Friday, 15 January 2010

Sermon notes 17-1-10

With thanks to a blogging friend who's reflections on Haiti helped this make sense as God's word to us today:

Wedding at Cana (John 2: 1-11)
The story of the wedding at Cana is described by John as the first ‘sign’ performed by Jesus: this ‘revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him’. Before Nicodemus, before the woman at the well, before any healings – Jesus does this.

There are many things we can take from this story.
It’s interesting to see Jesus in a very ordinary context, at a wedding, celebrating with his friends and his family. Sometimes people chose this reading to be read at a wedding – Perhaps because it’s nice to think Jesus celebrated as we do, and perhaps because it helps remind people that Jesus is present at their wedding, too.

Some people are interested to read a story about Jesus enjoying wine, having a good time and encouraging others to celebrate by making sure the wine does not run out. In a world where sometimes Jesus can be painted as a bit of a killjoy it’s good to remember that in his time he was criticized for being a wine-bibber, a bit of a party man.

And some people concentrate on the six stone jars, there for ritual washing, which would have held 20 or 30 gallons each – that is a lot of wine! And there may be something in this story about Jesus’ sign of the coming of the kingdom, which comes with amazingly abundant grace poured out, where previously there has been careful attempts to be clean and deserve favour.

I’ve preached on the wedding at Cana quite a number of times over the years, but I think I’ve always tended to concentrate on what the readings tells us about Jesus, rather than thin about what we, as followers of Jesus, might do.

I came across this quote from Richard Cizik, of the National Association of Evangelicals in the States: When I die, God isn't going to ask me "Did I create the Earth in six days or five days?" but "What did you do with what I gave you?"

So what does this story have to tell us about what we should do with what God has given us?
To answer this I’d like us to spend some time thinking about a character in the story other than Jesus.
Jesus is enjoying the party, he’s surrounded by his friends, and it’s Mary, his mother, who comes to him and says ‘they have no wine’. We can’t know of course how the story might have panned out if Mary had not been there. Maybe Jesus would have noticed his glass was empty and eventually have chosen to do something about it himself.

But in the story as we have it Mary has an important part to play, in bringing the situation and its potential solution to Jesus.
Notice that she doesn’t tell Jesus how to address the problem, but she is confident enough in his ability to help to say to the servants there ‘do whatever he tells you to do’. And of course Jesus is able (and eventually willing) to provide more than enough to satisfy the needs his mother has told him about.
What does the story tell us to do?
I don’t think I’m being fanciful as seeing this as a story which can teach us important things about our role as those who bring prayers to God, especially prayers of intercession for others.

We don’t need to use fancy words, we can just state the facts.
We don’t need to suggest a solution, simply trust that God knows what God is about.
and we don’t need to doubt that at the right time and in the right way, the super-abundant grace of God will sort out the situation.

Of course we are almost overwhelmed by the terrible news from Haiti of the severe earthquake.

We might feel we don’t even know how to begin to pray… but perhaps Mary can teach us.

‘They have no homes, or food or water’
and we know that God hears this cry and knows this need, and is ready to act, to pour out healing and grace.
We may even be the water that is changed to wine – we may be the answer to someone’s prayer. We may be challenged to give in order to help.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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