Today our deacon David Hunt led our service at Wesley Chapel this morning ably assisted by our worship leader Christine Bunting. Christine began worship as we sang ‘At the name of Jesus’ and led the opening prayers. She then began the children’s address with saying how we all change as we grow up. She gave the example of a seed growing into a tree and asked for any examples from the children. A granny suggested a sunflower. A child suggested a caterpillar and Christine described the stages of the caterpillar from an egg to a caterpillar, then chrysalis and finally to a butterfly. Another suggestion was a tadpole to a frog. Then Christine spoke about the Wedding of Cana. She said that Jesus was just an ordinary man whose mother Mary recognised was extraordinary and so she told him that the wine had run out and told the servants to do what he said. They did as he told them taking the water to be tasted and now it was wine, the best saved to the end. Christine had some water in a decanter and poured some into a glass just as the servants had been told to do and her water turned red; it was a spectacular illustration which will not be forgotten by the children nor by the congregation, I am sure. We sang Jesus is Lord, creation’s voice proclaims it before the children left for their groups.
David then further explained about how Jesus transformed the ordinary water into the extraordinary, the best wine. We too can be transformed by Jesus’ love if we listen to him and do what he tells us to do; we can even do extraordinary things in our lives. The wedding was not just a big party but it was a time of change; a woman became a wife; a man became a husband and Mary had become a woman as Jesus addressed her as woman, no longer a child mother, and a disciple of Jesus. These were the last words recorded in the gospels that Mary said as Jesus was about to become a public figure. The reading from 1 Corinthians 12v1-11 also showed how the Holy Spirit can transform our lives.
The familiar miracle of changing water into wine is not a spectacular miracle, not one to draw attention to Jesus, but it was to help the family avoid humiliation when the wine was running out! Our extraordinary God wants to work in our ordinary lives and bring the transformation. Jesus was not born in a palace to royalty but to an ordinary peasant couple. He was born not in a major city but in Bethlehem. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is still transforming lives today. Very little is known about Jesus’ early life except that he grew up in Nazareth probably supporting his family as a carpenter. The wedding family were probably relatives of Mary. A wedding would begin with a wedding feast at the home of the bride and groom and the celebration would last a week. If the wine ran out the host of the wedding could suffer humiliation for years and even sanctions in court; they were expected to provide their guests properly. Jesus was unknown, an ordinary wedding guest, who responded to the social calamity and his mother’s instructions? The 6 water jars hold about 20 gallons of water, each jar being the equivalent volume of a wheelie bin and Jesus instructed the servant to fill the jars and take a glass full to the host; the glass of water had become wine, which was the best wine and there was more than enough for everyone there. Jesus brings abundance for everyone. Nothing is above Jesus’ power to transform. The last words recorded of Mary were the most important she had said: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ If we trust in Jesus and listen to his voice and follow what he tells us we cannot underestimate what Jesus can do; nothing is impossible for him. Jesus was and is concerned with ordinary everyday life and even apparently insignificant things can be transformed into the extraordinary. We may think that we are just ordinary people but as we give our lives to Jesus he transforms us into disciples. We may think the jobs we do in the church are not as important as others; giving out books and greeting people; providing coffee are all important as they make members and visitors feel welcome. We all have gifts to offer to Jesus which can be transformed by him. If we do whatever Jesus tells us our lives and our community can be transformed and we can all receive an abundance of his grace to meet our needs. The words of this new hymn from ‘Singing the Faith’ by Marjorie Dobson reiterates this message in verses 1 and 4.
‘Lord, you call us to your service,
Each in our own way.
Some to caring, loving, healing;
Some to preach, or pray;
Some to work with quiet learning,
Day by day.’
‘Lord, we set our human limits
On the work we do.
Send us your directing Spirit,
Pour your power through,
That we may be free in living
And in giving
All for you.’