Epiphany 2C                                              Jan 16, 2022,                            St. John, New Orleans

When I was in college, we had a classmate who was very gifted. 

Not only was he a good student with good grades, 

but he was also what most people would consider handsome. 

He always drove new vehicles and wore nice clothing. 

But unfortunately, he had an attitude of superiority about him that was quite off-putting after a while and therefore, was not very popular. 

Every positive thing about him was a gift he did not earn. 

And every negative thing about him stemmed from his inability to recognize that. 

I felt sorry for him because, despite his giftedness., 

he was lonely and constantly trying to prove his worth, 

if he were owed that by virtue of his short life. 

Consequently, his giftedness was squandered those four years 

and he returned to his father's ranch with only a degree to show for his time away. 

Instead of leveraging his giftedness to improve his situation with others and start a career, 

he unwittingly used it to push others away from himself 

by his unwanted arrogance and conceit.

Perhaps you know someone like this? 

They could have the world by the tail if only they would apply themselves. 

They could have the greatest marriage and family life possible if they could only appreciate it. 

They could really advance their career if only they would listen to the advice there of their bosses and peers.

There is an old saying, “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” 

it comes from the practice of looking at a horses teeth when buying one to determine its approximate age, and, therefore, it's worth. 

Therefore, if gifted with a horse,

looking in its mouth would be like checking for price tags on a Christmas present

or looking up an item online so that you might know how expensive the gift

Regardless of the age, a horse is not an insignificant gift in most cases as they are such magnificent creatures

So too are the gifts of God always of value and should never be looked down upon or squandered.

On this second Sunday after the Epiphany, we hear that the good things in life are gifts from God. 

Whether that is the good reputation and standing enjoyed by Israel in the book of Isaiah, 

the free flowing wine at the wedding in Cana,

or the various spiritual gifts given to God's people by his Holy Spirit,

 each and every one of them has its origin in God, and not from within us.

Moreover, these gifts are not consumables like the Christmas cookies you exchanged last month, 

but, instead, are intended by God to be used by us to extend his mission to the world. 

That is, you and I are given these various gifts from God for his purpose. 

And that purpose is centered upon this world and the people in it. 

we are gifted to be givers. 

We have been blessed to be a blessing.

So, let's take a moment to talk about these gifts. 

We begin with life itself. 

from conception, we are a creature of God's design. 

And one for whom Christ died for in order to forgive your sins. 

Next, we have the gift of faith 

which holds onto and trusts the promise of Jesus to forgive and to save. 

And which moves us to live our lives according to his will and not our own.            

Then, we have the gift of baptism 

which provides a tangible sign for all of those promises,

 sealed in the name of the triune God, 

and demonstrated by physical washing with actual water. 

And lastly the gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out on his church. 

We see a considerable number of them listed in first Corinthians chapter 12. 

But I think one of the key verses is verse seven. 

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 

in other words those spiritual gifts are made tangible, that is, manifested. 

But they are to benefit everyone. That is, the common good.

You are part of that gifted church 

and these gifts have been manifested in you and me in many and various ways. 

And we've been given them for the common good. 

That is, shared good, 

for the good of all 

or for the type of things everyone needs.