Sermon Epiphany 2 January 20, 2019

Isaiah 62:1-5                          Psalm 36:5-10            1 Corinthians 12:1-11           John 2:1-11

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Last week I reminded you that we receive the Holy Spirit at our baptisms.  I said that that meant we would become good Christians, if we listened to the Spirit within us.  What should we listen to ?  Well just about everything we know from the Gospel message of course.  But we are not stable geniuses by any means, we only have capacity for a certain number of things.  So Paul helps us out.  First he says all are given insight into what is the Common Good.  Now the Common Good is one of those arguable factors.  Caiaphas perhaps said it best when plotting Jesus’ execution  ‘It is better to have one man die to save the nation than the whole nation be destroyed’.  (John 11:50).  In this instance Caiaphas was right about the Common Good although he really didn’t understand what he was actually saying and what its nuance was for Eternal Salvation.  So discerning the Common Good often requires sacrifice, but where Caiaphas was wrong was that the sacrifice has to be a personal sacrifice, your sacrifice, you have to own it, it cannot be other people’s sacrifice, because that is just offloading the problem onto others.  We could speculate what would have happened if it had been Caiaphas who went to the cross, but I won’t today.  So the Common Good can be served by us all, individually and as a group.

Paul goes on:  some are given Wisdom by the Spirit.  There are those among us we all know speak commonsense, they have been blessed with that gift at their baptism.  They can see beyond the immediate and steer us all to the Common Good.  And then Paul adds:  that there are those among us who know stuff.  They were good students no doubt and have added to their knowledge as their lives unfolded.  They know how the stock market works, which country has what resources, the latest discovery in pharmaceuticals, which horse won the Queen’s Plate in 1962, how to fix an engine and to bake a pie, and all sorts of other useful information.  Then Paul gets into being a Christian.  Some are blessed with the gift of Faith he says.  Those people always had a sense of God in their lives and can see how God is acting through them on a daily basis;  their prayers are gold and their ministry platinum.  Then Paul adds that some are natural healers, of the body, mind and spirit.  When you encounter a person so blessed you immediately feel better.  Remember the woman with the haemorrhage ?  She encountered that in Jesus  (Matthew 9:20).  Paul says others can do the inexplicable, change things from the way they normally are, Jesus certainly did that by His teachings and miracles, and so have others throughout the Christian Ages, and perhaps you too through prayer have changed what would have been inevitable.  That’s the same system Jesus used  “This kind can come out only through prayer”  (Matthew 9:29)  He said.  Others are gifted at baptism with the gift of prophecy.  Now prophecy is a little different from what we usually think it is.  Prophecy today does not predict events, but is a spiritual guide to what we should and should not do.  Jesus was the Last Prophet and laid it all down in the Gospel.  Prophecy today interprets Jesus’ words through the eyes of prayer and devotion.  And that is allied with spiritual discernment.  Those people who are so blessed who can interpret correctly the sometimes differing messages we hear from Scripture.  These people are blessed with an inward compass to the Truth.  Lastly Paul says there are the gifts of tongues and the discernment of tongues.  A very few have been blessed with the ecstatic experience of tongues.  It occurs when the spiritual experience is so overwhelming that ordinary speech is not enough, indeed totally inadequate.  Have you ever been so mad about something that all you could did was growl loudly or scream ?  You were speaking in tongues.  Hopefully you’ve had the same experience with joy, when you just had to yell at the top of your lungs, because you had no words for it.  You were speaking in tongues.  Some are blessed with interpreting tongues.  We can all determine anger and joy but it takes a special person to understand mystical tongues.

There are as many gifts of the Holy Spirit given at baptism as there are Christians.

What is the gift or what are the gifts of the Spirit you received at baptism.  Where do you excel ?  We all are good at least at one thing.  Do you identify with any of those mentioned already, I think some of you do.  Are there other gifts within you ?  Do they need exposing a little ?  Think and pray about it.

Paul’s main message to us is that we use our spiritual gifts in concert with each other, no one of us is better than another.  There are no Stars in the Heaven because God emits so much light, likewise there are no stars among us because we are working together for the Common Good through the Word of Jesus Christ.  He is the Morning Star, we need no other.

Jesus improves things.  Although we need water I am more a fan of wine.  Jesus turned water into wine, at the wedding held just after His Baptism.  He improved upon the situation, saved embarrassment for the bridegroom at his own wedding and at the same time pleased others.  I hope you will use your gifts as Jesus did to improve things for others.  It’s why we were created to take care of Creation and each other and improve ourselves and others.  We all have the wherewithal to do so, the only question is do you feel the movement of the Holy Spirit within you so to do ?  I ask you to think about it this week.  Amen.

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