Christmas 2 / Epiphany
John 2. 1-11
Knowing what to give as the right gift... It is quite an art,
I hope you all got exactly
what you wanted for Christmas.... exactly what you might have
chosen for yourself - or maybe not? For giving gifts at Christmas
says more about the giver than the recipient perhaps? Or it
says something about both.
Take those first Christmas
gifts.... the ones we remember at the Epiphany ... the three
gifts presented by those wise men.
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
All very well, all very valuable - but not I imagine what the
toddler who received them would have chosen for himself? Probably
not what Mary his mother, or Joseph his father would have selected...
although I am sure the gold came in handy for a poor family like
The gifts of gold, frankincense
and myrrh tells us more about the wise men than they do the baby/
infant before them. They tell us that here are individuals that
have treasure chests from which to bring such items! So here
are people of some means.
They tell us that here are
people who study - history, the stars, the cultures of other
nations... Here are learned men.
They also tell us that here
are people who are searching, searching for answers - for answers
to age-old mysteries that transcend national, religious and cultural
And the answer they find in
that stable /cave or house (depending on which version you read!)
is bound up somehow in the fate of a small child from a poor
family in a dusty backwater of a forgotten and downtrodden people.
Here is child with the potential - to be almost anything. But
as far as the Magi are concerned, he is to be royal - a king
no less; he is to be a priestly figure and he is to bring healing
- So yes, the gifts tell us such a lot about both the givers
and the one to whom they are presented.
Fast forward, thirty or so
years and the child is now a man, on the threshold of starting
his life's work - his real work as opposed to the work of a carpenter
for which presumably he has been trained. And he is in another
setting where gifts are often exchanged. Where gifts are expected.
- A Wedding.
How do you choose the right
gift to present to a newly married couple? Do you consult their
wish list - these days often lodged with a particular shop and
accessible on-line? So that the gift you give, you may never
have actually seen or touched! Or do you think back to your own
experience of setting out on life's path together and think what
you valued receiving? Except of course that today most couples
have their home assembled long before they think of formalising
their relationship with a wedding! Do you resort to giving them
cash or a token, so that they can choose something appropriate
Again what does that tell us
about ourselves? As well as about the Happy Couple?
Jesus is not really ready to
declare his hand - to demonstrate his power, his gifts - but
it seems (as so often in life ) that other people - specifically
his mother - have other ideas. So he is almost forced into giving
a gift to the wedding party. And what a gift it is!
Here is something entirely
appropriate at a reception - Jesus in effect declares an open
bar. He provides wine, just at the point when the resources of
the wedding families are exhausted. The wine is running out.
The source of joy and celebration is drying up.
But then suddenly God is among them. And where God is, nothing
can be dry or meagre.
So the wine is plentiful and
of the very best quality. The gift tells us as much, if not more
about the giver than about those to whom it is given.
God will provide not merely enough, but abundantly, for we have
a god who longs to be generous, who longs to see us flourish
and thrive, who longs to make us happy
The wise men, having presented
their gifts, threw themselves down and worshipped, then they
went home by another route. Changed forever and filled with the
joy of knowing Christ's presence.
Jesus, having presented his gifts at the wedding in Cana, went
on to perform much greater signs and wonders, changed forever
and filled with the joy of knowing he was about God's business
- and his disciples believed in him, we are told.
Such a gift is open to us too.
Offer your gifts, your knowledge, your wisdom and your searchings.
Pour them all out before him. And know that the Christ born in
Bethlehem can be born in your heart also. God is here with us.