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 are from dust and to dust all return

ash

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, not forgetting schnitzel with noodles, words from the song my favourite things as sung by Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. What is this song have to do with lent. For many people, lent means giving up that favourite something: Your favourite glass of wine, favourite chocolate bar, maybe maybe even go one step further and give up smoking a good. abstaining from some of these things may improve your health, and Lent provides a framework in which you can learn to control your impulses. But as well as these negative resolutions, there’s been a move over the last few years to make more positive resolutions during Lent. Instead of giving up or cutting down take positive action. Think you’re going to start doing for them.

On Sunday we had the reading of the Transfiguration where a voice from heaven said about Jesus “this is my son, who love, listen to him” when I spoke about giving time for reflection, for prayer, to listening to God. So how about starting to learn to pray better. We need to pray that God will give us strength to keep our Lenten discipline; but praying doesn’t come easily.

In Matthew 6.v5-6 Jesus says
“When you pray, you mustn’t be like the play actors. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, So that people will notice them. I’m telling you the truth: they have received very bored in full. No: when you pray, go into your own room, shut the door, and praise your Father who is there in secret. And your father, who sees in secret, will repay you”

Prayer is meant to be an intimate process an intimate time between you and God, it is about our own yours and mine ,our individual relationship with God, so it must be free from distractions and directed 100% at God and not done to impress others. If possible we should find a quiet place and have a quiet time with God is once-a-day. But that is not always easy, if you work at it it is possible to find quiet moments and places, that moment might not always be in church, the parent it might be when children are in bed when we are walking.

Prayer is not easy especially without about privacy I believe it was Rowan Williams who says even he has time when he finds it hard to pray so maybe this Lent will be a good time start refocus on prayer and seek out Times of absolute quiet perhaps moving to a period of meditation creating a deeper inner stillness so that we can be alone with God. As I said on Sunday,maybe God has something he wishes you do for your church, an idea for outreach into the community.

Let’s just go back to Matthew and the ending of v6 “and your father,who sees in secret,will repay you.not that prayer is done for reward and Jesus doesn’t say what kind of reward we should expect. That,too, is part of the point. Simply knowing God better is reward enough; but there may be other things as well.What is clear is that he is inviting his followers to a life in which inside and out match perfectly because both our focused on the God who sees in secret.

Amen.

If I was a shepherd I would bring a lamb,……. yet what can I give him, give him my heart.

Last sunday I was privileged  to baptize Beatrice Rose and this is the sermon I preached.

Christ the king

Gracious God your love upholds all creation.

In your Son’s life among us, you embraced the weakest and most vulnerable.

Fill us with your Spirit that we may welcome and serve all as he did. Amen.

Today is a special day in the church year. next week we move into the Season of advent and preparation for Christmas when I was thinking about the gospel the lines of the carol  in the bleak midwinter came to mind “if I were a Shepherd I would bring a lamb yet what can I gave him give him my heart” and that is exactly what the sheep in the gospel this morning have done they  have given their hearts. And now they Will enter into the kingdom because of their actions they are to be blessed but what actions did they take, let’s look at the actions in relation to our lives.

I was hungry and thirsty and you gave me food and drink . What is the first thing that you do when you welcome someone into your home 9/10 you offer food and drink tea coffee and cake/ biscuit?

I was homeless and you gave me a room, sometimes we can’t give a home give to  a homeless person t when Jesus was due to be born his  parents were homeless and they were given the room. we can give Jesus a room ,a  place in our lives

I was shivering and you gave me clothes when you think of shivering one tends to think about being cold but the shivering could be fear and the clothing given could be a prayer a smile and   Of course it  could a coat

I was in prison and you came to me; the prison could be behind bars but those bars may not be the iron bars of prison window. It could be outside forces the prison of being in debt the prison of being lonely the prison of being abused and that can be helped by Christians fighting for justice for those in this situation.

I was sick and you stop to visit.

in the gospel the  sheep/people don’t actually know what they had done so they ask the master what he’s talking about and ask the  question “ when did you we ever  see you hungry and feed you when did we see you Thirsty and give you a drink. And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you to that Master says whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored that was me you did it for me you  welcomed me.  You welcomed me you let me cross the threshold come into your life into your  hearts.And in doing this become members of a community. We become members of that community when we are baptised into the church parents and godparents and the local congregation help how to bring us up within the church community we worship together regularly because we needed encouragement, which the community gives us in our struggle against injustice in the world. Remember we are members of the church community because we all need someone who loves us and listens to us, and a sense of purpose in life

Today this community welcomes a little lamb, welcomes Beatrice into our church community. today is a historic day for the family and for this church because Beatrice’s grandmother and mother were both baptized in the font at St Mary’s Church.

Beatrice starts out on her Christian journey with the promise that God will be her constant companion, he’ll be in front I’m behind her and will carry her when she needs holding. Her godparents will make promises on her behalf and with those promises come the promise from God to be with her, a promise that never can be broken. Beatrice will be signed with the cross of Jesus Christ and cross that cannot be removed  she is now part of gods family, a family you cannot leave. She will be given her name and she will be washed in the precious water baptism so they may always receive forgiveness in their lives and never be separated God. And at  the end of the service she will receive a lit  candle to show that Jesus as light has come into her life and with the light of Christ in her life the light that overcomes darkness. As she grows in faith,  the one thing important thing is that she will be welcome into the fellowship of faith,  you the congregation will join me and saying we welcome you into the fellowship of faith, we are children of the same heavenly Father “we welcome you”. Then we will say the peace, that we are all one in Jesus Christ, that we belong to him in faith which takes us back to our Gospel to the sheep who welcomed the master into their lives through the acts of kindness and the acts of love and those who welcomed are blessed and sit on the right hand in the kingdom of God. Amen.

Was Mary the first feminist.

Martha and Mary

            MARTHA AND MARY

                  PAINTED   BY

                CHRIS HIGHAM

 

“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

 

Was Mary the first feminist and yes, Martha is vacuuming but did she want to sit a the feet of Jesus as well? and go against convention.

 

Why this picture, well it brings the story to today,                                                        a492b-marymarthacontemp

 
In Jesus time Martha would have been brushing and  today we use a vacuum, but that is where it ends. We still behave the same, always busy, distracted by the tasks of every day life.
Martha is distracted, preparing a meal for Jesus and his followers. she didn’t have the use of the mod cons we have to today ,the microwave or freezer. she couldn’t prepare the meal in advance given the hot climate. food had to be prepared and eaten straight away.
Can you imagine Martha getting more resentful as she works hard and Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, listening to his every word. I wonder is it because she wishes to be sat with Jesus or is it because as a female it is Mary’s duty as a woman to also look after the hospitality? Also Mary had crossed an imaginary line, she was behaving like a man. In that culture the house was divided into male space and female space, and male and female roles were clearly defined and this line shouldn’t be crossed. Mary had crossed it and Martha wasn’t happy. She was so upset that she demanded the Jesus make her sister help with the work.
His reply “Martha dear, you are fussing far too much and getting yourself worked over nothing” But  to Martha it wasn’t nothing, to Martha hospitality was important. After all, it was Jesus in their home and you feed your guest.
What is the first thing we do, we offer and cup of tea or coffee and maybe a biscuit or cake.I wonder would you want Jesus to turn to Mary and say “get up and help, do something”
The second part of Jesus’ reply “one thing only is essential and Mary has chosen it. It is the main course and won’t be taken from her”
Mary had chosen to listen, to take time to hear the words spoken by her guest, to hear his teachings, to contemplate on his words. Mary had gone beyond the business of serving to the service of contemplation.
Martha represents the active, women those who visit, extend hospitality, those who dedicate their time being Gods outward present, leading by example.
Mary a contemplative, stands for all those women who, when they hear Jesus speaking about the kingdom of God, know that God is calling them to listen carefully so that they can speak of it too. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus as his student, as   a would- be teacher and preacher of the kingdom of God.
Both active and contemplative are both important. Without, the first we wouldn’t eat and without the second we wouldn’t worship.
We should work hard ,but not too hard and should remember to to enjoy life that hes been given to us by the grace of God,too feel our place in the spirit. We should do the things we are called to do, no matter how difficult they are. At the centre of of this Mary/Martha or as I read  ying/yang is Jesus our Lord and Saviour – the person we should  spend time with when we can stop ourselves being  busy, for Jesus the reason we live life the way we do.
So was Mary one of the first feminist, I think she should be considered so. She crossed the line; she sat as the men did at the feet of the teacher,as a pupil to learn , as a would be teacher and preacher of the kingdom of God.
 
So what would you do, would you be doing the vacuuming or would leave it for another day and sit at the feet of Jesus. I know what I would do. Are you a Mary or a Martha ?