New wine , new order

 

 

Wedding at Cana

John 2;1-11

 

Now as we know in the time of Jesus weddings were week-long festivals. banquets would be prepared for many guests and the week would be spent celebrating the new life of the married couple. Often the whole town was invited and everyone would come. To accommodate many people careful planning was needed and to run out of wine was more than embarrassing: it broke the strong written laws of hospitality. Running out of wine brought shame, it says we don’t care about you, it insults the guests by saying you’ve already drunk too much, it says we are too poor to buy more.

So what makes this wedding any different.

 

When you look at the text it is actually Mary who is the key, John mentions Mary first and follows on that Jesus and his disciples were also guests. Mary’s presence takes precedence. So is Mary Key to this to this event.

Mary is the one who notices that the wine is running out. women’s intuition she sees the muttering and shuffling among the servants. So she mentions it to Jesus only to receive the reply “dear mother that’s not our problem, my time has yet to come”

But as we know Mary it’s not put off by this and she orders the servants to do what ever Jesus tells them today.  I want to take you back to to the Christmas story trying to Mary as young girl in a conversation with the angel.  Mary is told.” He will be great and will be called a son of the most high. The Lord will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever: his kingdom will never end.

Mary questions as to how this will happen she is told,the holy spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the son of God.

Mary has known all along that Jesus was born to be special. And perhaps she knows that this was actually the time for Jesus to actually show the person he was born to be the son of the most high.

For Mary perhaps she may have expected it to be made clearer earlier who was especially after the episode and at this Jerusalem Temple when he was only 12, no doubt she had been waiting and wondering for this to happen for him to show his hand so to speak. To show the the messiah written about in Jewish texts was actually present as a guest at the wedding.

I think the key is Jesus’ baptism, we don’t know if Mary was there and witnessed the dove and the voice saying “this is my son, whom I love. With you I am well pleased”

The holy spirit came upon Mary and now it was on Jesus

The holy spirit had descended to Jesus and rested and stayed with him. This is the starting point of Jesus’s ministry after years of working as a carpenter. The prophesies had been fulfilled.  As we say all things come about in Gods time.

This was the time.

But did Mary expect a miracle, I don’t know, perhaps she was sure this was the time. Tradition says that Joseph was dead, so she properly was used to asking for her sons help in all situations. Something all mothers do!!! My son would defog say I do!!!!

Jesus does eventually show his hand, in a big way. He doesn’t just go and find a couple of full wineskins from somewhere. No!

He approaches the servants and instructs the servants to fill the six large ceremonial jars usually used for ritual washing to the brim with water. I should imagine that the servants were rather confused because the washing was long past. However, they did as Jesus said. Now as we know the ceremonial jars contains 20 to 30 gallons of water so the need for six would indicate a large gathering. So maybe an important family, the embarrassment of running out of wine would have been unthinkable.

The water becomes wine, not just a mediocre wine, it was the best. Which in itself bought astonishment because at a wedding the best was served first and as time went on the quality of the wine would diminish.

This miracle signalled change in order. It is often said of this passage that it Signals the beginning of a new era, which it does in more ways than one, because it signalled the start of Jesus’s ministry and the time when he would leave his home and Mary. He would no longer be there.

Mary had to let go of her son, Jesus. He was not on this earth solely for her, he was and is here for us all if we want him.

Many questions come from this passage,

Is there something you are holding close that you need to let go of?

Maybe God is asking you to do something, asking you to step out in faith that letting go will be ok.

New wine is a symbol for the coming of the kingdom, the new order, and in this new wine we are saved.

Verse 11 says

“What Jesus did here in Cana of galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory and his disciple believed”

We believe in the new wine, the new order and when we share in this wine shortly, we must remember Mary for whom this wedding signalled the what we know now as the beginning of the end

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Saints in Heaven

This morning I took an assembly at my local primary school, the subject was the festival of All Saints. I did a ppt talking about various saints. but it was the ensuing discussion on heaven and where it is.

I asked the question” where do you think have is”

the answers ” in space” “amongst the clouds” ” the here and now” no one came up with the answer I thought may appear and that was a sweet shop !!

But why not a sweet shop.

We have many people in our lives who are or have been special to us. Life one big sweet shop, catering for all types of taste. Sadly some taste bitter, a bit like some people in life but some are sweet and enjoyable and become favourites.  We welcome them with joy and each time we join with them we are happy and fullfilled.

the next question was

“Where do they sleep” so I asked ,”where do you think”

“In bed on a cloud”   what a wonderful thought.

I had this mental picture of all the saints in bed with name tags, just like the seven dwarfs. My mum and dad together, side by side.

A  joyous thought.

So what are you thoughts on heaven?

Answers on a postcard…………………..

Be still for the presence of the Lord

be still

I have loved Paul’s letter to the Ephesians over the past few weeks.

This letter although written for new Christians converts in Ephesus, is so relevant for us today. The reading today talks of using our time wisely, not wasting it. It advises that we  make sure we are spending it doing a God would have us do.

So busyness for busyness sake is out.

We mustn’t feel that we HAVE to be doing all the time, because in always DOING ,how are we to discern how God have us spend our time.

In church this morning we sand “Be still for the presence of the Lord”. The Lord wishes us to allow ourselves to be still, to rest in his presence, to hear him, be at one with him.

He gives us permission to” NOT BE BUSY” but WE have to give ourselves that permission.

Ephesians 5,15-20  (Message Bible)

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love”

charmouth footsteps

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love”.

Love is there any word that is more casually use in the English language Think of all the ways you can say you love someone will something I love my husband I love my children, I love to view out of my window and on the other occasion you meet a friend and you might say I love your shoes “where did you get them”.

I Have quoted many different contexts where the word love is used, so how many different types of love do you think there can be.

CS Lewis talks about love in his book ‘The Four Loves’

It is interesting the order he places the four in.

The first love he describes is affection. A mutual love between a parent and child, the first love we experience after birth, a need love and a giving love.

The next is friendship, a love freely chosen. They are not compelled into it by our own emotional and physical needs.   There is a saying which I am sure you are all familiar with,you can choose your friends but not your relatives. How many times did you fall out with friends when you started school.

The next is romance, a coming together, a love that maybe started with friendship , moved deeper to affection, a complete giving of oneself to another.

And finally Agape-God ,love freely given asking for nothing in return and regardless of the circumstance.

A love that is inclusive as we hear in our first reading. This love is not for certain people, this love is for all.

But what about the other words

As the father has loved me so I have loved you now abide in my love.

Does it mean that Christ might stop loving us if we do not abide in his love,we do not wish to stay in his love, but decide to move away from his love and closeness, maybe thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Think of the prodigal son he went off because he thought the grass is greener, the son deprived himself of his fathers love and only later after a time in self-imposed hardship did he return to his father. His father who had never ceased to love his son, Abiding in Christ means we do is he would wish we keep his commands Jesus is here if you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.

So what happens if we don’t do this then we disobey and remove ourselves from the flow of the holy spirit this love is irrevocably linked with obedience really Love God we will want to follow his ways which is why it is important to have this personal relationship and for that relationship to grow.

V 12 and Gives us the command, my command is this Love each other as I have loved you. That’s a high standard of love as I have loved you how does Jesus love you he loved you before you loved him. He loved us enough to give himself totally sacrificially for us.

We may think “how can I possibly love as Jesus loved’, he tells us we can only do it if we abide in his love. If we walk in partnership, if we remain and live in obedience with the one we love.

It only is in this kind of relationship and fellowship our prayers actually mean something. John 15’7 if you remain in me and my words remaining you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to him

Today is rogation Sunday, the word rogation come from the latin Rogare “to ask’ and in v 17 we read “what ever you ask the father in my name he will give you’

We are only going to find our God wants from us if we ask him it is through the spirit that is within us that God is able to speak to us. It is when we develop a relationship with our risen Lord that we can be changed. We have been chosen by Christ to bear his fruit, fruit that will last.

v16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Jesus telling to do one thing in this passage; just a connected with him, delivering fellowship with him to draw life and strength from him,obey him and depend on him. And abide in him.

We have a choice something we can do or not do

We can do it if we do as he says

If we abide in him

If we do as he commands and love one another

If we remember he choose us and not the other way round.

If we remember  he loves us whoever  and wherever we are.

Restored

011

 

 

Restored

What was it he said? Ah, yes I recall

“Knock down this temple in three days,

it will rise,

it will return”

And so it was,

It could not be broken

Stone rolled away

Cloth discarded

Tomb empty

“Why do you weep” said he

“My Lord has gone” Said she

She could not see, She could not hear

Through her tears, Through her sorrow

“Mary” said he

She heard

“Rabboni” said she

The temple restored

An earthly friendship resumed

For but a short while

Christ is Risen

Alleluia Alleluia

Margaret Preuss-Higham

John 20;15 & 16

Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.” Jesus said, “Mary.” Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”

Judas

judas-window-hanging-3

I have sinned; I have brought an innocent man to death

Words spoken by the repentant Judas but not often heard

This is not easy to write about. Traditionally Judas is seen as the figure of evil,the betrayer who put Jesus on the cross. However without this betrayal the Messiah could not have fulfilled the scriptures foretelling of a trial in rejection by his people. Judas was instrumental in bringing about the peoples ultimate salvation from Rome only he did not comprehend the enormity of his actions at the time. The angry return of the money only solidified his guilt and his decision to commit suicide was a last, desperate human effort to allay his shame. By providing the mechanism by which the Resurrection could be fulfilled, some suggested Judas became the first martyr for the church.

Judas was handpicked by Jesus to be a disciple empowered to preach the gospel. Given authority to heal the sick,to cast out devils however he had weaknesses as did the other disciples. He was not among the most intimate of the group as Peter James and John. Judas might have felt one reason for this was because he was an outsider and not from Galilee, coming from Kerioth in the district of Jerusalem. On this point I asked you to consider whether Jesus may have specifically chosen an outsider that’s the one whom he knew would betray him in order that they would be no recriminations against the remaining 11 disciples and their families as they all came from Galilee.

Scripture tells us that Judas was a man of financial ability,, trusted to keep the common purse even though Matthew, the tax collector would have been better qualified.Judas was a man persuasive reasoning reflected by a scene in the home of Mary of Bethany. Mary had anointed Jesus with a rich appointment. Judas saw this act of love as a waste of precious money and should be sold and the money given to the poor. He was above suspicion by the other disciples after the final hours of his own life. At the Last Supper Jesus is that in the place of honour.. Maybe climbed near the Lord on the left so they could talk quietly. The composite picture of Judas as an ordained apostle of financial competence, with persuasive verbal abilities and the persona to command personal respect has compelled some to have compassion for him. Judas has been portrayed as almost virtuous, presented as a merely misguided patriot who actually love the Jesus and only hung himself because his scheme to force Christ into political leadership against Rome did not materialise.

It has been suggested that Judas used his reason in a clear sighted and call manner to discern that the Ministry of Christ was over I’m Judas saw a head on collision with the Roman authorities so he simply arrange to have the Lord arrested with the expectation that Christ would be out of harms way. Or was Judas so caught up in the hype of being one of the chosen is one, and by bringing about a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees, Jesus would be provoked becoming the leader of a politically motivated uprising against Roman occupation. Judas would in turn become one of the select few and therefore become the master of a very large common purse. But when Jesus didn’t fight back and the Romans took control of Jesus judas lost his resolve. The 30 pieces of silver he received was only a small amount which would not having surety safety following the betrayal, nor would it has provided him with a lifestyle free from guilt. Is this an indication that his motive was was financial? Probably not as he wanted to return it but then what was his motive for the returning of the money was it to distancing from the event. We know that he knows he made the wrong choice and regretted it taking his own life. The second century Greek teacher Origon suggests that as soon as Judas fully realised just what he had done he rushed to commit suicide in order to meet the Lord in Hades replace of all the dead and there he intended to break the Lord’s forgiveness.

One final observation: didn’t the Apostle Peter also betray the Lord by his denials? So, what’s the difference? Sure, Peter wept in bitter remorse for his betrayal, but Judas too confessed, “I have betrayed innocent blood” and gave back the thirty pieces of silver. So what’s the difference?

The difference is in the way that Peter and Judas see the crucified Lord. Peter had confidence in the mercy of Christ, and Judas did not! Judas’ greatest sin was not in having betrayed Christ, but in having doubted his mercy.

And so, here is what the story of our brother Judas should move us to do: to surrender ourselves to the one who freely forgives, to throw ourselves likewise into the outstretched arms of the Crucified One.

He sought out Peter after his denial to give him forgiveness, so who knows how he might have sought out Judas at some point in his way to Calvary! When Jesus prays from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34), he certainly does not exclude Judas from those for whom he prays.

Horrible was the nature of my sins,

but boundless mercy stretches out its arms

to any man who comes in search of it.

This is what Christ’s Passover can do for each and every one of us.

Betrayed

PENTAX Image

The Last Supper

by

Chris Higham

MAUNDY THURDAY

Most evenings we sit down for a meal with our family and tonight Jesus sits down in the upper room with his disciples who have become his family, his friends, his travelling companions, who have witnessed his miracles, who have heard his teachings but still they did not quite understand. But this wasn’t just a meal, it was to be jesus’ last meal with these friends and he knew it.
For on this very night Jesus will be betrayed by one of his friends, betrayed for 30 pieces of silver but for me the biggest betrayal was that Judas a used of a kiss, a sign of love to identify Jesus.
Before the meal began, Jesus knelt down to wash the disciples feet. This disturbed the disciples as it was the task of the humblest slave, whereas Jesus their master took it upon himself. Jesus got to know the disciples more closely by taking upon himself the role of their servant if you remember he said to them whoever wishes to become great among you, must be your servant and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.

In the “old upstairs downstairs” days good servants probably knew a lot more about their Masters mistresses then they let on. This however made them better servants, for by keeping their eyes open they can understand their employers needs and anticipate their demands. Was there something of this in our Lords decision to washes disciples feet? For he told his disciples to become servants of others just has he had become their servant: “if I your Lord and teacher have washed your fee”t he said” you also ought to wash one another’s feet for I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done. And to serve somebody you must learn about them what makes them tick, what their life experiences have been, who they are and how they think of themselves.
It’s very easy for a “do-gooder” to rush in and give someone what they think they need without taking the time to learn from them what they really need. You must get to know them and understand who they think of themselves to be and as we say where they are coming from for this you really need to look at them listen to the town of the voice and you may well learn a lot about them that they would never have been able to put into words themselves.

Jesus calls us to follow his example and to learn our neighbour stories by serving them he calls us to serve our neighbours as he himself served his disciples by washing the messy places in their lives with the love of God. Ask yourself whom Jesus is asking you to serve in all humility today.