Dear Friends, we can’t be together for the next few weeks–at least, due to the rampant rise in COVID cases in our area and our desire not to put anyone in more of harm’s way than necessary. As a result, I will be sending ahead of regular Mass times, the readings, accompanying prayers and a homily for your reflection. As we move into February, we will reassess this plan and see where COVID stands in our area. Please, all stay safe and let me know if there is anything that I can do to help during this time. firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-429-3616. –Peace and love, Pastor Kathy
May all the earth give you praise and glory O God, and break into song to your name, that is good and holiest of all names.
Let Us Pray
Good and ever-present God, your watchful care reaches from end to end and orders all things with such love that even the tensions and tragedies of our failings cannot frustrate your plans for us and this world. Give us the strength to follow your call so that your truth may live in our hearts and reflect peace to all of creation. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, with you our Creator and the Spirit who lives and loves through us, forever and ever, Amen.
- Isaiah 62:1-5
- I Corinthians12: 4-11
- John 2: 1-12
My friends, last week we heard the Scriptures of Jesus beginning his public ministry with his baptism—in effect, showing his followers, which includes each of us, “the way to go” in our lives. This week, he gives us our first, concrete lesson in just how we are to do, “ministry,” in his footsteps.
Let’s look at his lead. We all know the very familiar story of the Wedding Feast at Cana. Most of us recall this event as Jesus’ first miracle. Staying just on the surface, we see our brother is helping out a young, married couple who seem to be, “low on wine,” at their wedding feast, that in Jewish tradition, often lasted, several days. We see Jesus helping out in a most generous way—not only giving enough to tide them over, but in fact, in great abundance!
My friends, we don’t want to stay on this surface level though, of seeing our brother, Jesus doing a good deed for an unnamed couple, but we must go deeper to realize that Jesus is indicating how our God is willing to deal with each of us—giving not just what we need, but helping in an over-the-top way. Throughout Jesus’ public life, he will show this idea and make it clear in many other stories, such as that of the Prodigal, the female sinner who washes his feet, and Jesus’ compassion in return, the woman (and don’t forget the man) caught in adultery, and her accusers, and so many more showing our God’s magnanimous love for us.
Isaiah the prophet proclaims today, “For our God takes delight in [us].” And the idea, as Isaiah continues, that our God sees us, and “rejoices in us” as a newly married couple do in each other, is, in my mind quite wonderful! It seems it should cause each of us, along with the psalmist today to, “Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.”
My friends, Jesus our brother always calls us, “to be our best” because he, as part of our all-inclusive God, knows that this is how we will be happiest. I believe a part of the turmoil today in our public/civic and religious spaces happens because we have forgotten, “to be our best”—always, not just watching out for ourselves, but bringing, as much as possible, all others in our world, with us.
Paul, in his beautiful, first letter to the Corinthians, reminds us today that, “there is a variety of ministries, but the same One we serve.” And all of our personal gifts, bestowed on us by our loving God are intended for our well-being, and that of others as well.
In John’s gospel today about making more wine and more wine in abundance, we learn that Jesus’ first miracle is not only about “abundance’ in what we give, but it is equally, if not more, about the “best” we have to give.
In today’s gospel, we are introduced to this idea through the words of the steward who receives the miraculous water changed into wine, to the newly married couple, “People usually serve the choice wine first, then after the guests have been drinking awhile, a lesser vintage is served. What you have done is keep the choice wine until now.”
It is interesting to apply the example of the “good” and the “best” wine to our personal lives. This reading today falls in the Season of Ordinary Time—a time that can sometimes leave us looking at life in a passive way. Ho-hum-Ordinary Time—nothing special here. But in actuality, this is not so.
Christmas time is past—a time that generally lifts the spirits of most of us as we gather with family and friends and bestow on each other actual physical expressions of the love we hold for each other throughout the year.
In contrast then, Ordinary Time might feel like a bit of a let-down. But as you all know, I have, in the past suggested that we really look at this time in our Church calendar, in between other seemingly more significant times, in addition to Christmas, such as Lent, Easter and Advent, as a time that is really, “extra-ordinary.”
I say this because throughout our Christian lives, following our brother, Jesus, we are challenged in the Scriptures that we read, Sunday after Sunday, to be, like the example of the “best wine,” our “best selves,” each and every day. And, as we look around our world, we are cognizant of the fact, that our very best is exactly what is needed and that being Jesus’ followers doesn’t allow for less, in his memory.
An interesting fact to consider is the following: In our U.S. Congress, 9 in 10 claims to be Christian—that’s 88%–which is up 5% from when I looked at this figure 3 years ago, yet the actions to prove this fact don’t seem to be evident for many of them. They all were given these “precious” positions through the will of the peoples’ votes, and it seems that many of these elected officials don’t realize that they have the great responsibility to try and meet the needs of all the people in their districts, and not just in a partisan way.
And while calling into question the actions of others as “seemingly less than Christian,” I am finding the need to shine a light in my own direction of late for my lacks in being “truly Christian” as well—making unfair assumptions because I don’t have all the facts, not giving, “the benefit of the doubt” where another is concerned, and so the failings go… I say this because I want you all to know that I realize how hard it is at times to be, “our best selves,” but our lives, as Jesus’ followers, as I said above, call us to no less.
Today’s gospel, within a few lines, show us, our brother Jesus saying, “his time has not yet come,” and within a few more lines, when he does act, his time had! It makes me think that even Jesus struggled within his humanity, “to be his best” self. But when his time did come and he found the strength and courage, compassion and ultimately, love, to act, be gave his best from that point forward.
So friends, let us see this Ordinary Time which is actually, “extraordinary” because of what it calls us to do, as Jesus’ followers, as the time—right now, to be our best, with no turning back either. Amen? Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful:
Response: “Jesus, Abundant God, hear our prayer”
O God, as we see Jesus today demonstrating over-the-top generosity to a young couple, let us come to see that your generosity to each of us will be the same, we pray—Response: “Jesus, Abundant God, hear our prayer”
- Loving God, be with all elected officials—instill within each one, the wisdom of your Spirit to always have the needs of those less fortunate in mind, being their “best selves.” Help all world leaders, to find the ways to peace, we pray—Response: “Jesus, Abundant God, hear our prayer”
3. Loving God, give each of us health of body, mind, and spirit—give each one your strength and wonderful gift of peace, we pray— Response: “Jesus, Abundant God, hear our prayer”
- O God, help us to be true followers of Jesus, to be present, willing to speak truth to power for those who most need our advocacy today, we pray—Response: “Jesus, Abundant God, hear our prayer”
- O God, help us to strive to be people of peace, not war—help us to remember that Jesus has glorified our humanity by his presence in it and help us to treat people and our world accordingly, we pray— Response: “Jesus, Abundant God, hear our prayer”
- For our community, All Are One, give us welcoming hearts to be open to all who come to us, and inspire us in new ways to reach out this year to those most in need of our ministry, we pray— Response: “Jesus, Abundant God, hear our prayer”
- For all those who have died this week, from COVID, from ignorance, and all other causes, and for their families—may they be at peace, we pray, Response: “Jesus, Abundant God, hear our prayer”
***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, then response
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause, then response
Let Us Pray:
Gentle God, you who loves us beyond all imagining—be close to us each and every day, shadow us under your wings and be the strength that we need to live as you did, conscious of being inclusive of all, loving others when it is easy and when it is not so easy. Give us the strength and courage to live out our task given by you for the people of God. Give us your deep and abiding peace that we would not worry, but trust and believe that you will always be with us. All of this we ask of you who are God, Creator, Savior and Spirit, living and loving us forever and ever—Amen!
Prayer of Communion:–we can’t today receive the Bread of the Altar, but we ask you to be with us in other ways—
Loving God, you are always with us–send us your Spirit and be one with us today and every day in peace and love. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.