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Build a Longer Table

Epiphany 4 Common Lectionary Year C (Gospel for Epiphany 2C)

John 2:1-11

©2019 Rev. Dr. Elisabeth Jones

Audio file

Did you notice that conversation between
Mary and her Son Jesus?
It used to bother me that Jesus seems, well, somehow less than “Jesus” at this moment,
but not anymore.
May I tell you why?
I love it that Jesus needs his Mom!
What does that say to us about the relationship
of holy with human?
It says that we need each other!
God needs us as much as we need God.
In case you think that’s heresy, think about it.
God is love, right? Without something to love,
God isn’t complete!
If God is love, then God-love is about
mutuality, reciprocity,
the blessing of one
to bring out the best in the other.
God needs us, like Jesus needs his Mom
We need God, like Jesus needs his Mom.

And why did Jesus need his Mom?
Let’s look at her and see, shall we?
Mary knew two things that day.
She knew that a wedding cannot run out
of food or wine, never!
And she knew her son.
She knew who he was: God’s son.
The one in whom God’s light shines most brightly,
in whom God has entrusted the holy human work
of healing, mending and abundant blessing
in this world.
Like many Moms,
she maybe knew him better than he knew himself.
After all, she was the one who had weaned him,
put him down for naps
when he thought he wasn’t tired,
who cajoled his first toddling steps,
called him out on his teenage wildness,
and nudged him forward into adulthood,
growing lankily into the grace he was born to.

As for Jesus,
I imagine Jesus a young man at this wedding.
Do you remember young?
When the serious business of adulting is still an option!
Jesus was having fun with his friends,
maybe his glass was still full, clueless of the impending disaster.
He needed his Mom to make him notice,
make him see,
make him care.

And we need that ourselves, don’t we?
This holy human conversation;
someone to help us imagine
what it is God is calling forth from us.
We sometimes don’t even notice the
trouble around us
until one, whom we love or respect,
comes up alongside us and says,
“Son, sister, brother, friend, they need you.
Son, sister, brother, friend, they are thirsty,
they are hungry,
they are homeless, they are in danger,
the world is getting too hot,
its heart is getting too cold.
The world needs you, now.”

And how many of us are like this Jesus,
groaning inwardly, looking around, like the barnyard animals to the Little Red Hen, saying
“Not I, now now.”
I think because many of us don’t easily imagine ourselves capable of taking on the cares of the world, of being enough to soothe or heal its hurts, and pains.
How would God possibly entrust such work to the likes of us?

But God does. All the time,
so thank God for this holy human community
where God’s call comes from the mouths of babes and mothers who believe in us,
from people who know us better than we know ourselves, and trust the God-given DNA within us, the Telos, (remember that word), and who smile, knowingly and say,
“You’ll do it. I know you will.
It’s what you’re made for!”


It’s about 4 years ago now that this meme first popped up.
(If you have more than enough, build a longer table, not a higher fence).
It’s become a popular poster, artwork, FB image,
it’s even become an Amnesty International slogan, in large part to respond to the counter message getting louder all the time, from the balcony of the White House, from Far-Right nationalists in Europe, and in this country, and indeed anywhere where there is someone to chant
“Build that wall, send them back,
stop them speaking this or that language, feed only the deserving..”
Mantras that are grounded in a two-fold belief that there isn’t enough to go round, and that we’re better alone than together.

To which Mary, who loves us says,
“That’s not the way of God
When you have enough, share,
when you have more than you need,
build a longer table, not a higher wall.”
And to which God, who loves all, says,
“That’s not the way of holy human community,
when you have enough, share,
and when you have more than you need,
build a longer table, not a higher wall.”

How? How can we do that, people of God?
What can we do to extend our table,
of welcome, belonging, care?

That’s our Vision 2020 question:
what will we do with that kitchen,
with our healing ministries
with our family and youth ministries
with our caring community ministries with seniors
with our food ministries?
in order to not build fences or walls,
but make our table long enough to include
as many as possible in God’s banquet of blessing?

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