Service for 24/01/21

Posted by Barbara Nadin on 22 January 2021

Melbourne URC Morning Service 24th January 2021 10.30am

Water into Wine.

Please read the service slowly to yourselves savouring the words as you prefer.

You will need your Bible and a candle to light.

To begin, please open your Bible and place it where you can see it.

 

Welcome

Well, I was really hoping and praying that by now we would be back in church again and I was there with you in person.  Sadly that is not to be and we are back in a lockdown for the third time.  It’s very sad that we can’t be with each other in person, but wherever we are we can be assured that Jesus is with us though his Spirit.  He knows where we are, knows how we are feeling, loves us and upholds us.  So this morning we hold a moment of quiet and then read the words of the call to worship.

The call to Worship.

Come among us Jesus,

You who put the stars into space,

You who turned water into wine

You lit a flame that dances forever

Light up our lives and come and meet us here.

 

So as we come into God’s presence this morning we read or sing our first hymn.

As we are gathered, Jesus is here,

one with each other, Jesus is here;

Joined by the Spirit, washed in his blood,

Part of the Body, the Church of God.

As we are gathered, Jesus is here,

one with each other, Jesus is here.

 

Please light your own peace candle and read the following prayer.

We light this candle for peace in a broken world.  Let your light shine in places where darkness prevails. Transform the ugliness into beauty. Be a beacon of hope to those who are anxious and in despair and a warming fire to those who are weary. Give the world the peace which only you can bring.

Confession :

As we pray so we confess our failings:

Lord we come to ask your healing – teach us of love.

All unspoken shame revealing – teach us of love

Take our selfish thoughts and actions, petty feuds, divisive actions,

Hears us now to you appealing – Teach us of love.

(Jean Holloway/Keith Duke c Kevin Meyhew)

 

Listen to the words of Christ, words that we can trust “Don’t be afraid, your sins are forgiven, I love you, come take up your cross and follow  me.” Thanks be to God amen.

We say together the prayer our Lord Jesus Christ taught us:

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.

 

1st Reading. Revelation 19.6-10

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,
‘Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,  and his bride has made herself ready;
to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure’—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’

Thanks be to God for his holy word.

Holy Bible NRSV

 

We read or sing our second hymn.

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,

Christ, the true, the only light,

Sun of righteousness, arise,

triumph o’er the shades of night;

Day-spring from on high be near;

Day-star, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn,

unaccompanied by Thee;

joyless is the day’s return,

till Thy mercy’s beams I see;

till ,they inward light impart,

Glad my eyes and warm my heart.

 

Visit then this soul of mine;

piece the gloom of sin and grief;

fill me, radiancy divine;

scatter all my unbelief;

more and more Thyself display,

shining to the perfect day.

(Charles Wesley)

 

2nd Reading.  John 2.1-11.The Wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

This is the Gospel of Christ.

NRSV Holy Bible.

 

We read or sing our third hymn.

Be still for the presence of the Lord,

the Holy One is here;

come bow before him now

with reverence and fear;

in Him no sin is found –

we stand on holy ground.

Be still for the presence of the Lord,

the Holy One, is here.

Be still, for the glory of the Lord

is shining all around;

He burns with holy fire,

With splendour He is crowned;

how awesome is the sight –

our radiant King of light!

Be still for the glory of the Lord

is shining all around.

Be still for the power of the Lord

is moving in this place;

He comes to cleanse and heal,

to minister His grace –

No work too hard for Him,

in faith receive from Him.

Be still for the power of the Lord

is moving in this place.

 

Reflection  : John 2:1-11

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Well, Christmas has gone. The trees and tinsel are packed away. The lights are out, and here we are again, stuck in a lockdown and this time in the middle of winter!  One of the few positive things I have found in lockdowns is that it makes us slow down so much that we start to notice changes that might have otherwise passed us by.

One tea- time it was just getting dark, when suddenly and unexpectedly, down came the snow in huge, huge flakes.  Within an hour everything was transformed into a bright, white, pristine, silent landscape.  It only lasted long enough to catch out the motorists in the Peak District, but in Melbourne, for a short time what had been a grey dull day was transformed into light.  Shortly afterwards the temperature dropped and the pool froze over.  The little egrets, red crested pochards and goosanders disappeared in disgust.  The seagulls skated prettily on the ice.  Then overnight the temperature rose and the pool transformed itself again.  The ice turned to clear glass and then dissolved into water and every imaginable bird on the pool came out to shake their feathers and swim crazily around, laughing and quacking as they went.  Little transformations which in our usual busy lives we either don’t see or are of little matter.

In the churches year and our gospel readings, the baby has been born, shepherds have headed back to the fields, wize-men have taken a detour home, and in the last 2 weeks we have been fast forwarded 30 years to the Baptism of Christ and the calling of the first disciples.  Today in John’s Gospel, we head, with Jesus, the disciples and Mary, in our best clothes, to a wedding at Cana.  I have been to Cana and stood where they believed the wedding took place. It’s quite surreal! (and I have a little pottery water jar from there to remind me of that time) But this little story, told by John, is told on 2 levels because John’s Gospel is not an historical account but a theological account.

On one level we have the excitement of a Jewish wedding and a room packed with guests including the disciples, Mary and Jesus. Then the wine ran out! Mary is aghast and wants Jesus to do something about it. Just what she was expecting him to do is hard to imagine.  Nip off the Tesco’s perhaps!  But after a little irritation Jesus asks that the servants fill the 6 stone water jars with water and then to draw some out and taste it.  The servants do as they are requested and when the steward tasted the water it had become the best wine, in fact far better wine that that the guests had drunk first.  Water had been transformed by Jesus into wine.  This was the first of the miracles of Jesus and the newly gathered disciples looked on and believed in him.

But there is a deeper level to this story.  The water jars were not any old water jars. They were specifically used for the Jewish ritual of purification.  It would be completely unacceptable for these to be used for anything else. You would expect the servants to kick up a fuss, but they don’t, so these are the vessels used to contain the water which was to become wine.  Much later in the Gospels we come across Jesus again bringing our attention to wine.  This time he is holding a cup of wine and saying “This is my blood which is shed for you” .  This is followed afterwards by the shedding of that same blood on the cross and the death and resurrection.  So, jars for the Jewish cleansing ritual become the vessels where the water was transformed into wine, and this then become the springboard for another miracle -   the cleansing and transformation that is offered to us all by the shedding of Jesus’s blood on the cross and resurrection. An action we bring to mind in the Christian ritual of bread and wine at Holy Communion.

The Covid crisis has brought out the best and sometimes the worst in people.  It is fraught with anxiety and grief – and yet it has given us time and space to see nature just carry on and get on with its job and transform the natural world time and time again.  In the next few weeks as time drags by until we can safely go out and be with others again maybe we could do two things.  First, be attentive to the transformation that is all around us, especially as the seasons turn and winter is transformed into spring, and just sit back and delight in it. Secondly to draw close to Jesus. To offer him our lives one more, that he might transform us again and again.  Transform us into people through whom the light of Christ can shine out to help transform the broken, divided and grieving world that  surrounds us. Amen.

 

We read or sing our 4th hymn.

Make me a channel of Your peace.

Where there is hatred let me bring Your love;

Where there is injury, Your pardon, Lord;

And where there’s doubt, true faith in You.

 

Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved and to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of Your peace.

Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope;

Where there is darkness, only light;

And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

 

    Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek…….

 

Make me a channel of Your peace.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

In giving to all men that we receive,

And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Copyright © 1967 Sebastian Temple/

OCP Publications/Adm. by Calamus

Intercessions :

Let us pray.

As children of the kingdom let us make our prayers to the eternal God who loves us.

Heavenly Father, we pray for the world as it continues to grapple with the Covid pandemic.  We give thanks, and pray for our medical profession and all those who work in the scientific world of medicine.  Through their efforts we pray that that the world may be vaccinated and we can hope for a return to some sort of normality.  We pray to for those countries of the world where war and civil unrest are prevalent.  At this time we hold out to you the United States of America and pray for the safety and professional governance of President Biden. Under his leadership may the people find peace after a traumatic and divisive election.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray for our own country as we continue to grapple with Covid.  We pray to for those who livelihoods depend on our export and import trade and ask that after the recent exit from the EU, customs procedures will become clearer and transport able to move freely again.  As this country moves out of winter and towards spring we pray for our farmers and all who work on the land, land which is becoming waterlogged as it continues to rain.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father we pray for those whose eyes are wet with the tears of illness.  Those who are afraid to go to sleep at night and those who are afraid to wake up in the morning and face another day.  Especially all those of all ages for whom this lockdown is damaging mental health, and those whose physical needs are not being met as our hospitals struggle.  In a moment of silence we  hold out to you all those whose names are written on our hearts……..

Lord in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, we pray for those who have recently lost their loved ones, and those who have  crossed the threshold of death and into your closer present,  especially…………….  May the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in glory.

And a prayer for the week of prayer for Christian Unity.

Holy Spirit, you create and re-create the Church in all places. Come and whisper in our hearts the prayer which Jesus addressed to his Father on the eve of his passion: “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe”.

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, light the fire of your love in us so that suspicions and misunderstanding cease in the Church. May the walls that separate us fall.

Holy Spirit, Consoler of all, open our hearts to forgiveness and reconciliation and bring us back to you when we lose our way.

Lord Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, give us poverty of spirit so that we may be open to your grace.

Thank you. Amen.

 

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

We read or sing our final hymn:

Great is thy faithfulness,

O God, my Father,

there is no shadow

of turning with thee:

thou changest not,

thy compassions, they fail not;

as thou hast been

thou forever wilt be.

 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning

new mercies I see;

all I have needed

thy hand hath provided,

great is thy faithfulness,

Lord unto me!

Summer and winter,

and springtime and harvest,

sun, moon and stars

in their courses above,

join with all nature

in manifold witness

to thy great faithfulness,

mercy and love.

 

Great is thy faithfulness!….

 

Pardon for sin

and a peace the endureth,

thine own dear presence,

to cheer and to guide;

strength for today

and bright hope for tomorrow,

blessing all mine

with ten thousand beside!

 

Great is thy faithfulness!…

Let us pray:

(The Collect)

Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles, the wonder of your saving presence;  renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And so we say to each other across the homes of Melbourne and beyond:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

May the rain fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand. AMEN

 

Thank you for taking part in this service. God bless you all and keep you safe and well.

 

CCL 257405.  Hymns from Mission Praise except where stated.

Confession : Anglican Hymns Old and New, Common Worship Collect.

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