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Water into wine

This snowy morning  at Little Paxton I preached a reworked sermon on the first of Jesus’ ” signs” or miracles  recorded by St John.

I began with a barage of ” horse burger ” jokes, not least as one of our congregation works for Tesco. Not sure I made the link very well between the jokes and the  signs of God’s glory, but it is there somewhere!

Wedding at Cana John 2 v 1-11

 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.”

His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.

The headwaiter called the groom 10 and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” 11 This was the first miraculous sign that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Sermon for January 20th 2013.

Amongst the more serious news this week came the shocking revelation that some Tesco burgers were found to be  29% contaminated with horse meat. I should hastily add that other super markets were found to have stcoked similar products.

Very soon after the story landed on our TV screens and radios, Tesco was embroiled in another row as someone from the Tesco care team had tweeted:

‘It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you all at 8am for more Tesco tweets”

Apparantly the tweet has been scheduled to be sent before the horsegate  scandal ( as it came to be known)  erupted  and Tesco had to apologise quickly  to the public for the tweet as well as the burger revelations.

The burger  story set off a flurry of jokes on the subject. Here are just a few of them.

Making money is the mane thing for Tesco ; Tesco have made foals of us

Someone quipped that Tesco replied to a customer who had asked whether they stocked ‘Red Rum’ by saying they would ‘look into the issue and get back to him soon’

‘I got some Tesco burgers out of the freezer earlier aaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnndddddddddd they’re off!,’ .

‘I hear that they are putting uniQuorn in the veggie burgers too

John Prescott,  tweeted: ‘I see the Tesco horse burger is the mane news item on Twitter.’

Can’t believe that woman was sent to hospital after eating a horse meat burger…… Her condition is said to be stable.’

‘Is eating horsemeat really that bad? Let’s put it to the vote. All those in favour say ‘aye’, all those against say ‘neigh”

Most of us I expect all like to believe that what is on the packet really describes what we are eating. I wonder how many of us really take time though to read the labelling and make decisions about whether to buy a product or not based on what we read.

There are many other instances in life where we look for direction and guidance. When we had the floods, how many of us tried to make out whether the Road Closed Flooding” sign really meant what it said in Mill Lane.

Sign posts are all around us in our daily lives. Usually they tell us something important, something we need to take note of.

In the NT reading today from John’s gospel, we read about Jesus performing a miracle – his first miracle as recorded in John – a miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana.  At the end of the account we read:

“ This deed at Canaan in Galilee is the first of the signs by which Jesus revealed his Glory and led the disciples to believe in him”. There were to be 7 in all recorded in John’s gospel and  the Acts of the Apostles refers to Jesus’ mighty works, wonders and signs” .

Jesus reveals His glory – God’s glory – not in a dazzling great light which cannot be looked at directly but in the simple act of caring- ensuring there is enough wine available for a wedding breakfast.

There is a separate sermon to be preached on the concept of God’s glory – Hebrew word is Kabod – but for now let’s rest with the idea of glory as expressing the great power and presence of God, something which in OT writings often is just too awesome for those who encounter it like Moses.

. Here was a breakthrough – ordinary people could directly  and safely experience God’s power and grace  and healing  love –  in Jesus and the signs he worked.

The almost unknowable God of the Old Testament was now being directly met in the person of Jesus.  For some at first it was hard to believe what they were seeing. Wasn’t this an ordinary man from an ordinary family in Nazareth? How could he be other than a mere carpenter’s son who had come along to a friends wedding with his mother? But all was not as it first seemed from the outside. Though 100% human, in Jesus God was 100% present too.

At Cana he takes charge of what could have been a very embarrassing situation for the steward of the feast. He starts with what they have – water. With the minimum of fuss  he carries out the miracle. 6 jars are filled with water and he turns the water into wine. He demonstrates his power to transform and change. We read that his disciples believed;  this miracle enabled them to see that Jesus was acting in the power of God to change lives and situations.

I wonder: where can we look today for signs of God’s glory? Of God changing lives?  Of God transforming situations?

How can we talk with any integrity about God’s glory and his love in a word full of injustice, where natural disasters claim thousands of lives. Where is God’s  glory when very sad things happen to very good people? Where is God’s glory and his light to be seen where- to use traditional language of theology  – sin seems to block its shining?

 This is where we draw on our deepest faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

I believe that God is intimately involved in the activity of humankind in this world – in the life of every individual  who has been and who is on earth. That’s quite a claim for there are over  7 Billion people in the world right now and the population increases daily at a fast rate.

The Good News is that God overcame human darkness and sin when Jesus broke into human darkness on the first Easter Day – bringing the ever present possibility of healing, new life out of every situation of darkness. I believe the promise of his glory is always there in every seemingly hopeless situation.

Through the eyes of faith, we can see God’s glory not necessarily in spectacular healings or in great crowds in evangelistic missions – but most importantly in every day stories of kindness, laughter, healing and courage and perseverance and in those who fight for justice where deep injustices have committed.

In the Gospel reading , God revealed his glory – his life changing presence – at a seemingly ordinary event like a wedding.  And it is in our homes, in our communities in the places where we work and worship that we may look for the signs of his glory. Reading the tweets of our local hospital chaplain Scott often reminds me how through the eyes of faith God’s  transforming presence quietly soothes the deepest of pains

In the Gospel reading , God revealed his glory – his life changing presence – at a seemingly ordinary event like a wedding.  And it is in our homes, in our communities in the places where we work, in our local schools and hospitals  that we may look for the signs of his glory.

I wonder what it would be like if Jesus walked through the door of this church now?

We believe his spirit is with us of course. The Lord is here: His spirit is with us we exclaim in our service of Holy Communion.

But if we actually saw the Jesus who walked this earth now, walking through that door, what would he say to you and me?

What would he want to say about this church building and how we should be using it in the future? It’s an ongoing conversation we must have as we give thanks for all we have achieved together and look as well to the coming years. Hands would go up I’m sure for better heating!

Above all hands up for continuing to offer a warm welcome to everyone who comes through the doors of our church and enjoys the many events we have planned for 2013.

May we be open to the transforming power of his love in our lives as he moves us on to a deeper understanding of what he’s about and what he wants us to be about in his name.

“ This deed at Canaan in Galilee is the first of the signs by which Jesus revealed his Glory and led the disciples to believe in him”.

May we look with the eyes of faith and a heart of love for those daily signs of God’s presence within us and around us. By our kindness may we be a transforming presence in the situations we find ourselves in day by day.

 

21st april sunburst and showers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 20, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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