'What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory.' John 2:11
Brothers and sisters, life is a hard slog sometimes. First we had the pandemic, now we have a cost of living crisis. First we weren’t allowed to leave our homes, now we can’t afford to heat them. It can feel like it’s one hit after another. In the midst of the pandemic, and now with soaring prices, the Church relies for so much on volunteers. And when crises initially hit sometimes the volunteer level goes up; but now it’s been three years of one thing after another, and it would be understandable if we were starting to get a bit fed up of volunteering. In many ways it would be understandable, if exhausted, we just retreated to our homes, and—whether we can afford go out or not—simply closed the door, and forgot the world. This morning though, I want us to push back on that feeling. I want us to see that Jesus calls on us to keep serving because of what is promised for the future. Jesus wants us to keep serving while we wait for the huge party which He has promised and to which He is inviting everyone. You see God, the author of history, has already written the end of our story and it ends well, for it ends in the perfect marriage between God and His people. How can we keep serving amidst a world which goes through one crises after another? How can we have hope when for every glimpse of the sun, there is also a grey cloud; when for every day there is also a night? Well, we can have hope—and we can keep on serving—for God has written the end of the story. And the end of the story is amazing for those who follow Jesus.
Come with me now to our Gospel reading (John 2:1-11) where Jesus begins His ministry with a miracle which almost everyone who was present missed. Jesus’ miracle is noticed only by His mum, a handful of disciples, and a couple of servants. It seems a strange beginning, but now having reminded ourselves of where history is headed, perhaps this story isn’t so odd after all. John 2:1 says:
‘On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.
Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding’.
I hope you’ll see the resonances, you’ll see that here is something significant. Now, wine for the Jewish people was a symbol of joy and celebration. So bear that in mind, and look with me at v3: ‘When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ Here is a deep theological statement about where God’s people were spiritually. The people were spiritually depressed. They had no more joy, the spark had gone out, God’s people had dried up and felt they had nothing to celebrate. It was as if they had… no more wine. Often enough, I think we in the twenty-first century feel exactly the same! Perhaps, now more than ever! We feel depressed, we feel exhausted, we feel as if we are at a low ebb. We too are out of joy. Mary’s statement could be true of many of us here today: ‘They have no more wine.’ If that is how we feel, then, what shall we do? Mary knows! Listen to her answer in John 2:5: ‘Mary says: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’’ Do whatever Jesus tells you, listen to Him, follow Him and you will find life, you will find the wine that leads to real joy and celebration. Listen to Jesus, do whatever He tells you, and you will find all that you have been looking for and far, far more.
So what does Jesus tell us to do? Surely we aren’t to decant water, and take it to people’s houses in the hope of it turning into wine. Here, the letter from St Paul to the Romans gives us our answer. Romans 12:6-8:
‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement;
if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.’
In other words work out where your gifts, are what time, talents, and treasure you have and give it freely to your brothers and sisters. How can you help Jesus and His Church to serve those around them? Get to know the people who live around you, and you will discover people in need; perhaps it is a housebound or homeless person; perhaps it is a single parent,or a person who is struggling with cancer; there is plenty to be done, perhaps now more than ever. This week we’re looking for a Rainbow leader, we’re looking for people to help the Events team, we’re always looking for people to help staff services people to help look after the building, people to sing in the choir, and people to join the PCC. So what is your gift, how can you serve, because there is no Christian who isn't called to serve. To sum it up, St Paul says, chapter 12 verse 10: ‘Be devoted to one another in love.’ Paul isn’t here being romantic. He isn’t thinking just of easy times! No, Paul is reminding us of Jesus’ command which is for all occasions, and for all situations. Verse 12: ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’ Keep going says Jesus. Keep going says St Paul. For how long? Until Jesus calls you home to the great wedding party which awaits. Wherever we are in our lives, wherever we find ourselves in history, the end of the struggle is in sight. And unlike the end of the pandemic, this end, this conclusion, this wedding is guaranteed! For the One who created the world, the One who can turn water into wine, and the One who has beaten death, He has promised, and in Him we can have hope Here then in our readings this morning God points His people to the end of time and whispers in our ears ‘Hold on!’ Do not give up. Stand firm and keep on serving; for the end is coming, for a day is coming when you will be invited to the greatest wedding there will ever be, when you will united with Your Saviour and all darkness will pass away. The wedding of Jesus and His Church is coming, and therefore we can have hope, and therefore we keep on serving. Amen (Fr Mike).