It seems strange to think that the last time I preached was in late July. I have done plenty of other things on the learning curve of ministry (especially relating to funerals), and I know that shortly there are plenty of sermons looming in the diary, so life is far from dull. Anyway, I still get greatest pleasure from leading worship, which is what I shall be doing tomorrow – with a visiting priest to do some baptisms.
As I mention here, the summer themes (which are just completing) have been on the extra-ordinary things that Jesus did, mostly told from John’s Gospel. I had the joy of kicking the series off by turning water into wine… with props including bottles of water, ribena, a chalice of the real thing, a toastmaster’s jacket… and Mr Messy! I was reminded of it by Richard Littledale’s recent posts “Mr Preacher“… I’m probably little Little Miss Busy at present (Christian name, “Too”)
Being All Age, the sermon, was in fact 3 mini-talks:
Talk – the first
It’s the school holidays! Yeh!!!!! There is something about being married to a teacher that really makes you appreciate the summer holidays!
It’s a time for going places (especially weddings in our case this year) and for playing games! We do things like the red-telephone box game and pub cricket when we’re in the car. It doesn’t matter that folk are growing up, car games are still fun! We’re not in a car, we’re in church, but I thought we could still play a game this morning… It’s a bit like working out who the mystery guest is on Question of Sport:
Who do you think is in this picture?… [I used a familiar parish face] We recognise him, because we know what he looks like and know what he’s done here in St. Peter’s.
Shall we do another one?… [the next image revealed Mr Messy!] We recognise Mr Messy because we’ve read about him in books.
Last one; who’s this?… [the covered image revealed the crucifix in the gardens at Furzey.]
Because we know bits of the story of Jesus, we’re assume this a representation of him. But actually we don’t know what he looked like. During his lifetime and since, Jesus was really known by the extra-ordinary things that he did. These are what we’re going to be looking at a small group of over the summer, because it is through what we read, that we ‘hear’ what Jesus did, and that’s one way we can come to ‘know’ him.
In our story this morning Jesus is at a wedding, in a place called Cana, with some friends, and his Mum. We’re not told how well he knows the families involved, but we do know he’s only just met his friends, so of all the people at the wedding, it’s only his Mum Mary, who really knows Jesus and has some understanding of who he is.
From Luke’s Gospel we know that before his born, Mary was told by the angel that Jesus was the “Son of God”. When she and Joseph took him as a tiny infant to the Temple to give thanks for him, she was told he would be a symbol of “God’s glory” to the Jewish people he had been born among. At the beginning of John’s Gospel about Jesus, John talks about Jesus as the Word, someone who will be a bit like a book, showing and telling us about God. John says: “The Word became flesh and lived among us. We gazed upon his glory, glory like the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Looking at God’s glory is all about recognising God’s presence with us, and we do that by looking at Jesus, the Jesus we recognise on the cross, and these stories about him in the Bible.
I think Mary, is remembering all the things she knows about who Jesus is, and the idea that he would reveal God’s Glory by being God’s presence. She seems to have recognised that at some point Jesus will do some important and extra-ordinary things that will show people that he is special.
But, Mary recognises some other things in this story: She recognises the shame that the host family will feel, and the comments that will be made by unfeeling people in the local community if they run out of wine – traditional Jewish weddings involved the whole village and went on for days – there needed to be a lot of wine involved! Mary also recognises that Jesus may provide a solution to the shame that could be visited on the family hosting the wedding. Lastly, it is she who also works out who will be in the best position to respond to whatever it is that her son Jesus might do… that’s the servants, and she asks them to obey Jesus.
We’ll talk about the servants later, but in the meantime, I wonder if we can think about this as we prepare for a time of confession:
- Have there been examples of us not recognising the difficulties or shame that people around us face?
- Have there been times when we haven’t realised that Jesus offers the people we are with, a solution to their problems, or perhaps we’ve forgotten that he’s there to help us with ours?
- And, have there been times when someone has suggested we’re obedient to Jesus, and we haven’t been?
Talks, the second and third, are downloadable here (together with the first bit): Sermon John 2 v1-11