Second Sunday After Epiphany: The First of His Signs
When Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, it was “the first of His signs,” by which He “manifested His glory” (John 2:11). It pointed to His coming “hour,” when He was lifted up on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins and the life of the world (John 2:4; 12:23–32). The glory of the cross is incomprehensible apart from the Word and Spirit of God, but disciples of Jesus recognize that glory in the signs of His Gospel, and so they believe in Him. Jesus does not wait for His disciples to discover Him on their own, but He seeks out the forsaken and the desolate and unites them to Himself. He adorns them with His own beautiful righteousness and delights in them “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride” (Is. 62:4–5). Purified by the washing of water with His Word in Holy Baptism, His disciples confess that “Jesus is Lord,” and they return thanks to Him “in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3), as they drink the good wine that He pours out for them, which is the new testament in His blood.
Readings Appointed for Today
Introit: Ps. 66:1–5, 20; antiphon: Ps. 66:4, 92:1
Old Testament: Ex. 33:12–23 or Amos 9:11-15
Psalmody: Psalm 67 (antiphon: v. 1) or Psalm 111 (antiphon: v. 9)
Epistle: Ephesians 5:22-33 or Romans 12:6-16
Gradual: Psalm 107:20-21
Verse: Psalm 148:2
Gospel: John 2:1-11
From Luther’s Church Postil on the Gospel for Today
“Hence the highest thought in this Gospel lesson, and it must ever be kept in mind, is, that we honor God as being good and gracious, even if he acts and speaks otherwise, and all our understanding and feeling be otherwise. For in this way feeling is killed, and the old man perishes, so that nothing but faith in God’s goodness remains, and no feeling. For here you see how his mother retains a free faith and holds it forth as an example to us. She is certain that he will be gracious, although she does not feel it. She is certain also that she feels otherwise than she believes. Therefore she freely leaves and commends all to his goodness, and fixes for him neither time nor place, neither manner nor measure, neither person nor name. He is to act when it pleases him. If not in the midst of the feast, then at the end of it, or after the feast. My defeat I will swallow, his scorning me, letting me stand in disgrace before all the guests, speaking so unkindly to me, causing us all to blush for shame. He acts tart, but he is sweet I know. Let us proceed in the same way, then we are true Christians. … Observe, God and men proceed in contrary ways. Men set on first that which is best, afterward that which is worse. God first gives the cross and affliction, then honor and blessedness. This is because men seek to preserve the old man; on which account they instruct us to keep the Law by works, and offer promises great and sweet. But the outcome is stale, the result has a vile taste; for the longer it goes on the worse is the condition of conscience, although, being intoxicated with great promises, it does not feel its wretchedness; yet at last when the wine is digested, and the false promises gone, the wretchedness appears. But God first of all terrifies the conscience, sets on miserable wine, in fact nothing but water; then, however, he consoles us with the promises of the Gospel which endure forever.” Source.
Bach’s Cantata, BWV 155, for the Second Sunday of Epiphany
This Cantata reflects the reality of what Luther describes in his sermon, that at times in life we feel ourselves removed from God and find ourselves wondering and doubting His care for us. But it is finally His Word of the Gospel that consoles and comforts us, bringing Jesus to us.
Text of the Cantata
Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange?
My God, how long, ah how long?
Des Jammers ist zuviel,
my misery is too much,
Ich sehe gar kein Ziel
I see no end at all
Der Schmerzen und der Sorgen!
to my sorrows and anxieties!
Dein süßer Gnadenblick
Your sweet look of mercy
Hat unter Nacht und Wolken sich verborgen,
is hidden beneath night and clouds,
Die Liebeshand zieht sich, ach! ganz zurück,
your loving hand, alas, has been completely withdrawn,
Um Trost ist mir sehr bange.
I am most anxious about my comfort.
Ich finde, was mich Armen täglich kränket,
Each day in my wretchedness I find something that pains me,
Der Tränen Maß wird stets voll eingeschenket,
my cup of tears is always filled to overflowing
Der Freuden Wein gebricht:
but I have no wine of joy
Mir sinkt fast alle Zuversicht.
Almost all my reassurance sinks.
Aria (Duetto) [Alto, tenor]
Du musst glauben, du musst hoffen,
You must believe, you must hope
Du musst gottgelassen sein!
You must be calm before God!
Jesus weiß die rechten Stunden,
Jesus knows the right time
Dich mit Hilfe zu erfreun.
to make you rejoice with his help,
Wenn die trübe Zeit verschwunden,
when the troubled times have vanished
Steht sein ganzes Herz dir offen.
His whole heart will be open to you.
So sei, o Seele, sei zufrieden!
Then be, O soul, be at peace!
Wenn es vor deinen Augen scheint,
if it seems to your eyes
Als ob dein liebster Freund
that your dearest friend
Sich ganz von dir geschieden;
has gone away from you completely;
Wenns er dich kurze Zeit verlässt,
if he has left you for a short time
Herz! glaube fest,
heart ! Have firm faith
Es wird ein Kleines sein,
it will only be for a little
Da er für bittre Zähren
before in place of your bitter tears
Den Trost- und Freudenwein
he will grant you the wine of consolation and joy
Und Honigseim für Wermut will gewähren!
And fresh honey in place of wormwood!
Ach! denke nicht,
Ah, do not think
Dass er von Herzen dich betrübe,
that he causes you sorrow from his heart,
Er prüfet nur durch Leiden deine Liebe,
he is only testing your love through suffering,
Er machet, dass dein Herz bei trüben Stunden weine,
he makes you weep during times of trouble
Damit sein Gnadenlicht
so the light of his grace
Dir desto lieblicher erscheine;
may shine on you more dearly;
Er hat, was dich ergötzt,
what delights you he has
for the end
Zu deinem Trost dir vorbehalten;
kept back for your consolation.
Drum lass ihn nur, o Herz, in allem walten!
Therefore,o heart, let him rule in all things!
Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Wirf, mein Herze, wirf dich noch
Throw yourself,my heart, just throw yourself
In des Höchsten Liebesarme,
into the loving arms of the Almighty,
Dass er deiner sich erbarme.
so that he may feel compassion for you.
Lege deiner Sorgen Joch,
Place the yoke of your cares
Und was dich bisher beladen,
and what has burdened you up till now
Auf die Achseln seiner Gnaden.
on the shoulders of his grace.
Chorale [S, A, T, B]
Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll’Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo
Ob sichs anließ, als wollt er nicht,
Although it may seem as if he is not willing,
Laß dich es nicht erschrecken,
do not be alarmed
Denn wo er ist am besten mit,
for when he is closest to you
Da will ers nicht entdecken.
He does not reveal himself.
Sein Wort lass dir gewisser sein,
Let his word be more certain for you
Und ob dein Herz spräch lauter Nein,
and although your heart only says no
So lass doch dir nicht grauen.
do not let yourself be terrified.