Sunday 24 January Epiphany 3

This Sunday we are celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Please join us for a service of Morning Praise at 10am on Zoom led by our Team Curate, Rev’d Melanie Otto.

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To protect our congregation, staff and volunteers there are no services at our churches for the time being.

Please sign up for our e-newsletter on the form on this page to find out how to join our online services or contact us.

Join with the Westbury Area Churches Together at 7pm to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a livestreamed service on the West End Baptist Church YouTube Channel led by Rev’d Ian McManus. Andrew the Bishop Ramsbury will preach the sermon. Join us afterwards for fellowship on Zoom – bring your own coffee (or something stronger!)

Click on this link to join https://youtu.be/ow_JHxX5yEs

Collect for the Third Sunday of Epiphany

God of all mercy,
your Son proclaimed good news to the poor,
release to the captives,
and freedom to the oppressed:
anoint us with your Holy Spirit
and set all your people free
to praise you in Christ our Lord.
Amen

Readings

Genesis 14: 17 – 20

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said,

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    maker of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’

And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.

Psalm 128

Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands;
    you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
Thus shall the man be blessed
    who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion.
    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life.
May you see your children’s children.
    Peace be upon Israel!

Revelation 19: 6 – 10

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,

‘Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready;
to her it has been granted to be clothed
    with fine linen, bright and pure’—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’

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 10 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.’ 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Reflection

Have you ever had an idea and put it forward only for someone else to get all the glory? How did you feel? Maybe you were gracious and were just delighted that the idea had been adopted and your vision was going to come to fruition. Or maybe you felt quite miffed, ignored or overlooked? Quite often our human response is not very admirable, but it is very real and something worth reflecting on. After all, most of us do like to feel acknowledged, we want to know that what we are contributing is of value and that we are worth listening to.

But sometimes our motivation is not just about acknowledgment but rather about wanting the glory. ‘That was my idea you know’, ‘Well I was the one who initiated the project and got the ball rolling’. We want to take centre stage, we want the attention to be on us, we want to revel in the glory. Has this ever happened to you? How did you feel?

At Café Church this month, Ashley spoke about the transformation that occurred at Jesus’ baptism which then equipped him for his future ministry. In last week’s service, Caroline and I looked at Colossians where St Paul reminds us to do everything as if we are doing it for the Lord. This week Helen, Graham (their grandson Finch) and I will be discovering how Mary gave Jesus centre stage and how they both gave God the glory as he turned water into wine.

What is interesting in this passage is that Mary clearly initiated this situation – she was told that the wine had run out and her immediate response was to ask Jesus to help. It seems quite a trivial problem and not something that you would think would warrant a miracle. How often have we been in a similar, embarrassing situation? But Mary understands the cultural and emotional costs to the family and therefore asks Jesus to intervene. And Jesus’ response seems quite curt ‘What is it to me woman, my hour has not yet come’ but she is not deterred and instead tells the servants to do as he says. And so, we witness Jesus’ first miracle. The transformation of water into wine. Ordinary into extraordinary.

But what strikes me this time about this passage is that Mary is not going round telling the bridegroom’s mother that SHE saved the day, that it was HER idea, and that they should be very grateful to HER that she had bothered to ask Jesus for help. In fact, neither she nor Jesus make a big show of the miracle. Only the servants were aware that a miracle had taken place. But the servants had seen it and therefore could witness to it – that something extraordinary had happened. And God was given the glory. Mary in her asking for Jesus’ intervention was pointing to his power. Jesus in his performing of the miracle was showing the confidence he had in the Father who cares, even about the trivial things. In both their responses, the Father was glorified.

Can we say that about our everyday responses? Is the Father glorified?

When things happen do we look for the glory or do we seek to point to the one who deserves all the glory?

Take time this week to reflect on this passage and ask yourself how you would respond if you were Mary. And as you do so may God reveal to you how much he delights in you, the plans and purposes he has for, and may you know his joy in your heart. Amen.

Rev’d Melanie Otto