Today we welcome back the Revd. Adrian Bell who will take our service and preach the homily. It’s good to have you with us, Adrian.
+ In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
The Greeting: Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
and also with you.
Prayer of Preparation:
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our lord. Amen.
The Gloria: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God, the Father. Amen
The Collect – Epiphany 2
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Isaiah 62: 1-5
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.2 The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.3 You will be a crown of splendour in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.4 No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married.5 As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
1 Corinthians 12: 1-1112
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
John 2: 1-112
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone
brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
I can’t remember how many times I have been to a wedding reception and some joker has said, ‘Come on Vicar, why not change the water into wine?’ As with all jokes aimed at the clergy it is always good to take them in good heart as often the person making the joke has had too much celebratory champagne.
Today in the Gospel reading we celebrate a wedding. The miracle of the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee is used in the Anglican wedding service really to confirm that Jesus, as a good orthodox Jew, agreed with weddings and he blessed them by his presence there with his mother and disciples.
Even though I attended a prep-school as a child where a number of Jewish boys attended, I have only been to one Jewish wedding and that was a wedding rehearsal at a Synagogue as part of our education. It was fascinating to see the ‘chuppah’ – the canopy over the bride and groom, similar to that used at the Coronation of the Queen during her anointing. Also, to see the breaking of the ceremonial glass by the groom with his foot. But the most moving and romantic part of the wedding rehearsal was the bride slowly circling the bridegroom 3 times to represent righteousness, justice and loving kindness.
Whether all this went on in the time of Jesus we do not know but, actually, I think that this reading from St John was not included to encourage marriage but to show the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. In these first 12 chapters of St. John’s Gospel, we see Jesus performing various miracles such as the feeding of the 5,000, stilling the storm and it culminates in the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This miracle of changing the water into wine is just one of many examples in the Gospel where we see the glory of God revealed in Jesus.
Some of the younger members of our families may have watched yet another viewing of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of Lost Ark on TV this Christmas. The film is only 30 years old and glimpses a little of the Hollywood view of the Ark of the Covenant. However, St John clearly states that the splendour and glory of God which rested in the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of God at the time of the Kings of Israel has moved on. This glory, shown through creation and glimpsed in history is now concentrated in one person – Jesus Christ.
So, this second Sunday of Epiphany is a time of revelation or manifestation and understanding about the purpose of Jesus Christ and his great power. Changing water into wine may not be that world changing, but these miracles conclude with the raising of a dead man from the grave and Jesus being raised by God from the dead after 3 days in a tomb.
We must also consider the disciples and the many believers who followed on from them and those who would read St John’s Gospel. They needed to be encouraged. Through these miracles these young and inexperienced disciples began to have total faith in Jesus. They had all come from various callings and their faith needed to grow. The wedding in Cana in Galilee was just a beginning of this relationship and this relationship would be an eternal one as they came to know Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.
In the New Year many of us are concerned about the future and we will need to work together in whatever place God has called us so that we make sure that people are secure and safe, and that the church’s message continues to be sown. In his New Year message the Archbishop of Canterbury said this…………
“When we plant a seed, we don’t see the fruit immediately. But under the surface, God is working with what we have planted. In the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I see that God turns all endings into new beginnings, and death into life. God invites us to be part of this story – to be people who bring hope, healing and renewal to our world. This year, let’s keep planting those seeds – let’s keep moving forward in hope”.
The Second Sunday of Epiphany and the New Year are a time to look at how we can promote the Gospel and often as with Jesus Christ, the Church is at its best when it is doing something. As I walk around the Swaffham town each morning, I see the churches doing their various activities which include: helping to distribute food through the Food Bank, working in the schools and community groups, and working in the hospital and care homes. There is no doubt in my mind that the Church during this year will be more effective by what it does than what it says. Jesus taught his disciples by these important actions and many others and this they carried on into the emerging new church.
Today the church is at a crossroads: the Diocese is looking to restructure itself, fewer clergy will be in parishes, but that does not mean that the work of the church will cease. In my mind and my ministry, I have always felt that actions are far more important than words. What the church does is seen and often what it says is ignored. Changing water into wine is not our task, but sacramentally changing bread into the body of Christ and wine into the blood of Christ, is an honour and is central to this service and the ministry of the church. We are fed so we can go out in the community to serve.
We pray that Christ may be seen in the life of the Church. You have called us into the family of those who are the children of God. May our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ be strengthened by your grace. We pray for this church of St Peter and Paul and this community we serve. We pray for all those who live and work within our boundaries. We pray for our Benefice, continuing to remember those whose task it is to appoint clergy for this Deanery. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
You have called us to be a temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell. Give us clean hands and pure hearts so that our lives will reflect your holiness. We pray for all those in positions of leadership across the nations of the world that they may govern wisely and justly. We pray for our own Prime Minister and all who make decisions about the economic life of our country. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
You have called us to be a light to the world, so that those who dwell in darkness may come to you. May our lives shine as a witness to the saving grace you have given for all. We pray for our Bishops: Graham, Alan and Jane and all clergy and lay leaders. We pray for all those we meet as we go about our daily lives. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
You have called us to be members of your body, so that when one suffers, all suffer together. We ask for your comfort and healing power to bring hope to those in distress. We pray for all health professionals during this continuing time of pandemic. We pray for those who work in medical research and those who continue to spend long hours volunteering for the vaccination rollout. Today we pray for ……Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
You have called us to be the Bride, where you, Lord, are the Bridegroom. Prepare us for the wedding feast, where we will be united with you for ever.We pray for all those from amongst our own families and friends who have departed this life.Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
Jesus, Lord of the Church,you have called us into fellowship with all your saints.We unite our prayers with St Peter and St Pauland ask for grace to serve you with joywhere you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,one God, now and for all eternity.
Merciful Father,accept these prayersfor the sake of your Son,our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
The Peace:Our Saviour Christ is the Prince of Peaceof the increase of his government and of peacethere shall be no end.The peace of the Lord be always with youAnd also with you.
The Lord’s Prayer:Our Father, who art in heaven,hallowed be thy name,thy kingdom come;thy will be done;on earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread.And forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us.And lead us not into temptation;but deliver us from evil.For thine is the kingdom,the power and the glory,for ever and ever. Amen.
Final Prayer:God of glory,you nourish us with your Wordwho is the bread of life:fill us with your Holy Spiritthat through us the light of your glorymay shine in all the world.we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The Blessing:Christ the Son of God perfect in you the image of his glory and gladden your hearts with the good news of his kingdom;and the blessing of God Almighty,the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with youalways. Amen