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Lindemann on Epiphany 2

by revalkorn ~ January 10th, 2011

THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY

Today we see another ray of Epiphany light manifested in Cana and to be reflected in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. The grace revealed in the Holy Gospel and to be manifested in our lives according to the Epistle is evidently the grace of sympathy. The general dominant note of the Epiphany is present in the Introit and the Gradual, the note of joy. The chief thought is brought by the Holy Gospel, in which by His presence and by His first miracle our Lord manifests divine sympathy. That the occasion was a wedding is no reason for ignoring the Church’s purpose by preaching on the subject of marriage. Our Lord is the center, God manifest in the flesh. The Epistle speaks of love, mercy, kindly affection as the imitation by us, and the reflection in us, of a quality manifested by the God-man. The Gradual also pictures divine sympathy. God healed us. Praise Him for His goodness.

The Introit. “All the earth shall worship Thee and shall sing unto Thee, 0 God. They shall sing to Thy name, O Thou Most High. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands; sing forth the honor of His name, make His praise glorious.”

Again we have here the dominant note of the Epiphany, joy. The whole creation is to join in singing to the Name of the Most High.

The Collect. “Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth, mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people, and grant us Thy peace all the days of our life.”

At first glance this prayer may seem out of harmony with the thought of the day, which is our Lord’s manifestation of divine sympathy. Yet a prayer for continual peace all the days of our life can be made to harmonize. For peace we need the assurance of divine power extending over “all things in heaven and earth” and of divine mercy and sympathy accepting our petitions. This union of love and power is the great teaching of the miracle of Cana, in which our Lord made use of God’s power to relieve anxiety and to grant peace. His sympathy is united with infinite power. His power may be trusted, for it is united with infinite sympathy.

The Epistle (Rom. 12:6-16). The glory of the Lord must be reflected in those who believe in Him, reflected in devoted relation to those in the community. Prophecy, service, teaching, exhorting, contributing, giving aid, merciful acts, all these are gifts. They are to be used as gifts, with diligence, faithfulness, simplicity, cheerfulness. The gifts are of God. The Christian recognizes his responsibility and, strengthened by God’s grace, manifests his Master’s glory by the good use of them. Love, kindness, fervor, patience, constancy in prayer, generosity, unity, humility, these are marks of the true follower of the Master. Living them is living Him. “Sing forth the honor of His name, make His praise glorious!”

The Gradual. “The Lord sent His Word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Alleluia! Alleluia! Praise ye Him, all His angels; praise ye Him, all His hosts. Alleluia!”

The Savior is here! God sent Christ and delivered us from destruction. For this all the children of men and all the hosts of angels are to praise Him. The Word became flesh because He was moved by the same sympathy and pity which prompted the miracle of Cana.

The Proper Sentence. “Alleluia! Oh, praise the Lord, all ye nations; and laud Him, all ye people. For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Alleluia!”

The Gospel (St. John 2:1-11). The reason for appointing this Gospel is: “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” Last Sunday we had the epiphany of the first word, today the epiphany of the first sign, a manifestation of His glory and a cause of faith in Him. The miracle of Cana is here to be considered as an Epiphany of Sympathy.

The Proper Preface. “And now do we praise Thee that Thou didst send us Thine only-begotten Son and that in Him, being found in fashion as a man, Thou didst reveal the fullness of Thy glory.”

OUTLINE FOR SERMON ON THE EPISTLE

Christian Sympathy

A. Sympathy and Duty. St. Paul passes naturally from duty to sympathy, for the Epistle for today follows directly that for last Sunday. The same divine obligation which binds to duty binds also to sympathy. We are all to labor and to love because we are members one of another.

B. The Brotherhood of Duty. Christian brotherhood is the foundation of Christian duty. Christianity treats men as brothers, all “having gifts that differ according to the grace given us.” Each Christian must contribute his special gift to the good of all. The prophet or preacher is not to preach an isolated gospel of pet truths, which he brings forward to the exclusion of others. The minister is to give himself wholly to his flock, the teacher to his class, the mission preacher to his evangelizing. Charity, authority, mercy must not be administered perfunctorily. Our first duty to others is to do our own work well.

C. The Brotherhood of Sympathy. Inflexible in principle and careful of our own spiritual life, we are to be no less careful of the needs of others. “Contribute to the needs of the saints.” The rich Christian has a direct responsibility for his poor fellow Christian. Such sympathy is not a matter of sentiment but of duty. “Practice hospitality.” Welcome fellow Christians not only to our Church and to our hearts but to our homes. “Bless, and do not curse them.” Go beyond the friendship which loves where it is loved, by blessing your persecutors. Christian sympathy must “rejoice with those who rejoice,” as did our Lord at Cana, and “weep with those who weep,” as He did at Bethany. Rise to absolute identity of feeling, “live in harmony with one another.” To conquer prejudice, which so contracts the affections, “associate with the lowly.” This brotherhood of duty and sympathy is to be found in the Church of Christ. Christians have the bounden duty to recognize that want of courtesy and indifference to the feelings of others, to say nothing of positive readiness to give pain, are an open denial of Christ.

OUTLINE FOR SERMON ON THE HOLY GOSPEL

The Sympathy of Christ

A. Duty and Sympathy. Duty did not fill our Lord’s life so completely as to leave no room for sympathy. Surely no life was ever so spent in duty. He had just entered upon His campaign of redemption and was in the act of choosing His captains in the fight. Yet He did not plead duty as an excuse but came to the wedding with His disciples. If He did not plead urgency, how much less may people whose lives are filled with pleasure and selfishness!

B. Sympathy with Human Relationships. One object with Christ that day was to proclaim Himself divine. Another was to proclaim that the great purpose of His coming was His will to sanctify all that is human. He came not to destroy human nature and relations, but to fulfill them by reconnecting them with God. Christ came to unite, not to scatter. Our fault is not that we love too much but that we love too little. We shall not love home less by loving Christ more.

C. Sympathy with Human joys. Our chief joys and sorrows center in our homes. As at Bethany Christ relieved the deepest sorrows of a home, so at Cana He showed His sympathy with the joys and lesser anxieties of home. He was manifested as the Friend of human happiness. The fault is not that we are happy but that we are not happy enough. Earth’s sources of pleasure run dry, and at Cana Christ was manifested as the source of a joy that is richer. The poor flat wine of earthly joy is soon spent in the cask; so Christ came to give a joy that no man can take from us. They who seek Christ at Golgotha shall find Him, and they who seek Him at Cana shall find Him there also.

D. Sympathy with Human Feelings. We see in Christ the very essence of sympathy, which is not merely to feel with others but to enter into their feelings. His bounty was bestowed so secretly that none but the servants knew how near the little supply had been to failure, or how it had been replenished. Christ’s gifts of grace are given and best received secretly.

E. The Final Victory of Sympathy. What was done at Cana is a type of all Christ’s working and of the final banishment of sorrows when God shall wipe away all tears and the water of sorrow shall be turned into the wine of joy at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Till that consummation our duty is obedience, unquestioning, impartial, practical, personal, and its motto, “Do whatever He tells you.” We cannot share the Christian hope and comfort without rendering Christian obedience. Christ will only turn the water of purification into wine, but not that stained by sin, defiled by worldliness, and muddied by disobedience. If we keep His commandments, we shall attain His promises, of which it shall be said, “Thou hast kept the good wine until now.”

THE HOLY COMMUNION

In a modern congregation circumstances require the frequent reminder that all we are brethren, members of one body, who are to serve one another in love with whatever gifts we have received. The Holy Communion serves as such a reminder. St. Paul writes: “Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the same loaf” (1 Cor. 10:17). At the Lord’s Table we all partake of the same bread, eat a fragment broken from the same loaf. Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body. He describes the sympathy and loving concern the various members of the same body feel and show for one another. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:26). Into this relation with one another we enter anew as we eat of the same loaf at the Lord’s Table.

We eat and drink in remembrance of Him. He gives us His Body, which He gave into death out of love for us. He gives us His Blood, which He shed for the love of us. This reminds us of His love and keeps alive in us a deep affection for Him. But when He asked that we do this to remember Him, He was concerned not only about our love for Him but also about His followers’ love for one another. Their strength lay in their united affection, their oneness. His Kingdom was founded on truth and love. By love it was to conquer the kingdoms of this world. Not only love for Him but also love for one another was essential. He wanted to make sure that they wholeheartedly loved one another. What would hold them together in love? Their love for Him! If all loved Him, they must love one another. This love must keep them united. So He pleads with us to love Him always, because He wants us to love the other brethren who love Him.

Hidden behind these two desires was a third. He wants to be remembered and loved always, because He wants His friends to love and serve all needy men always. Unselfish, self-denying, humble service to our fellow men is to be our life, as it was His. It is a hard thing to expect of us. It is impossible unless we constantly keep true to our ideal of service by means of a lasting affection for Him. So He pleads: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Recall not only My Person but everything about Me. Remember how no service was too humble and lowly. Remember this, follow My example, and do it for Me. Reproduce Me in your lives, pattern after Me.

As we celebrate the Holy Communion this morning, may we not forget for a moment that we are doing it in remembrance of Him. There is probably little danger of our failing to recall that He gave His life to purchase for us forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. The words “for you” will assure us that in making the price paid for our forgiveness our own by eating and drinking, we have all that Christ purchased with that price. All that is His is ours — His righteousness, His perfection, His holiness, His glory. We should be strange people, indeed, if we could kneel again in spirit under the Cross and see the Son of God dying out of love for us, without, loving Him, too. If our Communion is not a mechanical thing, we shall remember Him and love Him the more, as we recall His sacred Person and glorious work of love.

But to do this in remembrance of Him means more. We are to remember Him also in His eagerness to find some means of keeping His followers united in their common affection for their Lord. As they remember Him, every disturbing element in their fellowship and in their love for one another is to disappear. The love we have for Him is to unite us. “Love one another even as I have loved you,” is His call to us this morning. If we love Him, we wish to please Him.

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