When is… the time right? And if it isn’t…? Are we still ready for Holy to happen?
In our readings today, Mary seems to know. She seems knows that the time is right for something Holy to burst forth. Now. Radical hospitality. Remember, it was Jesus, and his mother, and his friends, that have been invited to a celebration. They are the guests at the wedding. They are not the hosts. They are not the wedding coordinators. They are there to witness. To party. Have fun. I can just imagine the whispering and the finger-pointing, as Mary leans over to Jesus , covers her mouth and murmurs, “Look! They’ve run out of wine!” (John 2:3b).
And then, just like the son that he is, Jesus channels his best 12 year-old self. Remember how Jesus pushed back at his parents that time they thought they had lost their not-yet-teenage son for 3 days in the great city of Jerusalem… only to find him in the Temple? At that time he retorted, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I (would) be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:48b-50, NRSV) Here we are, years later, and Jesus steps into this mother-son relationship and says, “Who cares if the wine is gone? ‘Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time…’” (John 1:4, The Message).
This isn’t the time… and yet it is. Mary doesn’t hesitate. She turns to the “…servants, (and says) ‘Do whatever he tells you’” (John 2:5b). Suddenly this “not yet” time becomes a moment into which the Holy bursts forth. Abundance in scarcity. A Holy celebration in the midst of a very ordinary human event. A gathering of a community. A divine response to a need that wasn’t even perceived by the majority of people present. It was the right time for Holy to happen.
This is God’s delight. The pouring fourth of abundance from that which has run dry. In those human experiences that seem empty. Void. The Holy Happenings that emerge when God’s beloved are no longer called Forsaken. Discarded as Others. Those-who-we-should-keep-out. Those-who-we-shut-out.
It is time… beyond time… to affirm that each and every one of us is a child of God… and that we are to be called by a new name… and that name is Beloved. The living, breathing, responding affirmation of God’s delight in God’s creation. God creates and sees that it is good. God delights, and God rejoices.
God creates and rejoices in YOU. Each and everyone of us gathered here today. For whatever reason you got up out of bed and came here this morning, if you hear nothing else from me today… if you take away nothing other than these words… hear this day that God delights in you. YOU. You are God’s beloved. Named. And loved. And beloved.
“It’s none of our business. It isn’t our time.”
This week I reread the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf). King had written this letter in response to “a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South.” He was responding to their public statement that called out the black led movements in the south in 1963 as “unwise and untimely.” In this powerfully worded, prophetic letter, King notes that, “… we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.”
As we remember King this weekend, this week that falls on which would have been his 90th birthday, it seems appropriate for us to continue to the story. To see… and care about… the injustices which linger with a great sense of hopelessness today as we desperately seek community beloved.
Here, multiple stories intertwine. In our readings from Isaiah, we encounter the Israelite leaders who had been forcibly taken into exile by the Babylonians 60 years earlier, returning to that place, Jerusalem, where the Temple—that center that their faith had taught them was God’s place on earth—had been destroyed. Their understanding of who God is… and where God is… and how God is… had been torn apart… and it is that space of change and transition to which this third Isaiah (chapters 56-66) proclaims in their midst (and ours) today.
Reflecting on our own journey, there are those who point to the 1619 arrival of 20 people from Africa in Jamestown, Virginia, people forcibly taken from their homeland, as the start of the slave trade in the Americas: Thus this year, 2019, marks 400 years of history that continues to resonate in our communities.
We sooooo urgently want “community beloved”. And how God delights! But then we look around and need to acknowledge our reality: That the revelation of Beloved Community is “not yet.” Echoed in the life and prophetic voice of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “… Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it.“
This week, Madison365 shared a new report that indicates, “Wisconsin is the most segregated state in America.” The study defined, “…racial integration as the disparity between white and black Americans in terms of achieving wealth, employment, education, social engagement, and health,” and found that “African Americans in Wisconsin are less likely to be employed and more likely to make significantly less money than whites, even when employed. They are also less likely to have a high school diploma than white Wisconsinites.” This is not ancient news. Far away news. This is our news. This week’snews.
God delights in these prophetic voices. Holy Happenings turning over what we know, stirring the rich soil of change and hope so that something new can burst forth. In our newness, prophets can be found on social media. This week, King’s daughter, Bernice King, tweeted this on her father’s birthday:
“… This is my father at his most truth-telling, yet love-centered, self. Watch and share (in memory of) his 90th birthday.”
Note: Dr. King used language in this 1963 interview which might be a bit unsettling to us. Yet prophets use the language of their time to unsettle.
Click below for the link to the video on Twitter:
Beloved, this is our business—to step into “truth-telling, love-centered” conversations and relationships. It IS time. It is God’s time. The time for the Holy Happenings here… now… in our presence. YOU are beloved. We are God’s Beloved All. Seeking Beloved Community.
And God delights!
Reflection offered on Isaiah 62:1-5 and John 2:1-11 January 20, 2019
 King, Rev. Dr. Martine Luther, JR. Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Accessed January 18, 2019. https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf.
 “The Misguided Focus on 1619 as the Beginning of Slavery in the U.S. Damages Our Understanding of American History.” Smithsonian.com. September 13, 2017. Accessed January 19, 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/misguided-focus-1619-beginning-slavery-us-damages-our-understanding-american-history-180964873/.
 “The King Philosophy.” I Have A Dream | The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Accessed January 17, 2019. http://thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy/.
 Chappell, Robert, and Robert Chappell. “New Report: Wisconsin Is The Most Segregated State in America.” Madison365. January 16, 2019. Accessed January 19, 2019. https://madison365.com/new-report-wisconsin-is-the-most-segregated-state-in-america/.