Online Sunday Service – 16th August 2020

 

16th August 2020

Online Service

The Wedding at Cana

How has your week been? Most of us are pretty fed up with the ups and downs which we are subjected to – much of which is caused by the insensitive and thoughtless action of those who really don’t understand what it is all about.

There are many who don’t understand much of the Bible – and as someone once said to me “the bible doesn’t help itself does it!? With all the miracles, parables, symbolism and so on!”

They probably had a point.

Understanding the issues is the key to making sense of its meaning and significance for us.

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at some of the better know Parables, like ‘The Feeding of the 5,000’, ‘The Good Samaritan’ and so on. All well enough know to us – but I hope that you now see that they have so much more to tell us than is ‘on the surface’ and should you come across a Parable (there are plenty of them) you will think to yourself – ‘I see what it is saying – aye, but what does it mean?”

Starting today I am going to begin a short series on the Miracles of Jesus.

The very first Miracle that He performed was at a friends Wedding in the nearby village of Cana – where He changed the Water into Wine.

Like all the feats of Jesus – nothing is as it might seem – and so it is with this first Miracle.

Over the next few weeks we will be ‘unpacking’ a number of miracles performed by Jesus to find out what is at the heart of them ~

But before that – let us pray together ~

PRAYER  

Loving Father of all that is good –

we come to celebrate your greatness – to singing your praises, thanking you for your many gifts, rejoicing in your love for us, and offering you our grateful worship.

Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We come knowing you have made this day and every day, this place and every place, ourselves and all people.

We come, conscious that once more

you have blessed us beyond our deserving —that we have tasted your goodness and received richly from your loving hand.

 

Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayer.

But we come too, conscious that we have not always appreciated your love, that we have been slow to thank you, yet quick to ask for more, dissatisfied with what we have, yet wasteful of the resources you have given us.

Forgive us, we pray

Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious and loving God,

assure us once more of your mercy,

renew us through the living presence of your Holy Spirit, and so restore our relationship with you

that we may follow you each day not just in words but through all that we are.

Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayer.

And hear us now as we pray together, the prayer which brings us together as one family – the Lord’s prayer –

Our Father.. Who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….. Give us this day our daily bread.. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

Today we have 2 readings –

The first is from the Old Testament (O.T,) –

PSALM 104 : 10 – 15.

Where we hear King David praising God for his unfailing goodness – and acknowledging the importance of the refreshing and life giving powers of water – and the rejuvenating power of wine….

And our second reading is taken from John’s Gospel –

John 2 : 1 – 11.

And we hear of the very first miracle that Jesus performed – changing the water into wine at a friends wedding.

This is right at the beginning of his 3 year ministry – and Jesus seems reluctant to ‘come out” – but his mother encourages him – and the rest – as they say – is history. But is that all there is to this that well known story ?

Well…we’ll see in a moment…

Let’s read those passages now –

PSALM 104:10–15 from the New Revised Standard Version (NSRV)

 “ 10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;

they flow between the hills,
11 giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 By the streams[a] the birds of the air have their habitation;
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14 You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,[b]
to bring forth food from the earth,
15     and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart.”

And ~

John 2:1-11   from The Passion Version (TPV)

The Wedding at Cana

“Now on the third day there was a wedding feast in the Galilean village of Cana, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2–3 Jesus and his disciples were all invited to the Wedding banquet, but with so many guests in attendance, they ran out of wine.

And when Mary realized it, she came to him and asked, “They have no wine, can’t you do something about it?

Jesus replied, “My dear one, don’t you understand that if I do this, it won’t change anything for you, but it will change everything for me! My hour of unveiling my power has not yet come.”

Mary then went to the servers and told them, “Whatever Jesus tells you, make sure that you do it!”

Now there were six stone water pots standing nearby. They were meant to be used for the Jewish washing rituals. Each one held about 20 gallons or more. Jesus came to the servers and told them, “Fill the pots with water, right up to the very brim.” Then he said, “Now fill your pitchers and take them to the master of ceremonies.”

And when they poured out their pitcher for the master of ceremonies to sample, the water became wine! When he tasted the water that became wine, the master of ceremonies was impressed. (Although he didn’t know where the wine had come from, but the servers knew.) 10 He called the bridegroom over and said to him, “Every host serves his best wine first until everyone has had a cup or two, then he serves the wine of poor quality. But you, my friend, you’ve reserved the most exquisite wine until now!” 11 This miracle in Cana was the first of the many extraordinary miracles Jesus performed in Galilee. This was a sign revealing his glory, and his disciples believed in him”

Amen.

This is the word of the Lord – thanks be to God

SERMON

Our N.T. Reading for today is, of course, from Johns’ Gospel – and it’s only in his Gospel that we find this miracle of the Water & the Wine.

Johns’ Gospel is quite different from the others.

This is probably because his Gospel was written some time after the books of Matthew, Mark or Luke – and there was more time to reflect on what all the miracles, healings and wonders of Jesus – actually meant.

John calls the Miracles of Jesus – “Signs” – signs of God’s power.   And ‘signs’ – as we know – usually point in a certain direction – leading us somewhere.

And that’s what John’s gospel does – through a series of – “signs” it leads us to see the whole glory of God – through His son – Jesus.

No Shepherds – no Angels – no Wise Men – just the bare facts as to the reason Jesus came to earth – and who He really was.

And so as we read through John’s gospel – we find our selves on a journey.

It leads us along the road – via a series of ‘signs’…. Aye but where to !?

Well – his gospel is – if you like – a treasure hunt – where his ‘signs’ are like clues – which we have to discover and then investigate to find out their true meaning.

Firstly, they show us the miraculous power of God – and secondly, they were to show ‘those with the eyes to see’, that Jesus really is God’s son – and has all God’s power and authority – here on earth.

And there were many more ‘signs’– and we read that at the end of John 20: where it says ~ now Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and that by believing – you may have life in His name.”

The Transformation of water into wine at the wedding at Cana, was the first of these ‘miraculous signs.”

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At this point – Jesus hadn’t called His first disciples yet – and was just setting out on His important “Mission Earth.”

There was much to do – many things to accomplish – and yet we see Him taking some time out to enjoy a local wedding.

Even at this early stage – Jesus knew the importance of being involved in the everyday lives of everyday people – people like you and I.

Many religious leaders of the day – and throughout history – set themselves up as being aloof and remote from the everyday people.

Over emphasizing their own importance, knowingly using scholastic jargon which flew right over the heads of ordinary people.

But Jesus knew that His mission – as significant and world changing as it was – went hand in hand with the lives of ordinary people.

People like you and I.

Unlike the religious leaders of the day – Jesus was a ‘people person’ – a ‘man of the people’ – who loved to get to know people – and see how he could help them change their lives for the better.

And here He was – among the people – mingling – chatting – socializing – sharing.     Not only changing water into wine – but transforming the hearts and minds of those who saw what he could do.

“If he can do such an amazing thing” they may well have thought – “then he surely is who he says he is – the very son of God.”

It shows us – the importance of sharing our faith with others – out-with the church setting – whether at work – in the home – in school – in Tesco’s – at a wedding – or wherever we may find ourselves.

It’s not about being a ‘bible basher’ or a ‘holy willie’ – but being a good Christian person who cares about the lives of others – who leaves a good impression – who plays your own humble part in the transformation of the lives of those you meet.

95% of Jesus’ ministry – was spent walking, talking, sharing – with everyday people – people we see all around us in society.

With people, with all their issues and worries – in their times of sadness and their times of joy – people like you and I.

 

It was people such as these – at times such as these – that Jesus becomes involved – and his involvement brought about a transformation in their lives.

His kindness – His faith – gave an example – a hope – to those who met Him – and a faith to countless millions ever since.

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Believe it or not – but your life has an effect on those around you. …oh yes it does!…

The way you live your life – how you act – re-act and inter-act with others – all show who you really are. And if you have a faith – it shows that too.

Jesus “lived” the gospels – in His everyday life – and when people saw His faith – His character – they too were changed.

This is what Jesus did – and it’s what we – if we are to call ourselves ‘Christian’ – are also called to do. To ‘go out and make disciples of others.’

 

Do you remember that story of St Francis of Assisi – when he was asked by a student how he changed the lives of so many of the people he met – he replied – “I preach the gospel at all times – and sometimes I even use words!”

‘Oh dear!’ – you might be thinking – “this sounds like I’m going to have to do something!’

Maybe that’s what Jesus thought when Mary asked Him to help at the Wedding in Cana – He was certainly reluctant!

And we see that in verse 4 of our N.T. reading – when Jesus said – “Why do you involve me!? – my time hasn’t come yet !”

In other words – ‘don’t ask me ! – I’m not ready to do that kind of stuff!’

But with a little encouragement – He stepped up and showed those present – the amazing, transforming power of God.

And if we’re totally honest – many of us are reluctant too – but with a little encouragement – we can show others the transformation in our own lives – and so encourage them to consider doing the same.

You see – if we think that this miracle is all about the wine – we would be seriously missing the point.

It’s about the act of transformation.

 It’s about the ability to transform things from what they were – into what they can be.

It’s about taking everyday, ordinary, mundane things – like water – like our lives – and through the power of Christ – changing them into something far sweeter – far more enriching – something so unbelievably different.

That is what’s accessible and absolutely available to people like you and I – and to others – if they only but knew it!

But how can they know what joy awaits them – unless someone tells them?

How can they know about the love that God has for them?

How can they know that He has a plan for their lives which involves a man from heaven – walking beside them through their lives – and stepping into eternity with them?

How can we know – unless we come and hear it for ourselves ?

How can others know – unless someone tells them?

And that’s where you and I come in.

That’s the message – that’s the challenge.

However, that’s not all this miracle story has to teach us.

As the Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket used to say – “There’s more!”

And it’s at verse 10 – where the ‘Master of the banquet’ –the one overseeing the arrangements tastes the wine and says “everyone usually brings out the best wine first – and then the cheaper wine – when nobody will notice ! – but (and here’s the important line) “but you – have saved the best till last!”

And that’s the point – the implication that this often overlooked passage has for your life – and mine – and for those around us.

And it’s this ~

That for as richly blessed as we are in our lives – the best is yet to come !!

God’s love for each and every one of those who responds to His love – will know an over abundance of His generous blessings.

And at the last – that day of Sorrow will become the day of great Joy as He receives you into His kingdom for all eternity –to live in peace and tranquillity in that most wonderful of places – with those who have gone before us.

That’s His promise.

For each one of us – the best really is yet to come !!

And it will be better, more amazing and mind blowing than anything we have ever experienced before or could ever imagine.

It’s a wonderful, breathtaking transformation that we all have to look forward to.

And what a wonderfully comforting thought for us to take away with us today and think about – a thought to hang on to and to pray for – for yourself and for those you love.

Pray that your family, friends and those you know and love will know that wonderful promise too.

That’s is what I pray for you – as you read these words – and I pray for you in the name of God’s only Son – our only hope – Jesus Christ..

Amen.

And may God bless this preaching of His Holy Word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.

Let us pray ~

Loving Father, we give you thanks for all the blessings you bestow upon us – families, friends, a home to live in, food on the table and so much more.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for the world – your creation.

You gave us responsibility for all that you have made. You entrusted every living creature into our care. But we have betrayed that trust and neglected our responsibility ~ We have allowed your good earth to become polluted by our greed, damaged by our selfishness and sucked dry by our materialism. Father, by your Holy Spirit, give us a renewed urgency to fulfill the task you laid upon us.

 The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for governments around the world; for those whose decisions will affect the whole of your creation;

for those who ignore the implications for future generations of the decisions they are making today; for the leaders of nations who are genuinely seeking to behave responsibly, to act justly and to be faithful stewards of your creation.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

 Father, we pray for our school children who received lower grades than they expected. Particularly those who see their hopes for the future being dashed. Remind them Father that you have a plan for the life of each one of us – and although our plans may not pan out as we would wish, your plans are guaranteed – and your plans for us are for our good and successful future.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for ordinary men and women and children around the world whose lives have become unbearable. Whether through war or famine – abuse or neglect – we ask for your blessings upon them. We pray too for the ordinary men, women and children that we know who find life difficult – whether through the loss of someone close – through illness or whatever circumstance – and we ask that you bless them too loving Father –

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

At this weekend – as we celebrate VJ day – we give our heartfelt thanks to those service men and women who

gave their lives in that awful area of war – to make this world, your world, a better place.

 

We also keep in our prayers – those who are still placing their own lives on the line so that our world is a safer and better place to live in.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for ourselves.

We are your creation.

We acknowledge that we are wonderfully made.

We are capable of amazing acts of kindness, love and understanding. Help us to use those for the good of others.

Yet we also know our need of your healing, forgiving, transforming grace.

We ask you to touch our hearts with your love,

our lives with your grace and our lips with your truth.

Father, enable us so to live that others may live in you.

Lord, empower us so to speak that others may glorify you.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for our families – those who are close to us , we pray that you will bless them and watch over them – whether they are close by or far away from us, keep them close to you, keep them safe and secure.

ather, draw close to us – as we sit for a few silent moments – praying for those we love and care for – and for those we ought to love.

Be with us in the peace of our silence……take a few moments to think of those you know need a prayer at this time………..

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

We know that the Lord hears our prayers both for others and for ourselves – because we pray in faith and in the name of our dear Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

 ‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

A friend once told me this story – and I’ll tell it to you just as she told it to me ~

“We had been away for a few days over the winter – and came home to find a pipe had burst in the attic – and there was water everywhere.

So I called a plumber and after a quick look – he set to work repairing the damage.

But the day didn’t go well for him.

A flat tyre made him lose an hour of work and his electric drill broke down. Then his old transit van refused to start.

As I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked towards the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

Upon opening the door he had undergone an amazing transformation.

His tanned face was one big smile and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to my car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do at the little tree.

 

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles in my daily life, but one thing’s for sure, those troubles don’t belong in the house with my loved ones.

So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again.

Funny thing is though,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

What a wonderful story ! Perhaps we should all have a ‘trouble tree’ inside our homes – but you know – a prayer can do the same thing ! – hand your troubles to Jesus in your daily prayers – not everything will go away but He will lighten your load – refresh and refill you.

And that’s a promise !!

BLESSING

And now – go in Love, Joy and Peace –

Go with God’s love in your heart – and His hand on your shoulder, watching and guiding you in all you say and do..

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families,

your friends, and those you love – and ought to love – this day – and every day.

Amen.

 Take care and May God Bless you

And those who you love.

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Keep safe

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Be sure and look out for the Midweek Meditation which

is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

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Some of you will know that I am currently serving as Locum

in Kilmacolm Old Kirk.

It is a beautiful church with a small, renovated 13th century Chapel, called The Murray Chapel.

If you are interested you should go to Kilmacolmoldkirk.co.uk

and take the ‘Virtual Tour’ – I am sure you will find it most interesting.

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