Beyond Wood and Stone

Rev. Elisabeth's Cedar Park Blog site

Month: January 2013

What a lot of wonderful wine! (John 2:1-11)

Without giving too much away about this week’s sermon,  it reflects the boggling of my mind when I read in a commentary how much wine 6  times 30 gallon purification jars can hold!

John is the only Gospeller of this story, which makes some grey-brained scholars very skeptical about its basis in historical fact.  That may be so, but let’s for pity’s sake, not p**p the party!!  This story of wine-filled happiness, abundance and blessing is trying to tell us religious folk something we’re long overdue to hear.

Wine makes many appearances in Scripture, almost always as a potent symbol of God’s covenant faithfulness AND,  God’s determination that life be graced with abundance and joy.

I had occasion a few years ago to walk with a vinter through his ripening crop.  The ground was baked hot and hard, and was filled with small rocks. The wizened, gnarly plants crawled bare stemmed out of the ground up a trellis of rusting wire. If you look at the lower two to three feet of a vine trellis, you’d be convinced that nothing much would come of such a spindly, scrawly start. But at shoulder height it all changes.  Leaves larger than my palm exploded from the vine, rich and green, veined and succulent… no wonder the Greeks learned to make dolmades with them, they look and are tasty! In among those luscious leaves is the jewel in the vine, hefty purple pearls bunched in clusters, each one an explosion of sugar sweet tart juiciness.

No wonder this amazing fruit, that can squeeze water from the rock of dusty, arid, rocky clay, or sandy loam and turn it into gold or purple juice,  has become the symbol bar none of the way God blesses this world.  The vine doesn’t need succulent perfection to make its fruit, and neither does God need perfection from us in order to shower is with blessing, and more to the point, turn us into wine for the world!

Leaving aside, with respect, the temperance heritage of our UCC ancestors of the Methodist persuasion for just a moment, if wine is permissible in your household, pour yourself a glass with dinner tonight. Savour its bouquet, taste, and remember,…. this is what grace tastes like, what blessing looks like.  Be blessed and enjoy!




Epiphany – How Revealing!

It’s squished in, between the High Holies of Christmas, and the Long Laments of Lent.  Most of us barely notice it, don’t know it has a name, or what it’s for…. it’s the Season of Epiphany.  If we know the name “Epiphany” at all, we associate it with that Star in the East, followed by camel-riding Magi to a stable in Bethlehem.  Isn’t “Epiphany” just the last hurrah of Christmas, signal to take down the dried up Christmas tree, and box the baubles til next December? Who knew it was more than a day? Or that it’s actually a season – anywhere from 5 to 9 weeks long?

So what now then? Do we really have to get excited and “into” yet another Christian Season during these dark dreary days of January and February?  Well, perhaps you, good reader, don’t have to if you don’t want, but I do!!  And I dare to say, I think it’s worth the effort.

Epiphany – a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “revelation”-  is a season designed to help us get used to God showing up in the world.  It does take some getting used to, despite the 200o years of heralding the mind-blowing nativity of “God-with-us”!  This startling claim  of Christmas –  that God’s love for creation is so involved, so ‘entwined’ with creation, that God chooses to take on the same blood, flesh, sweat, tears, pain, joy, ecstasy, agony of human existence – is not so easy to grasp, when you stop and think about it. So it’s no wonder that the Christian church decided to take a few weeks each year to really get used to the idea that God is not just  “in his heaven”, but is here with us on earth.  This squished in season of “Epiphany” is a gift of time to notice God’s “extraordinary” presence, gifts, signs, and promises, nestled in with us in the “ordinariness” of our creaturely lives.

That’s the thematic approach I shall be taking to the Season of Epiphany this year:  Noticing God’s “extraordinary” in the midst of our “ordinary” –   God’s healing, loving, challenging, presence and promise peeking through in ordinary things like water, words, human bodies, a walk in the mountains, a song, an ancient poem, a net of fish…. If we start to notice God in these ordinary things that the lectionary scriptures talk about, then the question is begging to be asked…… is God inmyordinary life, too, spangling it with potential and promise, change and newness like stars in a winter sky?   Omigosh! That’s epiphanic!


Join us during the weeks of Epiphany, see if you see what I see: God’s extraordinary, in the midst of our ordinary! See you Sunday!



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