Sermon for Sunday January 17, 2015
January 17, 2015
“My hour has not yet come.” – Jesus to his mother, John 2:4
In this morning’s gospel lesson, it seems strange that Jesus would in one moment say, “My hour has not yet come,” and in the next change water into wine. It seems that – contrary to what Jesus just said – His hour did come. But, as impressive a feat as it was for Jesus to change water into wine, changing water into wine was not yet His hour; to change water into wine is not why He came into the world. Five times more in John’s Gospel, Jesus would do an impressive sign. Yet none of these was His “hour;” for none of these did Jesus come into the world.
Jesus’ “hour” was his crucifixion. Looking ahead to chapter 12, shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus says:
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit… It is for this reason that I have come to this hour… Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
As wonderful as it was to change water into wine, as amazing as it was to open the eyes of the man born blind or to raise Lazarus from the dead, those are not the reasons why Jesus came into the world. Jesus came into the world to be “lifted up” that he might “draw all people to [him]self.” That was Jesus’ purpose; that was His destiny.
Each of us has an “hour” that either has or will come. Each of us has been given gifts and placed in a certain place and invited to manifest Christ’s glory in that place. When our “hour” comes, those gifts, the world’s need and Christ’s glory all come together as “we shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory,” as today’s Collect puts it.
Spencer Stone’s, Anthony Sadler’s and Alex Skarlatos’ hours came. They were the three young Americans who foiled a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train this past August. They didn’t know their hour was coming, but when they heard the shots and saw the assailant, they knew what they needed to do. Disregarding their own safety, they wrestled him to the ground and saved dozens of lives.
Frances Perkins’ hour came. Frances was a young, well-educated, socially-connected woman in New York drinking tea in a friend’s home across the street from the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in Manhattan when the infamous fire broke out. She watched with horror as women jumped out of upper-story windows to escape the flames. She quit her job as a professor of sociology at a local college and dedicated her life to workers’ rights, eventually becoming FRD’s Secretary of Labor. Francis Perkins’ “hour” came.
Dorothy Day’s hour came. Not in a sudden kind of way like the three young Americans or Frances Perkins, but gradually over the course of years. Though she flirted early with religion – even spending a brief time and being Confirmed in the Episcopal – she felt an emptiness and hunger in the bohemian lifestyle she led as a young woman. Bit by bit, she found both her faith and her calling as a social activist and founding the Catholic Worker Movement.
Each of us has an “hour” that has come or will come that is a convergence of the gifts God has given us, what our world needs, and how Jesus is seeking to manifest Himself in the world. That “hour” may come early in life or late; it may come all of the sudden or gradually; it may be an “hour” that is noteworthy and seen by others, or an “hour’ that is quiet and hidden from view. Our “hour” will at once look different from everybody else’s – unique only to us – and at the same will look remarkably familiar… For our “hour” will look like His hour: something that only we can do, something that this world needs us to do, something that involves commitment and self-offering, that brings pain and joy, something in which we will die to ourselves and rise to new life.
To help us in our “hour,” we have spread before us today a wedding feast. As we are faithful in listening to His Word, as we are faithful in being here at this altar – as we are faithful in “being illumined by [His] Word and Sacraments,” as the Collect puts it – our lives will gradually be converted – charged – until we shine with the radiance of His glory. And our “hour” will share in His hour, and with His help we might manifest His light to our darkened world.