Approach to Worship
Creator God, abundant giver, at a wedding in Cana you turned the ordinary into the extraordinary. We come to you, ready for you to turn our ordinariness into something extraordinary; we come to you, O God of change and transformation, seeking a drop of the divine, a glimpse of your glory. Transform our day by changing our way of seeing, we pray.
God, who called all things into being from nothing, we adore you. Christ, who combined the human and divine in equal measure, we adore you. Holy Spirit, who enables the ordinary within us to become extraordinary, we adore you. Amen.
Hymn: To God be the glory, great things he has done (R&S 289)
Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5
Marriage is a practice that is as old as human civilisation. At its best, it is the kind of institution that gives people and communities joy amidst the ordinariness of life. Weddings bring people together to celebrate with singing, partying and an escape from daily life. In his vision of God’s community lifted up in marriage and relationship Isaiah says to a people healing after their time in exile that their community will be holy and blessed, as a marriage is holy and blessed.
In our Gospel reading, immediately after calling the disciples, we witness Jesus’ first miracle while he and his mother Mary are at a wedding celebration and the wine runs out. Jesus is encouraged by Mary to help the situation and instructs the servants to fill six jugs with water. Much to everyone’s astonishment, as the liquid is poured out of the jugs what comes out is the finest wine, and his new disciples believe in him.
Hymn: Songs of thankfulness and praise (R&S 191)
This Sunday is the second after the feast of the Epiphany, the season of the church year which takes us up to the beginning of Lent. Epiphany means revelation or showing and over these few weeks we see how, in various ways, Jesus is revealed to be the Messiah, the son of God. From the visit of the wise men, his presentation in the temple, his baptism by John in the River Jordan, his first miracle and his reading of the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth Jesus is shown to be no ordinary preacher as his identity is revealed to significant representatives or groups of people.
The story of the wedding at Cana happens before Jesus begins his ministry and is not recorded in any of the other Gospels. It is also significant that John does not refer to it as being a miracle. In fact John never refers to any of the things that Jesus does as miracles. The word that John uses is ‘sign’ and is applied to many more things than those that we would call miracles, for example the coming down of the Holy Spirit at Jesus’ baptism and the voice from heaven are ‘signs’. Their importance is that they are indicators of Jesus’ identity, signs that point to who he is. It isn’t the miracle itself that matters but what it signifies. Nevertheless, if John the Baptist’s word had not been enough when he pointed Jesus out, Jesus’ first disciples were now convinced, ‘he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.’ (John 2:11).
In Jesus’ time a wedding was an important community event and most of the village would probably have been there. But although we don’t know what relationship Mary had with the couple for her to notice that the wine had run out and to ask Jesus to do something about it they must have been quite close. Jesus’ reaction however is along the lines of ‘it’s got nothing to do with me’ but Mary doesn’t give up and tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says, giving him little option but to get involved. And when he does get involved it’s in a big way. The six water jars would have each held about 170 or more bottles of wine in modern measures, over 1000 bottles in total. That’s an incredibly generous provision and not just in quantity but in quality too as the man in charge of the feast declared, ‘it’s the best wine I’ve ever tasted’.
The whole story is a sign not just of Jesus’ identity but a reminder of God’s generous provision. God’s provision isn’t simply in material things however, in Jesus God provides for us completely. Through Jesus’ self-sacrifice and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit our lives are transformed spiritually too. The commentary in the Roots resources for this week urges us to ask questions about transformation, both in our own lives and in our communities.
· Where do we see God doing extraordinary things in our everyday ordinary lives?
· Where are the everyday miracles and how is God transforming us into something beautiful?
The wedding of Cana is a celebration, a party and Jesus loved a good party. Jesus (and his disciples) and his mother were invited. And Jesus turned a regular wedding celebration into something extraordinary. Do we look for the extraordinary in the ordinary? Do we want the extraordinary, the abundance that Jesus has to offer us, or are we happy trudging along with the ordinary? Where is Jesus doing the extraordinary in our lives and our communities? Do we look for miracles in the everyday? Do we celebrate the little things in life, or have we forgotten how to celebrate?
Hymn: Jesus the Lord said, I am the bread (R&S 199) or Bind us together Lord (MP 52)
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray. For the world and its people, for places of famine and epidemic, for war zones and disaster areas… Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For politicians and journalists, for all who work in the media, and those who have no one to speak for them… Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For the unemployed, for those who use local food banks and those who run them… Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For those who are ill, for the very old and very young and those who care for them… Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For the leaders of all our faith communities, for those who lead this church, and for those who worship and pray here… Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer and reveal your glory. Amen.
Hymn: God is love, his the care (R&S 274)
May Jesus Christ, changer of water into wine, taker of the ordinary in our lives, transform us for his glory, and make us extraordinary for his sake. Let us go out from here with God’s miraculous grace brimming up in us, taking with us that abundance of love and power, and sharing it with everyone we meet. Amen.
Prayers and some other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches. Used by permission.