The Adventurous Lectionary -The Second Sunday of Epiphany – January 17, 2015
I Corinthians 12:1-11
The season of Epiphany begins with celebrating the gifts of the magi, continues with God’s gift of grace, affirmed through Jesus’ baptism, and focuses this Sunday on God’s vocational gifts bestowed on each person.
The words of Isaiah 62 speak of the gift of a new name. God tells those who had been in exile, you shall be called by a new name. You shall have a new identity. New possibilities will emerge for you. These words are amazing in light of Israel’s past. Those called forsaken will be known as God’s beloved. Those who experienced divine abandonment will now experience God’s joy. With a new name comes an array of vocational possibilities.
Psalm 35 affirms God’s steadfast love. God’s care for us – and Israel – is not sporadic but everlasting. God’s covenant never wavers despite our own wavering. God is reliable even when God appears to be absent. In God’s light, we see light. God’s light will guide us from an ambiguous past to a hopeful future. A hopeful future opens the door to new possibilities and the energy to embody them.
I Corinthians 12 witnesses to the ubiquity of divine giftedness. No one say “I have nothing to add to the community,” nor can anyone claim to be useless. Even the least of these makes a difference. The humblest member is essential to the well-being of the whole. God’s giftedness and our vocational identities can be understood in terms of a number of spiritual affirmations that can be claimed by every member of Christ’s body, everyone in the community of faith, and if we wish to speak of divine creativity as universal, each person:
• Everyone is given a manifestation of God’s Spirit.
• Our gifts are for the common good, not individual aggrandizement.
• Emerging from divine wisdom, each gift is to be prized, and none is inferior or superfluous.
• Our gifts are vocational in nature. Our gifts define our calling.
The story of Jesus transformation of water into wine continues the theme of divine giftedness. On that particular day, Jesus’ calling was to bring joy to a couple and their family. There was no need that day for preaching, admonition, prophetic challenge, or healing touch; the need was for good wine and plenty of it! Our gifts and vocation are contextual in nature. They emerge and flourish in real time, oriented toward real people, and real situations. Indeed, the miracle of the wedding feast suggests that we have many vocations and callings, each appropriate to our particular setting. This is good news that challenges us to stay awake to God’s particular vocational. Life is exciting when we realize that each moment is filled with possibilities and that God is at work inviting us to be partners in divine creativity and wholeness each moment of the day.
Today’s readings inspire preacher and congregant alike to explore her or his gifts over the course of a lifetime as well as moment by moment. We need preachers, prophets, and healers, not to mention a myriad of other gifts. We also need people attuned to the gift of the moment. Perhaps, beyond individual giftedness, we need to explore the particular gifts of a congregation in its community setting as well as God’s call to congregation on a week to week basis.