Lawrence M. Stratton is assistant professor of ethics and constitutional law at Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, and director of the university’s Stover Center for Constitutional Studies and Moral Leadership.
Sometimes when I set out to preach from the Revised Common Lectionary I feel like calling someone from the Consultation on Common Texts to get the scoop on why the group settled on a particular set of pericopes. This week, Isaiah’s marriage metaphor and Jesus’ miraculous transformation of water into wedding wine are an obvious match. The rationale for including 1 Corinthians 12:1-11’s discussion of spiritual gifts is less clear.
In a famous 1970s television commercial, legendary movie actor and director Orson Welles held up a glass of wine. While Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony played in the background, Welles declared in his deep bass voice, speaking on behalf of a winemaker: “We will sell no wine before its time.”
Until now I never appreciated the beautiful message of this week’s Old Testament passage. God’s promises to Israel—to not be drowned by water or burned by fire—make this text almost as comforting to its readers as the 23rd psalm.
I was ordained last February, and since then I’ve been invited to preach at more than a dozen churches as a supply preacher. It’s always an adventure to pack up my minister’s gown and stole and drive to a new church. Last summer I found myself preaching at the opening worship service for a local fair.