On Sunday January 17th I led worship at Killinghall Chapel. On the previous evening I suddenly noticed that it was snowing heavily and could see it settling. I hoped the main roads would be clear on Sunday. I was relieved that was the case, although it took me 15 minutes to de-ice the car and brush the snow off the roof. I just had to be careful navigating out of the drive and our road and the next road, but had no problem on the main roads. I was pleased to see that a lot of people had managed to get to the chapel too.
We began worship as we sang ‘All my hope on God is founded’ before I led the opening prayers. I gave a talk to the children using some red food colouring to colour water, adding drops each time we thought of kind things we could do for other people. I told them about Jesus changing the water into wine at the wedding when the wine ran out, as his mother had asked him to. He had quietly met the family’s needs and I suggested that doing good turns quietly like being friends with new child in the class or standing up for anyone who is bullied is being a real caring friend. I said anyone could do something to cheer someone up or be helpful. The children and adults seemed to listen well.
We sang ‘Brother, sister, let me serve you’ before the children left for their groups. Members of the congregation read ‘Isaiah 62.1-5’ and ‘1 Corinthians 12.1-11. We sang ‘There is a Redeemer’ before members of the congregation took part in the dramatised reading based on John 2.1-11.
In the sermon I described how Isaiah kept on praying for God’s promises to restore Zion until the nations could see the righteousness of the restored people. The people had been forsaken and left desolate like a vulnerable widow, as they had failed to keep their failure to keep their covenant with Yahweh. God would give Zion new names of ‘my delight is in her’ and ‘married’ to signify its restoration. God will never finally abandon or give up on us no matter how many times we let him down.
Jesus and his disciples were attending a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee with his mother, when his mother came to tell him that the wine had run out. Jesus responded quite abruptly by saying his hour had not yet come, but his mother just told the servants to do what he said. Jesus recognised the public disgrace that would come to the family giving the feast if they were unable to provide the complete hospitality expected over the days a wedding was celebrated. He told the servants to fill up the six water jars and draw out a glass from one; the water now turned into wine was given to the steward and he was surprised that the best wine had only been served now. The water jars were needed for the Jewish purifying ceremonies of washing the feet and hands often between courses at meals. Turning the water into wine was seen as the first sign revealing the meaning of Jesus’ ministry. Jewish legalism was represented by the water for ritual purification had been transformed into the new wine of the gospel. However only the servants and Jesus’ mother knew where the wine had come from. Jesus did not just supply their needs but his provision was superabundant.
In Corinthians Paul warned the Christians to test that the manifestations of the Spirit in their church were authentic. Anyone who was able to curse Jesus could not be speaking from the true Spirit of God; only those who acknowledged Jesus as Lord could be inspired by God’s Spirit. Having given his warning Paul encouraged the Christians to seek gifts from the Holy Spirit to build up the church. All the gifts came from the same Spirit and enabled them to make a more complete contribution to the church.
I suggested that we could all seek to find out what more God has for each one of us in this New Year. Did He want us to seek more Spiritual gifts to build up our faith or was He showing us how to use the gifts we already have to build up the church? Let us not miss out on the more abundant Grace of God so freely offered to us and make us open to new ways of serving others in the church and in our needy world.
We sang one of my favourite hymns which showed us how we can receive more from Christ and truly serve others:
‘Longing for light, we wait in darkness,
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
Light for the world to see.
Christ be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ be our light!
Shine in your Church gathered today.’
We sang the first three verses before I led the prayers of intercession and we sang the final two verses after the prayers of intercession, whilst remaining seated. We concluded worship when we sang another lovely hymn, ‘All I once held dear’ with the chorus beginning, ‘Knowing you, Jesus, Knowing you. There is no greater thing. You’re my all, you’re the best.’