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Getting through Giving

2010 January 23
by Gordon Reid

I’m contemplating a sermon for tomorrow based on the three “wonders” of the Epiphany: the Magi at Bethlehem; the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan; and the Marriage in Cana of Galilee. The common theme is that Jesus was thought to be the object, but turned out to be the subject.

What I mean is that
1) the Wise men thought they were giving gifts to the mysterious King of the Jews, whereas in fact they were receiving from him the gift of salvation through their meeting with God in human flesh;
2) John the Baptist was giving all who came to him the symbol of cleansing of sins by washing in the Jordan, but (as he said himself) he could not give this to Jesus who was sinless, but in fact recognized him as the Lamb of God who alone could bring real forgiveness and new life; and
3) Jesus was a wedding guest as Cana (and maybe the one who caused them to run out of wine – “Bring a friend” is fine – but twelve?) but he turned out to be the one who solved the problem by giving a great volume of the best wine they had ever tasted.

The theme, therefore, is Jesus the giver – the giver who gave till it hurt (I wonder which hurt the most – the nails of the Cross or the broken heart, when one of his twelve closest friends who had been at Cana handed him over to the police?)

And then, of course, since I’m incapable of preaching a sermon that doesn’t finish up in the guts of the Blessed Trinity (not my vulgarity, Paul’s “splangthizomai” “bowels of compassion” etc), I will no doubt end up with the original gift from God of life itself and then, when we broke his gift, the love that came to mend it even though it took the pain and suffering of God the Son “taking it like a man” (as we say), but in reality “giving it like God”.

The more we stick around God and watch him give, the quicker we will learn to stop grabbing stuff that slips away. As a Country & Western song puts it “You only keep what you give away”.

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