Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beautiful Gifts of Welcome

Our texts for this third Sunday in the season of Epiphany are John 2:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, which can be read here.

One of the most beautiful places I have ever been is Lucerne, Switzerland.  The two days I spent there about 3 years ago were absolutely breathtaking--and one of my favorite moments of sheer beauty actually involved today's Gospel lesson.  My travelling buddy and I were rounding a corner into a part of Old Town called the Weinmarkt, which is well known for a beautiful fountain at the center of its square where Passion Plays telling the story of Christ's crucifixion have been held since the 15th century.

As our gazes rose from the fountain to the buildings surrounding it, however, we noticed a massive fresco painted across an upper facade:  a depiction of today's Gospel story, the Wedding at Cana.

I remember staring up at this picture for a long time in the square, watching the shadow move across it.  It totally caught me by surprise--just as I imagine this event must have caught all who heard of it in the early church a bit off guard.  I have been amazed, as I have traveled throughout the world, how often I have found this particular miracle of Jesus' depicted in art.  What is it about this miracle--this first "sign of God's glory" that Jesus performs in the Gospel of John--that captures our imagination?  I tend to ask this question, as you might notice, when we come across a story that shows up often in art.   What is revealing about Jesus' first "sign" being in a time of celebration, in a place where really only his close friends and some servants know what he has done, at a time when even he did not expect it?  

As you think on these questions, here are some other pictures of the Wedding at Cana from around the globe (Jesus Mafa's African perspective, John August Swanson's Hispanic-flavored perspective, and He Qi's Asian perspective) that might help spark our imagination to think about what this miracle tells us about how Jesus reveals God's glory to the whole world.  I think it has something to do with sheer beauty, and with celebration, with building community, and most of all with joy...but what do you think?  And, what might this story teach us about hospitality, about the gifts of welcome we offer to one another and that God has offered to us?

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