Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11.

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

Unlike most weeks when I post preaching thoughts based solely on the Gospel, this week I will weave a preaching thread through the three readings.

First, I believe that this might be a good weekend to pause and reflect on our relationship with God the Father. The first reading is filled with such beautiful imagery of the kind of love we COULD feel in our relationship with God. In the first reading we hear of a God who delights in his people -- a God who rejoices in his people -- a God who longs to express the kind of intimate, exclusive love one finds in marriage.

We can all ask ourselves if we feel this kind of love; that is if we embrace the possibility of truly being in a loving, personal relationship with our God.

Oftentimes Sin and the feeling of unworthiness creeps up in our minds and in our hearts when we contemplate the possibility of a God who loves us. We see sin as an unsurpassable obstacle around which the Love of God has no desire or power to penetrate. We see our relative existence compared to our all powerful God as being so unworthy of recognition that we can not imagine God taking the time or energy to love us as individuals.

We have all had daydream moments when we try to imagine God keeping track of all of the billions of individuals in the world and wondering how God could possibly be in a loving, caring, intimate relationship with each person. It boggles our minds and sometimes the darkness of doubt creeps into our hearts about our potentiality to be loved.

Or, perhaps we have gotten caught in the philosophical roller coaster ride where we simultaneously attempt to profess the omnipotence of God AND our capacity to make free will decisions. We ask ourselves -- am I in a dynamic, loving, relationship with God where I feel God can react to my future, free will decisions? Or, do we ask ourselves -- am I simply a puppet on a string who protects the omnipotence of God by rationalizing that what I view as a future, free will decision is simply the reaction to a choice that God already knows I was going to make before I was even born?

Are we in a dynamic, personal relationship with God or a static and sterile relationship?

Do we stay in our familiar, human minds and view our relationship with God based on models of relationships from our personal, lived experience or do we try to view our relationship with God from His perspective where unfathomable attributes such as omnipotence operate?

The omnipotence of God and a view of relationship as personal can simultaneously exist. It does not have to be one or the other. However, I believe we do ourselves a disservice when we try to view things from the perspective of God. If we want to feel delighted in, rejoices in, and loved we must view things from our perspective and picture God on a personal level where we are in a one-on-one relationship with Him. All of the relational language that God gives us in the Old Testament is anthropomorphic: love of Father, love of Mother, love of husband, love of a romantic lover. Let us follow the lead of God and find which personal relationship will lead us to a deeper feeling of being truly loved by God.

If we have a poor image of God that does not allow us to feel loved, let us make a change of image.

The second reading talks about giftedness -- specifically gifts from the Holy Spirit. We are told that to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. Do we believe that we possess such a gift in our own lives? Have we accepted this gift? Have we opened this gift? Have we embraced this gift? Have we thanked God for this gift?

Many of us live in a world where personal gifts remain hidden, where expressing God-given gifts is suppressed for fear that it will look showy or ego-driven, where a false humility is actually empowered by fear and it causes us to politely return our gifts unopened.

Instead we need to look at each God-given gift as being given to us to be shared with others. Then will we learn to accept gifts with both arms open wide, ready to spread the goodness of God to others and build His Kingdom.

This is not a time to be paralyzed by fear or to exercise false humility. It is a time to accept gifts and spread their power to change the world.

The Gospel reading this week is on the miracle at Cana. An interesting angle I came across recently simply focused on the emptiness of the jars in the beginning of the story. That is, the narrator makes a point to emphasize that the Jars were empty and needed to first be filled with water before they could be useful to Jesus -- and ultimately turned to wine.

How can this preach? We also need to be emptied before God can affect a change in us. We may be filled with things at the moment that do not allow for the movement and power of God in our lives. We may be filled with things that do not allow God to perform miracles in us. Perhaps we need to be emptied of what fills us before God can pour himself into us and change us. Perhaps we are filled with slothfulness, greed, envy, lust, or addictions. We simply need to be emptied through prayer, confession, and love. We want to be made into something new and beautiful and we need the power and love of God to help achieve this.

How can all three readings be woven together for one, synthetic homily? If you choose this route, you may first preach on our image of God and the ability to feel loved. This could lead to our acceptance of the gifts from God to spread his love and at the same time deepen our personal relationship with Him. Finally, you could call for a deeper conversion, and a deeper love by trying to recognize what we need to be emptied of in order to be completely filled with the love of God.

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