Morning Worship for 24th January 20212 days ago
As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing on-line. As you go through this time of worship try to remember this reality; you are in the presence of God who holds us all in His care and keeping.
This day water is made wine at the wedding feast. I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, Coming down out of heaven from God, Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying, Behold, the dwelling of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them and they shall be his peoples, And God himself will be with them. Behold, I make all things new; I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift From the spring of the water of life.
Collect for the day
Almighty God, Whose Son revealed in signs and miracles The wonder of your saving presence: Renew your people with your heavenly grace, And in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power; 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.
Our Declaration of faith
All the earth, shout and sing for joy, For great in your midst is the Holy One. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and will not be afraid; For the Lord God is my strength and my song, And has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. On that day you will say, Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name; Make known his deeds among the nations, Proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing God’s praises, who has triumphed gloriously, Let this be known in all the world. Shout and sing for joy, you that dwell in Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. All the earth, shout and sing for joy, For great in your midst is the Holy One.
Isaiah 12: 2-6
Hymn: Lord, thy word abideth.
Readings: Genesis 14: 17-20, Revelation 19: 6-10.
Hymn: O for a thousand tongues to sing.
Gospel Reading: John 2: 1-11.
Reflection on the Wedding in Cana of Galilee
Today we engage in the third of the divine epiphanies of Jesus
The first was the Magi bringing their gifts and proclaiming the birth of Jesus to the Gentiles
The second was the voice of God which came to Jesus at his Baptism
And the third is Christ’s first miracle, the revealing of the power of God which rested within him upon which he could call and through which God revealed himself once more
Being invited to a wedding is always a special occasion, I am sure that most of you will have been invited to someone’s wedding at some point in your lives. I have officiated at hundreds of weddings throughout my ministry and each one of them have been very special occasions. However inevitably there will be those which we remember more than others simply because of something which happened which made them stand out and be extra memorable, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes because of some slight mishap or two.
I can remember a wedding where it was not the bride who was late but the groom, and I can recall having to send the poor bride for an extra drive in the car three times before her future husband thankfully turned up.
I can remember officiating at my nephews wedding in a strange church and arriving to find the marriage registers still locked inside the safe with no one present with a key?
One memorable occasion was a wedding complete with several celebrities held in one of my smallest churches in Durham, where the number of floral decorations were so large and numerous that we could hardly get the guests in.
Then of course the extra special grand occasions of local dignitaries and personal friends with free flowing champagne and specially ordered and crafted wedding designer venues.
All very memorable for a variety of different reasons and this wedding to which Jesus had been invited was no exception, Jewish weddings at this time went on for a week, it was not just over in a day, wedding guests would come and go all the time, so a ready supply of wine and refreshments always needed to be available.
Indeed such was the heavy expectation placed upon the bride and groom that not to be able to provide for family and friends and especially those who had been specially invited would have been costly to the standing of the couple in the midst of their society, not a great way to start their new life together.
Hospitality was key, however on this occasion the wine did indeed run out, perhaps it was near the end of the celebrations and the couple had simply under estimated what would be needed or perhaps more guests had arrived including the disciples of Jesus which simply stretched things a bit too far, but run out they did
Now in such circumstance you would have thought that it would be the Father of the Bride, who would have stepped in at this point, after all it is normally he who ends up footing the bill, but in this case it is Jesus’ Mother who takes the initiative, showing that this wedding could well have been that of someone very close to the family indeed, and bearing that in mind it is perhaps not that surprising that Jesus’ mother wants to avoid embarrassment and a potential loss of face.
So why does Mary call on her Son to intervene?
This was his first recorded miracle so she did not know what the outcome would be but here we see her portraying perfect belief that her Son would be able to help in some special way.
At first Jesus was not too pleased, mother interfering again, and failing to recognize that Jesus was not yet ready to begin to display his power in such a public setting, hence the response that it was not yet his time!
However his mother was undeterred, do whatever he tells you!
What a key expression that is, obey and great things will be the result.
So like any Son Jesus responds as asked, yet through the instructions given to the stewards Jesus in turning water into wine reveals how by engaging in his ministry and being reborn by baptismal water the way is opened up for all who follow him into the feast of the kingdom of God.
With the words of the chief steward of the wedding “best wine kept until now,” reflecting beautifully the reality that at the opening scenario of the ministry of Jesus, the wine of the new dispensation, a new covenant with God had appeared, which would lead his people toward him in a way far superior to any revelation made previously by God to his chosen people.
That wine has been poured out for us to taste through the offering of the blood of Christ and as we now go forward to receive the blessing of his sacramental gift, let us recall the mysteries of the wedding feast at Cana and rejoice with all of God’s guests in being so freely invited to share in the heavenly banquet of God’s love.
Hymn: O thou, who at thy Eucharist didst pray.
Prayers for others
This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.
We come boldly to the throne of grace, Praying to the almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, as we pray today for your Church, we pray that we guided by your Holy Spirit may find the strength and confidence we need to continue to serve you and others in your name. We pray at this time of continued turmoil for clearer guidance on how best to worship and how best to care for one another alongside those in the communities which surround us. As we pray together recognising our Lord’s first miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana, we pray today for all those couples who have had to postpone their weddings hoping at some point for a relaxation of current restrictions. We pray for those still hoping to be married in the Spring and the Summer of this new year, that we may be able to rejoice with them surrounded by their families and friends. We pray as we engage with yet another period of isolation from our own family and friends that you may bless us and keep us in good spirits. We pray for all who are struggling with their mental health, all whose lives have been torn apart, and especially for all who find themselves lost, lonely and afraid. May the power of your love wash over them and bring them a little hope and comfort in these difficult and demanding days. Lord Jesus, fulfilment of the promises of old, give hope to all who suffer at this time, especially those in hospital, or receiving care in their own homes. We pray for the NHS and all caring professionals, all who are anxious, distressed, frustrated and depressed due to our present life restrictions, and for all whose health, wellbeing, livelihood and financial security are so adversely affected at this time. May all who are currently struggling, persevere in the hope that things may soon change and their present difficulties be resolved. Finally Holy Father, we hold before you all who mourn the loss of loved ones, for all those who now face this New Year alone, for those mourning loved ones lost in years gone by and for all who mourn the loss of those who have in so many different ways inspired them in their own lives. May the memories which they treasure be ever in their hearts bringing them glimpses of joy in their times of sadness. Lord Jesus Christ, in you the Father makes us and 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. Amen.
And so we pray
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 for ever. Amen.
Hymn: Forth in the peace of Christ we go.
A Song of Solomon
Many waters cannot quench love; neither can the floods drown it Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For love is strong as death passion fierce as the grave; Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. If all the wealth of our house were offered for love, It would be utterly scorned. Many waters cannot quench love; neither can the floods drown it.
May God the Son, Who turned water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, Transform your lives and make glad your hearts. And the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always. Amen.