A Cinderella People
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; (Is. 62)
Reading the scriptures this week, I thought of the story of Cinderella. When her loving parents died, a young maiden was left with nothing but a selfish, hardened Aunt and two spoiled cousins, who make her life miserable and name her “Cinderella.”Unbeknown to her, while walking in the woods, she meets a real prince and each experience “love at first sight,” but they both have to return to their respective lives: The Prince to his castle and Cinderella back her pots and pans and house cleaning. The Prince, wanting to find her again, arranges a royal ball and invites all the maidens of the land, and the usual royal types, attend. The mean Aunt and jealous cousins do everything they can to prevent Cinderella from attending the Royal Ball, but finally, with the help of a Fairy Godmother, Cinderella is able to attend in style. When the Prince sees her, he is overwhelmed with love and desire. They dance and win the admiration of all, but when the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella must leave hastily, losing her glass slipper, and returns home. The Prince organizes a search for the maiden who fits the slipper and finally, with much difficulty, finds Cinderella and makes her his wife and future Queen. A very happy ending ensues.
Why recount the story of Cinderella in a sermon? The reason is because the story of Israel, and indeed, the Church, is a Cinderella story. God never loses sight of those God loves and chooses. Israel went through many trials and conflicts, within and without, but God never abandoned her. The Church of God, in the eyes of the world a Cinderella, experiences many trials, within and without, but the Prince, Jesus, finds her and brings new hope and life. Jesus the Bridegroom makes this “Cinderella” his Bride.
The human state of Marriage is a symbol of the Covenant between Christ and the Church. The Church looks poor and dirty, like Cinderella, but has a real beauty, hidden by all the grime. The Holy Spirit, like the Fairy Godmother in the story who helped Cinderella get to the Ball, will help the Church get to the Marriage Feast of Jesus the Lord and Prince of Peace. I hope the analogy doesn’t limp too much!
When Paul says “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit,” he is talking about a profound statement of loyalty and love. Paul as a Roman citizen was so familiar with the statement (and who knows, maybe he had to declare it on occasion himself) that “Caesar is Lord.” The Romans really meant it: Caesar was their Lord and Master. If a person didn’t confess that truth when required, they would face the death penalty. For believers in Jesus, on the other hand, to confess “Jesus is Lord” put them in direct opposition to the Roman Empire. The Romans could say “Cursed be Jesus” with impunity, but Jesus’ followers would be put to death if they refused to worship Caesar. We’re talking real politics here: Where does your fundamental loyalty lie? Is it with Caesar, representing the powers of this world, or Jesus?
Jesus wasn’t planning on it, but his first “Sign” of who he was happened at a wedding in Cana. Jesus and his disciples had been invited to the wedding along with his mother. Weddings then were long, festive occasions, lasting some days. Plenty of wine was essential for the celebration. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother, asks Jesus to do something about it, and then walks away. Obedient to his mother, Jesus sees six large stone jars, used in Jewish ritual washings for purification, has them refilled with water, which is transformed into the best wine the experienced steward ever tasted.
Recently at a wedding I used this “miracle” text to tell the couple that they were the miracle. Jesus was transforming their lives (we’re 90% water aren’t we?) into the best wine- love that would never run out for as long as they lived. Isn’t it true, a marriage of two people, with all their individual backgrounds, differences, and experiences, who stay together for the rest of their natural lives, is a miracle of God’s grace! Don’t you agree?
This is nice interpretation I think for a wedding sermon, but the story of Jesus changing the water into wine has an even deeper meaning. Jesus calls for the “ritual” water jars used by the Jews to purify themselves for ritual (they weren’t for drinking) and when they are refilled with water, Jesus transforms the water into the finest wine ever. Jesus is replacing the ritual vessels with the New Wine of his Kingdom come. This is, pardon the pun, a real “sea-change” of perspective: Jesus is the new Lord, over all kingdoms of the world and all the people of the earth, good or bad, are invited to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. Jesus is the Lamb who was sacrificed for them (and all of us) that they might be saved from the harm they do to each other.
Every Holy Eucharist is a foreshadowing of the Marriage Feast: fine Bread and Wine enjoyed now by a community, regarded by many as a Cinderella people. The Good News is the Prince will find us!
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.
|The Reverend John Smith, Vicar|
5235-6674 cell telephone (502 country code)
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE
|The Most Reverend Julio Murray, Archbishop and Primate, IARCA|
|The Right Reverend Silvestre Romero, Bishop of Guatemala|