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Sunday Service During Epiphany

         

The Greeting

Welcome in the name of Jesus
who was born to be our Saviour,
Christ the Lord, we welcome you.
Grace, mercy and peace be with you.

Prayers of Penitence

The grace of God has dawned upon the world through our saviour Jesus Christ,
who sacrificed himself for us to purify a people as his own.

Let us confess our sins.
God of mercy,
we acknowledge that we are all sinners.
We turn from the wrong that we have thought and said and done,
and are mindful of all that we have failed to do.
For the sake of Jesus, who died for us,
forgive us for all that is past,
and help us to live each day
in the light of Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Absolution

May almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners,
bring us his pardon and peace, now and for ever.
Amen.

Praise

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world:
a light no darkness can quench.
See what love the Father has given us,
that we should be called the children of God.
You are my sons and daughters,
this day I have begotten you.
See what love the Father has given us.
As many as received him,
to them he gave power to become the children of God.
See what love the Father has given us.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
See what love the Father has given us,
that we should be called the children of God.

Readings

New Testament: Revelation 19:6-10
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

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.

Other Readings for Epiphany 3: Psalm 128 & Genesis 14:17-20

The Collect

Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles
the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your mighty power;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Homily

It was raining. It was pouring - water swirling as it ran in the gutters. This was Cana; Cana in Galilee. We were there three years ago this month, on a visit to the Holy Land, with Cana on the itinerary.
Here, Jesus’ mother was a guest at a wedding. So were Jesus and his disciples. That’s the familiar account we’ve heard today.

At the time we were there, our fortieth wedding anniversary was approaching and so what better place for us to remind ourselves of those wedding vows made in love and before God all those years ago. There are still weddings celebrated at Cana in Galilee, and we weren’t the only ones renewing our wedding vows. In fact, chapels have been set aside to meet all the requests. The service, conducted by our tour leader and with all of our party there, was emotional for us, with a lovely message. It was over too soon but we’ll always remember it. After that, it was out and across the courtyard to visit the church built on the traditional site of the celebration. As we went down the steps, there were – perhaps we should have expected them – huge stone jars, reminders of just how much water Jesus had turned into wine as John’s Gospel tells us.

Standing there, it was easy to imagine the scene some two thousand years ago – the joyful bride and groom, the happy occasion, the proud family, the excited guests, the hubbub of voices, the colourful clothes, the food all ready – prepared for the feast. And the wine!

Taking a step back, we are still in the season of Epiphany as the Church remembers how Jesus’ divinity was ‘revealed to the nations’. Think of the Magi, of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, of how he calls his disciples... and now here we are at the wedding feast that takes place, significantly, ‘on the third day’.

All of us, I’m sure have been guests at a wedding, and there are many familiar elements in this story. Perhaps it evokes memories of how a potential disaster was averted by quick-thinking action on the part of a guest. Perhaps, caught up in the celebrations, we may not even have noticed that anything was amiss. Maybe that was the case here. But Mary, Jesus’ mother, is alert and notices that the wine has run out.

Overhearing the conversation, we hear her speak. ‘They have no wine’, she says to Jesus. His reply sounds an odd one. He asks, ‘What has this to do with me?’ and he adds, ‘My hour has not yet come’. What does he mean?

Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus’ ‘hour’ is when he follows the path that leads to his suffering and death. Is it too soon to reveal his glory – the invisible qualities of God made visible - at this point?
‘Do whatever he tells you’, Mary says to the servants. What happens is a miracle – a sign as John’s Gospel has it – as Jesus turns ordinary H2O into ‘vintage’ wine.

In the Old Testament, God speaks of his people as a vineyard. The prophet, Isaiah (5:7), says, ‘The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.’ All in the vineyard is not well.

When the wedding steward – the Master of Ceremonies - tastes the new wine before serving it to the guests, he goes to the bridegroom himself and says that most serve the good wine first and then later, when people are less likely to spot it, the inferior wine. Here the opposite has happened. The good wine has been saved until last.

The message seems clear. John points to Jesus himself as the ‘good wine’ that restores the vineyard – the Word of God made flesh as the early verses of his Gospel put it. Jesus is ‘the true light who has come into the world’, and ‘to all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God’.

In ‘manifesting his glory’ – revealing his divinity – by what he does here at Cana, Jesus responds to his mother’s remark, ‘They have no wine’ with more than they need. He super supplies, and this is good wine - the best - and it is so plentiful. This is a symbol of God’s grace and it, too, is so plentiful; it is prodigious. His love is more than we can ever want. His love embraces us as nothing else can. ‘From his fullness we have all received’, says John, ‘grace upon grace’. This is God’s gift to us. This is Jesus!

What a reason to celebrate! As we got back on the tour bus, there was a gift waiting for us. You’ll guess, I suspect. It was a bottle of wine from Cana! And, yes, it was good!
                                                                                             Rev Canon Chris Stone

 

Affirmation of Faith

Let us declare our faith in God.
I believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.
I believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.
I believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.
I believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray to Jesus our Saviour.
Christ, born in a stable,
give courage to all who are homeless.
Jesus, Saviour,
hear our prayer.

Christ, for whom the angels sang,
give the song of the kingdom to all who weep.
Jesus, Saviour,
hear our prayer.

Christ, worshipped by the shepherds,
give peace on earth to all who are oppressed.
Jesus, Saviour,
hear our prayer.

Christ, before whom the wise men knelt,
give humility and wisdom to all who govern.
Jesus, Saviour,
hear our prayer.

Christ, whose radiance filled a lowly manger,
give the glory of your resurrection to all who rest in you.
Jesus, Saviour,
hear our prayer.

Jesus, Saviour, child of Mary,
you know us and love us,
you share our lives
and hear our prayer.
Glory to you for ever.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Dismissal

May God the Father,
who led the wise men by the shining of a star
to find the Christ, the Light from Light,
lead us in our pilgrimage to find the Lord.
Amen.

May God who has brought us out of darkness
give us a place with the saints in light
in the kingdom of his Son.
Amen.

May the light of the glorious gospel of Christ
shine in our hearts and transform our lives,
to bring his light to others.
Amen.

We go into the world to walk in God’s light,
to rejoice in God’s love and to reflect God’s glory.
In the name of Christ.
Amen.

 


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