Sermon for 20th January 2019 by Rev Ellie Goldsmith

SERMON for Ladock  20.1.19  Epiphany 3

 

Isaiah 62. 1-5    Psalm 36. 5 – 10   1 Corinthians 12. 1 – 11   John 2. 1 – 11

 

St John specifically tells us that he has deliberately selected material for his Gospel for a particular purpose:  John 20:

30 Jesus performed many [other] signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The other 3 Gospels do similar – they have a message in mind, and they keep this focus, the main thing is the main thing

which is John 3:16

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

Frustrating as it is, we know very little about Jesus’s childhood, apart from Luke’s story about when Jesus was 12 from which we glimpse a little bit of the character of the growing and maturing Jesus.

So the Readings we have during Epiphany – which of course means, revelation – are particularly important as they gradually reveal Jesus, and we begin to see what sort of person He is, and how we and others react to him.

 

The miracle of the wine – or rather the miraculous sign – reveals new things about Jesus.

One of these things is, I think, that Jesus enjoys weddings and celebrations!  And decent wine!

 

Marriage and wedding celebrations are in fact a theme through the Bible:  Genesis begins with the story of man and woman, and it ends with heaven being described in Revelation as a wedding feast. 

This is the language we heard from Isaiah 62 – God has sent his Prophet Isaiah to encourage his people on their return home from exile in Babylon.  It’s loving and tender.

 

The Gospel message is first and foremost one of celebration:  it’s a love story between God and his people, his treasured possessions.

This first miraculous sign reveals something of this love in Jesus – love for those in need, love of Life itself.

And we are told the reaction of the disciples to Jesus:  they put their faith in Him.

We might think, no surprise there!  Parties and free wine!  I’ll go with that!

 

But of course, as Jesus was revealed more and more, the disciples had different reactions to him.

They always had the choice:  stick with him or leave him  ….. John 6: 60 tells us that some of Jesus’ teaching was hard to take; there were those who left, and Jesus asked the 12 close disciples:  Do you want to leave too?

Peter answered for them:  ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’

 

 

On another occasion, Jesus was returning to Bethany after death threats.  It was the disciple Thomas who encouraged the others to stick with Him even in the face of danger:   ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’  John 11:16

Jesus was always sparing with his miracles, because he didn’t want people to follow him for the wrong reasons – free wine, or free bread and fish, or a wedding invitation.  But we don’t reject these either!  We come and join the celebrations and we commit to the commiserations.

True disciples, true followers of Jesus, are the ones who can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ – I’ll follow Him whatever the ups and downs in life.  There is no alternative.

 

It’s a big thing to say, Jesus is Lord. 

What does it mean to say this?

Well lots of things!  But one thing is:  it means that we place the government of our lives on his shoulders; he’s in charge;

we let him take control of our decisions and the direction we take;

he’s Lord of our diaries, our bank accounts, and our gifts and abilities;

but we always have a choice:  stick or leave, follow or flee.

 

The other thing that it means to say, Jesus is Lord, is that we commit to the same mission as Jesus:  we commit to sharing the glory of Jesus and our faith with others.  We work to see lives changed from water to wine, lives that commit to Jesus as Lord, lives eventually completely transformed and finding their place at the heavenly feast.

Isaiah said for the sake of others, he will not keep silent until God’s goodness and salvation is blazed across the sky for all to see – well and truly revealed!

We will say today, ‘We share in the Body of Christ’ – we are commissioned to carry on the work of Jesus

And he helps us:  the Spirit of Jesus gives us gifts so that we can let others know ‘how priceless is God’s unfailing love’; where ‘they can find refuge under the shadow of his protecting wings’, where they can feast, and drink from the river of delights’.c               

And we do this together: together we can reveal the glory of the Lord Jesus, together God can build faith.

 

The list of gifts described by Paul writing to the Corinthian Christians is not exhaustive, but it is important; after all, Paul was perhaps the greatest of all sharers of Jesus’s glory and encourager of faith.

We know we have many gifts here in St Erme/Ladock, but there are some missing too that could make a big difference to the common good here, to growing the Church.

And, of course, it’s easy to rely on the gifts of others  - e.g. on our Rector, Joachim, which I’ve been tempted to do.

 

I know Joachim is thinking about how others can discover God’s kingdom and how we can grow the church. So I wonder if you might read through this list of gifts again at home (1 Cor. 12) and let the Holy Spirit prompt you to ask for one of the gifts you think are missing.  Then we’ll get together and pray for these gifts, and all our gifts, so that Jesus’ amazing glory is revealed more fully, and faith is built in us and in others. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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