Third Sunday of Epiphany - this week's readings, reflections and thoughts
Sunday 24th January 2021
Third Sunday of Epiphany
God of all mercy, your Son proclaimed good news to the poor; release to the captives and freedom to the oppressed: anoint us with your Holy Spirit and set all you people free to praise you in Christ our Lord.
John Chapter 2 verses 1-11. (The wedding at Cana)
The wedding we hear about in John's Gospel must have been a grand and also a rather colourful event. The wedding Jesus, his family and his disciples attend would have had a large number of thirsty guests, and as it turned out, those who had organised this celebration had seriously underestimated either their number or their thirst.
As a miracle story the Wedding of Cana is fairly unique in the New Testament. Not because the gospels were overall lacking in accounts depicting miraculous events. On the contrary, they are of course full of them. Yet practically all other miracles Jesus is said to have worked somehow seem to be more directly related to his ministry. When John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask whether Jesus is the promised Messiah, they receive this answer: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them." Jesus' message, the gospel he preaches is that the Kingdom of God has come, and we can easily see how the things Jesus is said to have done are symbolic of this situation ‐ the overcoming of illness, suffering, pain, and bereavement, but also the replacement of fear and insecurity by trust and confidence in the nearness and in the loving support of God.
While one may argue that abundance of wine at a wedding feast is also a welcome and indeed very attractive prospect, this nonetheless seems a far cry from the dire need addressed by most of Jesusí actions ‐ even the multiplying of bread and fish to feed five thousand who otherwise would have had nothing appears in an altogether different category.
By comparison, our story can seem almost trivial ‐ it would be difficult to imagine it added to the catalogue of miracles Jesus reports to John's disciples. Ultimately, Jesus' action at the wedding of Cana seems designed to prove essentially just one point ‐ that Jesus was able to transgress the laws of nature. Accordingly, the story ends by pointing out that this was the first 'sign' he produced to reveal his 'glory'.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
I am writing this message to you because, as you know, it has been decided to suspend services in the church for the next four weeks. The virus infection rate is increasing on the island and we all have to take extreme care to prevent its spread.
This situation combined with the recent inclement weather and in some places flooding and land slides is causing extreme mental anxiety and anguish among a lot of people in Madeira. At such times as these, Scripture can provide words of reassurance: -
1 Corinthians 10:13
No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
I pray that by God's grace you may remain strong during these exceedingly difficult times.
With my love and prayers,