Good morning everyone and I hope you are all well. Today’s service is based around the wedding in Cana, this was Jesus’ very first public miracle and as I said last week a big jump in his life from the visitation of the wise men as we try to cram his life story into one year. As we are in the new year we are looking forward to better prospect in terms of health, weather, perhaps holidays and today focusses on a happy time of celebration which I hope you will enjoy at some point in the coming year.
Our reflection today is by Rev Peter and our intercessions by Arthur Greaves, many thanks to them both.
Take care and God bless
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and forever. Amen.
Almighty God our heavenly Father we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly king, almighty God and Father. We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ only son of the Father Lord God Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One , you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most high, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
THE NEW TESTAMENT READING
1 CORINTHIANS 12. 1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John. Glory to you O Lord.
JOHN 2. 1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
The first “sign” that John records, in his gospel, is the turning of water into wine at a wedding. Some of us are – we think – familiar with the story. And it is a lovely story – a happy story – a success story where things turn out happily. It has a party-feel!
Let me introduce one or two puzzles. Why aren’t we told whose wedding it is? The happy couple are basically invisible. Jesus seems unnecessarily sharp with his mother – one sharp element in otherwise a happy story – but she seems to know he will do something. The master-of-ceremonies doesn’t know what has happened but the servants do. And lastly that is a lot of wine – about 120 gallons, and wine in those days was strong and served diluted. Quite a party! But there are some deeper things to think about in this happy story.
Some scholars think the bride-groom was responsible for the wine at a wedding. Jesus becomes the bride-groom as he provides the wine, even though he has pointed out his time has not come – it will not come until the Cross where his blood will be poured out
One image of the church is as the bride to the bridegroom; one image of God’s love for us is of groom for his bride. This “sign” is about a full marriage celebration with the best wine flowing; an image of the coming of the Kingdom, which Jesus has made happen. Note it happens “on the third day” which has a resurrection hint. As we read on in the gospel we will find Jesus drinking the bitter wine, on the cross; if we put the whole lot together we see this is so we can enjoy the best wine at the party. God takes the dross and gives the best.
So the bridegroom is invisible so we can see Jesus fulfil the role, and there is a tension about timing because our salvation and invitation cannot come without the cost of the Cross. And in God’s world sometimes the poor and outcast have a privileged place and know more than the more powerful!
The wine is both the opposite of the bitter wine, and also in contrast with the blood of Jesus shed for us. Our gift at God’s expense / cost.
There is a generosity- a happy generosity – and a profound depth in this story which says something about the heart of God, and the depth of his love.
Communion is a foretaste of this wedding to come, of our invitation. Hopefully we can find a way to share the wine soon, as it is part of the deep rich symbolism of the sacrament.
I believe in God the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
During the intercessions, we pray for the church, our country, our government, people in difficulty and those who have died. You can use your own prayers or if you prefer here are some on today’s theme.
Drawn by God’s love and constant faithfulness to us, let us pray.
Gracious God, your Son Jesus began his ministry at a wedding celebration and through the miracle of the wine showed us the abundance of your love for us. May Jesus continue to transform the water of our everyday lives into his kingdom on earth, transforming by his love the ordinary into the extra ordinary.
Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.
Father God, we pray for those we know who will be married during the coming year; be with them as they make their plans and give them patience and understanding when things are difficult . In their growing love for each other may they come to know you as the source of all love and help them to rejoice in their shared memories of joy and laughter, sadness or disappointment.
Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.
If you fail to see the person but only the disability , who is blind?
If your heart and mind do not reach out to your neighbours, who is handicapped?
If you cannot hear your brother or sister’s cry for justice, who is deaf? Christ of the pilgrim path, and of every pilgrim heart, thank you for revealing yourself in situations we would prefer to pass by. Christ, who brought us from the rest of last night to light of this new day, bring us from the light of this day into the guiding light of eternity.
Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.
We pray for those whose lives feel empty and lack meaning. We pray for the sick and for those known to us or unknown whose frailty, pain or illness makes it difficult to pray.
Mighty God we pray for those who have departed this life and ask you, through your loving kindness, to have mercy on their souls. We pray too for those bereaved by their passing and from our book of remembrance – Samuel Scowcroft, Robert Inglis Percy, Rebecca Council and Margaret Ratcliffe
. Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.
An after Christmas prayer: When the song of the angels stills, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and the princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins,
To find the lost, last and least, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner. To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among people To make music in the heart.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in Heaven hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us and watch over us, make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us. May the Lord look kindly on us and give us peace, and the blessing of God almighty, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit be among us and with us all always. Amen.