Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Lectionary Readings for January 20, 2013
Isaiah 62:1-5, Ps. 36:5-10, 1 Cor. 12:1-11, John 2:1-11
Donita Wiebe-Neufeld

The Corinthians passage is very familiar in most Mennonite churches, especially starting at verse 4. This is the "varieties of gifts but the same spirit" piece. The passage beautifully points out how in a community we all have different abilities that work together to create a whole greater than any one of us.

I like to try to read between the lines. Why did Paul write this way? Was he responding to jealousies among church people? Were some people unhappy with their gifts (or unaware of them) and longing after what others had? Or were some people "self-agrandizing", and using their gifts more for their own gain than for the good of others and the church community? Verse 7 has a key point. "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." An excellent reminder of how each of us should consider and employ our particular gifts!

Another interesting thing is that this passage specifically refers to spiritual gifts. It names the utterance of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healing, miracle-working, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. We often think of gifts that maybe don't have the "spiritual" tag, such as creativity, music, leadership...What might our spiritual gifts be? How do we help each other recognize, encourage, and use these?

I'd like to make one mention of the John passage where Jesus turns water into wine. I am interested by the portrayal of Jesus' mother. This isn't the quiet "pondering in her heart" Mary we heard about in the Christmas story. Here she is a pushy instigator. Jesus rebukes her, but still does what she suggests. The servants listen to her too. (Why did the servants listen?)  We do not know how much Mary understood about what kind of Messiah Jesus would become, but she sure has faith in his abilities here! 

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