the Nerve (Tune: Finlandia)

O God, your Christ is risen in your people.
On earth Christ has no body now but ours.
We are the flesh and blood of your compassion:
moved by your Spirit, with its loving powers.
God be our heart, and we will be your Body,
serving in love in all our days and hours.

We are your feet, that go with joy to others
to share your love, the gospel we confess.
We are your eyes that see what is and may be,
that see each person’s need and loveliness.
We are your hands, that work with strength for justice,
your hands that shelter, heal and feed and bless.

Love, move in me, and guide me by your Spirit,
even when I don’t see or understand.
My life is yours, to be your living Body,
that I may love and serve at your command.
This is my life, my purpose and my power:
you are the nerve, and I your willing hand.

Your Hands and Your Face (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God of all holiness, baptized in you,
we are your Body: your presence shines through.
We, poor in spirit, are blessed with your own.
May our lives shine forth with your grace alone

We who with Jesus do mourn with the world
shall see your banners of deep joy unfurled.
We who are hungry for love freely shared
feast at the banquet that you have prepared

May we be merciful and pure in heart,
your gentle peacemakers, doing our part.
Dying and rising, we do not fear loss,
sealed with your Spirit and marked with your cross.

Blest and beloved and baptized to serve,
we are your Body and you are our nerve.
Not by our effort, but by your pure grace,
may we be your hands and your human face.

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