The Gospel - John 2:1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Prayer: Lord, you have promised that when two or three gather in your name you will be present with them. We depend on that promise today and pray that you will move among us. Lord, we pray that have you inspired Mike's preparation, that you will enliven his presentation and that you will empower our application. Amen
The Message: We are in the Gospel of John for this morning. It is a fascinating story that is very difficult to understand. A lot of books and commentaries have been written on what is actually happening here. I am going to come back to that particular story. But first I want to do a sort of end-of-year/before Sabbatical summary.
The last few weeks have been interesting, haven't they? It seems to have been a continuation of the situation that we have lived through for the last couple of years. It seems that we continue to suffer, as Shakespeare put it: "The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."
Once again we have been called upon to be adaptive and creative in response to unexpected changes. Once again we have shown we are up to the task of meeting the need and working together to overcome the obstacles placed before us.
And I have to say that in midst of all of that miraculous things have continued to happen around and among us.
In the coming weeks, we will again have the opportunity to show resilience and determination.
As I leave on Sabbatical things are not as "in place" as I would like them to be. I am reminded that perhaps things are not as "in place" as I would like them to be here at Christ Church either. The challenging part is I don't know what those things are right now. What those things are will be revealed as the days and weeks pass.
For example, if you had asked me two weeks ago, or a month ago, if I thought I had done all I could to be prepared to fly to Australia tomorrow I would have assured emphatically that I had.
Then two weeks ago my life got turned on its head. A week ago it did a backflip and a double somersault. Sunday night before I went to bed, I felt like I had somehow ended up on the Millennium Force or the Corkscrew or the Power Tower at Cedar Point.
Nothing was working out as I had so carefully planned for it too. Somehow I contracted Covid and if that wasn't bad enough the airline graciously canceled my flights. I felt like I had whiplash.
Now, some of my closest friends including the one that I live with, have suggested that I might be a bit of an Eeyore. You know the kind of person who has the ability to see the dark cloud in every silver lining. Or maybe the kind of person who will notice the rain before they see the rainbow.
Given that it may be true that I can have a kind of gloomy outlook sometimes you may want to just put aside this next piece of my message this morning.
I think it might be wise to plan that everything is not going to work out just as we hope or plan that it will while I am away. Perhaps if we can plan some grace into the situation it might mean that there will be a lightness about how things go forward.
After worship today we will be holding the Annual Meeting. It is early this year. Because somebody planned a Sabbatical without really thinking about how that would affect everyone else's lives. That Fr Mike guy who can depend on him!
We have set up a system for conducting the meeting and voting. We are trusting we can explain it to everyone and that we can trust the results of the process. We will need to be patient and gracious with one another.
But as I said at the beginning of this message we know how to be adaptive and creative in response to unexpected change and challenges. And we have seen the miraculous happen among and around us.
In our Gospel text this morning we see Jesus applying this kind of flexibility. Despite his protests to his mother that "his time has not come" he goes ahead and provides for the wedding celebration.
He not only provides but he provides abundantly. This is seen as the first of his miraculous signs and traditionally seen as a blessing of marriage.
Not surprisingly this incident reveals his glory and his disciples believe in him. His actions bear fruit in the lives of those around him. The provision for the wedding is miraculous - better than the steward or the groom expected.
I believe that we can see this kind of process in our other readings for this morning. We don't have the time to go into all they contain.
I would like to briefly pick up on one aspect of all of what is happening. I hope we can gain some insight and encouragement for our own lives.
To do that we are going to look at part of The Collect for this morning: "Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory."
Have you ever thought of yourself that way? Now, I had to look it up to be sure that I had it right, but illumined means: "someone who is spiritually or intellectually enlightened." I don't think most of us have a problem with thinking about Jesus that way. But when it comes to seeing or believing that about ourselves we hesitate.
The Bishop said last week that he believes that we are all we need to be right now and we are all that God needs in our world right now.
I believe he was speaking about and trusting that we understand that in our Baptism we were gifted with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit living within us and working in us is the way that we are recreated.
The Holy Spirit flows in and through our lives so that we are illumined by the Word and Sacraments, and that is how we shine with the radiance of Christ's glory.
As I said earlier I think it might be wise to plan that everything is not going to work out just as we hope or plan that it will while I am away. Perhaps if we can plan some grace into the situation it might mean that there will be a lightness about how things go forward.
We know how to be adaptive and creative in response to unexpected changes and challenges. And we have seen the miraculous happen among and around us.
Jesus not only provides but he provides abundantly. Not surprisingly the story of the Wedding at Cana reveals Jesus' glory, his disciples believe in him and his actions bear fruit in the lives of those around him. The provision for the wedding is miraculous - better than the steward or the groom expected.
Can we trust in the Holy Spirit at work within and through us to bring about similar results in our lives, and in the lives of others?
I trust that when I return you will have many tales to tell of how the Lord was present with you. There will be challenges, things will not run smoothly, but the Lord will continue to be among us.
One final thought. The Book of Corinthians gives some good insights today on how to deal with one another. I encourage you to study and apply the lessons Paul is teaching there.
My prayer for us all is summarized in this traditional Irish Blessing:
"May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand."