The Servants Knew {The Grove: Thirsty}

The nine-week season between Christmas and Lent in the Church year is called Epiphany. It begins with a celebration of the Epiphany on January 6, which is recognition of the Magi from the East who followed the star seeking the young Jesus.

Epiphany is the revelation that from the beginning of His life, Jesus has been for all people everywhere, including the stranger.

It is often the stranger that is attuned to her thirst, not satisfied to quench it with anything less than Living Water. As Patty said so well, “Thirsty souls long for truths that satisfied souls ignore.”

The Magi arrived with limited information. Not until Jerusalem did they encounter the writings and prophecies that confirmed what they sensed.[1]

Thirst is a sense.

It’s a sense that’s heightened and developed by being foreign. So, we Velvet Ashes are poised to get thirsty. That’s a gift.

Because becoming alien lands us squarely in the company of Christ’s favorites – the poor, disabled, minority students, beggars, children, women, sinners, servants, migrant workers.

The Gospel reading for today from The Book of Common Prayer is the account of when Jesus turns water into wine.[2] Lauren Winner writes about loving the Scriptures in her newest book, Wearing God. Quoting rabbi Ben Bag Bag she writes, “Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it. Look deeply into it, and grow old with it, and spend time over it, and do not stir from it, because there is no greater portion. Turn it and turn it—there is always more to see.”

When I turn this story of water and wine, I see past Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, and the disciples who have just begun to follow Him. I look around Mary and her holy gumption. I see over the bridal couple, the host, and tipsy guests. When I turn this one enough, I finally see the servants.

The servants followed orders from Jesus who obeyed Mary, and filled the pots designated for ceremonial washing full to the brim with water. They are the ones in the parentheses when the host wonders how quality control got reversed.

(But the servants who had drawn the water knew.)[3]

These are favored ones, attending and observing Jesus work. They look to the hand of their Master.[4]

It’s not comfortable to be in that company, to be thirsty. We get squirmy. But having become kin with other disenfranchised, we are no longer free just to walk away when our numbers get called up.

When influence is gained in places that affirm women in leadership and develop them, or when resettled in a neighborhood where one’s race and class are the norm. We squirm there, too, because we have kin that are still thirsty.

Pay attention. Turn it and turn it. You’ll see them everywhere, these favored ones – the migrant bussing the table, the teammate shifting in his seat, the child stumbling to keep up, in great hymns, all over the Scriptures.

And in the mirror. Pay attention to the thirst for justice inside you, and get curious about it.

Maybe it’ll lead to epiphany.

What is your favorite Jesus story? What do you see when you turn it again?

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Then join us at The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions

 

[1] Matthew 2:4-6

[2] John 2:1-12

[3] John 2:9

[4] Psalm 123:2

20 Comments

  1. Anisha Hopkinson January 14, 2016

    With a lot of uncertainty in my life right now, I’ve been turning again and again to Matthew 6 – you know, the “don’t worry” passage. Realizing again that if we really boil it down there’s only one thing that matters – Jesus first.

    1. Anisha Hopkinson January 14, 2016

      Bahaha! I thought I was selecting a profile pic!

       

      1. Kimberly Todd January 14, 2016

        Very sweet picture! Such great smiles.

        Anisha, I love that teaching from Jesus. I can imagine him looking around and selecting the objects in sight, the birds and the flowers, to show how tender  God’s care is. Thanks for commenting!

      2. Leslie Verner January 16, 2016

        I did the SAME THING last week!  (mine was of my HUGE FACE, so I begged Amy Young to take it off!)  Yours is adorable;-)

  2. Michele Womble January 14, 2016

    Hi Kimberly!  Thank you for your post…I’m having internet trouble right now…so I’ll be back tomorrow (hope it’s working better then).

    1. Kimberly Todd January 15, 2016

      Hi, Michele! I look forward to hearing from you have access. Thanks for leaving a trace!

  3. Elizabeth January 15, 2016

    So much to love in this post, Kimberly, I don’t even know where to begin!

    Well, for starters, I love the commentary on the servants. I love the way you described how you turned the story and turned it again and turned it again. Imagery I’ve never thought of before. 🙂

    And your statement that from the very beginning, Jesus was for everyone. This. This truth is one I’m holding on to this week. For some reason the story of Melchizidek has grabbed me and hasn’t let go. I’ve always been rather baffled by it, honestly. Who was this dude?? And for some reason the idea of Israel being the “chosen” people had really been getting under my skin lately. Why only them?? Why not everyone?? I didn’t go back to Melchizidek on purpose, we were just scheduled to read about Abraham in my daughters’ homeschool lessons. (Now, you should know the stories of Abraham are some of my very favorite, most cherished stories in the O.T.) Anyway, going back to Abraham, which I hadn’t done in a while, reminded me of Melchizidek, and this time instead of being baffled by it, the story suddenly gave me hope. God was talking to someone else during Abraham’s life!! And that person answered!! (Yes I know some people think he was the pre-incarnate Christ, but not everyone thinks that.) Which gave me such great hope that not everyone outside of the nation of Israel perished eternally (which is, I think, what was getting under my skin). God could have been talking to those people to. And of course all throughout the O.T. God is extending his love and his family to outsiders. Ruth. Rahab. Even the Ninevites. So there’s a lot to hope for here.

    Anyway, I share that because it’s the whole alien/foreigner thing. God always welcomed the foreigners into His midst. Jesus is for everyone. And I’m so thankful.

    And something else — about Epiphany. Was reading in Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s book “Circle of Seasons” about Epiphany being about light. About the entire Advent/Christmas/Epiphany cycle being about light, actually, and how it culminates in Candlemas (40 after Christmas, to commemorate the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the prophecies of Anna and Simeon — I didn’t know any of this stuff beforehand). Anyway, Advent being about expecting the light, and Zechariah’s prophecy is in there, and Christmas is about the Light having come, and Epiphany about the Light being revealed to the Gentiles (Magi, another favorite for me because God is including outsiders — He spoke and they listened!), and the Presentation is about the confirmation of that inclusivity.

    I was glad to be drawn back to this idea of Light, and I was reminded of where Jesus talks about having bad eyes and good eyes and good eyes filling the whole body with light and bad eyes meaning we are full of darkness. Well, I had been seeing a lot of darkness in my eyes, and I knew it was affecting my whole life, and I want good eyes and a body and life full of Light. Anyway, not totally related to your post here, but it’s what I’ve been studying this week, and it’s at least slightly related to the verses you used 🙂

    So I guess all that to say I have definitely been thirsty for God this week, and He’s been satisfying.

    One more thing — there’s this song that’s been in my head this week, I learned it over New Year’s. It’s by Audrey Assad and it’s just a chorus (she has a clear, beautiful voice): “I shall not want, no I shall not want, when I taste Your goodness, I shall not want.” Adopting the chorus for myself . . .

    1. Kimberly Todd January 15, 2016

      Elizabeth, there’s so much to love in your comment!

      I’m listening to “I Shall Not Want” right. now. So good. Thank you. It’s thrilling to hear how your thirst and God’s source have converged this week. It flows out in your words here, and when I first read your comment early this morning, it was such an encouraging way to start a day.

      I, too, crave good eyes and a body and life full of light.

    2. Michele Womble January 17, 2016

      “God was talking to someone else during Abraham’s life!! And that person answered!!”

      Yeah, I get excited about that, too, Elizabeth.  I also love that there is provision made for the “alien” in Israel – that the alien is assigned a place among them if he wants it and that gives me hope…God was always looking back and forward from the cross, I think.

      1. Elizabeth January 17, 2016

        “God was always looking back and forward from the cross.”

        YESSSSSSSSSSS. The notion brings tears (good tears) to my eyes.

      2. Kimberly Todd January 18, 2016

        Michele and Elizabeth, I’m reading Learning From the Stranger: Christian Faith and Cultural Diversity by David Smith alongside my Intercultural Communication students, and loving it. In the first chapter Smith “reinterprets” Abraham’s encounter with Abimeleck in Genesis 20, that it was the foreign king Abimeleck that encountered God and therefore acted in wisdom. I think we often want to make God communicating with and through the stranger the anomaly, but in fact, there are enough of these to show that it is God “looking back and forward” to the cross of Christ. I so appreciate your stimulating comments in this conversation.

        1. Elizabeth January 18, 2016

          Thank you for sharing that, Kimberly!!

           

           

  4. Bessie January 16, 2016

    I think that many of us in Ministry do not know how much we thirst? We have gone for so long with little hydration that it becomes normal to us. Even when we return home, many of us are ministering on Sundays and don’t get fed. We spend time with a few good Christian friends, but we don’t always realize that there is the possibility of greater fellowship and nourishment in the Body.

    We must get into the Word and drink deeply even when we are not thirsty.  Once this becomes a habit, we will begin to thirst for more.

    1. Kimberly Todd January 16, 2016

      Too true, Bessie. I love how you identified the Word as both the source and the satisfaction of our thirst.

    2. Michele Womble January 17, 2016

      Spring Davis wrote in her link-up (SNASZZ Family Adventures) that sometimes you don’t realize how thirsty you are until you start drinking.  I’ve been there – I start drinking a glass of water and suddenly find I’m guzzling it and think, “wow, I didn’t realize I had gotten that thirsty” – because, like you said, Bessie, I’ve gotten USED to being thirsty (physically) in a culture that doesn’t drink as much water as I was used to (at one time) drinking (they hydrate in other ways that I had not adjusted to, yet).  Those two things go hand in hand – we get used to being thirsty spiritually, and we’re so used to it that often we don’t even realize that we ARE thirsty, until we begin to drink deeply.

  5. Leslie Verner January 16, 2016

    Kim, this is so beautiful.  I find I have to read your words very slowly and “drink” them in because they are so profound;-)  I love the idea of turning a story around and around to view it from every perspective.  I just started studying Daniel, so I am carrying your words into this new study and will turn the verses and stories until I can see the characters that I might have missed before.

    And I think we don’t always look at the advantages of being an “alien” in a foreign land–how that throws us into the lot of needy people who Jesus sought out on a regular basis.  How thirst ends up being a blessing and not a curse, because it heightens our senses as we seek to be fulfilled by Christ Himself.  Love your thoughts today.  Thank you for sharing from your heart!

    1. Kimberly Todd January 16, 2016

      Leslie, thank you for your kind words. And wow, you got right to the marrow of it in two sentences. =) Your Thirsty post fed me as I worked on this one.

  6. Michele Womble January 17, 2016

    Well, we’re still having internet trouble but it’s up right now I’m going to see if I can get this posted before it goes down again… 🙂

    So I’ll quickly share my favorite part just in case:

    “But the servants who had drawn the water knew.” 

    These are favored ones, attending and observing Jesus work. They look to the hand of their Master…

    and We squirm there, too, because we have kin that are still thirsty.

     

    We are the thirsty – and now we will always be remembering our “kin” who are thirsty.  We’re also the servants who drew the water.  And we know …although we don’t get exactly how He did it…we know by WHOSE word it became wine after we had drawn it…I’ll be thinking about this all week.  Keep drawing that water – somehow He always makes it more than enough. For us and for all our “kin”.

    1. Kimberly Todd January 18, 2016

      Thanks for persisting to comment even with connectivity issues, Michele! I love how you’ve described here how abundance works. It’s not diminished in the sharing, it’s expanded.

    2. Elizabeth January 19, 2016

      I recently heard another homeschool mom turn this story in another direction — that Jesus could have made wine out of nothing, but He instead asked them to fill the pots with water first, and only after that would He work a miracle. Somewhat like the feeding of the 5000 from the bread and fish, He could have made food from nothing. After all He had created matter out of nothing before! But He wants us to bring what we’ve got, and let Him do the miracle.

      Anyway, not the same turning as Kimberly focused on (and which I love — “but the servants who had drawn the water knew” — oh that God would let me see the backstory to some of His miracles!), but it’s a turning that made a big impact on me this week. 🙂

      And come back and say more, if your internet ever recovers, Michele 🙂

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