Revd Andy's Sermon
Sunday 17th January 2021
I believe in miracles.
Where're you from, you sexy thing.
I believe in miracles.
Since you came along, you sexy thing.
Last week I started with a song, so why not again today! That was of course Hot Chocolate in 1975, but I wonder, do you believe in miracles? Miracles like Fulham surviving in the Premier League or the vaccine rollout being completed and life returning to normal by the spring? Or maybe today believing in miracles just seems a bit too hard, and I think that is particularly true with our Gospel reading this morning, John’s account of the miracle at the wedding in Cana. My heart goes out to all those couples who have had to cancel plans for their marriage in the last year and again this year and who must feel like their hopes and dreams have been shattered. I am sure they are thinking miracles are in short supply at the moment and when we feel like that maybe our cry is a bit like Mary’s cry “they have no wine.” We have no wine, and we feel like we need it to get through these times, as I have said before, are we going to come out of this latest lockdown as hunk, chunk or drunk?
The wedding at Cana is the first of Jesus’ signs or miracles in the Gospel according to John and in many ways, it feels very different to the other miracles. I am a great fan of William Barclay who wrote a timeless set of New Testament commentaries and I also have his book of ‘Insights’ on Jesus’s miracles. Yet the wedding at Cana isn’t in the book and I find that odd, because this is the first sign, the first miracle. Here is Jesus at a wedding and very obviously trying to have a good time with his Mum and his mates when disaster strikes, and the wine runs out, and at a wedding in those days that would have been catastrophically embarrassing for the host, well in any time really, most of us like a good wedding and ‘Knees up Mother Brown’. What I find so fascinating as I step back and view the scene at Cana in my head, is that Jesus is so passive. He doesn’t touch anything or anyone, he doesn’t bless anything, he doesn’t pray to God the Father, it is almost like he is a shadow in the scene and that fascinates me. The only way Jesus becomes involved with the physical elements of the water and wine is to tell the servants to fill up the jars with water. Why in this first miracle is Jesus almost understated?
I think this is because, this the first miracle is our miracle, the human miracle where, as the servants fill the jars, we humanity, through the actions of the servants are invited to share in Christ’s divinity. It is the prayer I and many priests pray as we place some water in the wine at communion – ‘by the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in Christ’s divinity, who humbled himself for our humanity’. If you like this first miracle invites us into the fullness of the incarnation, as God became human in Jesus, so humanity is invited into the glory of God. It is the human miracle where, as the servants take on board Mary’s words and do what Jesus says, they and we are given a glimpse into what it means to become fully human and our capacity to express the glory of God, as the water becomes wine.
Yet that human miracle is still happening each and every day, the miracles that express the glory of God and the power of Christ’s incarnation, the miracles that happen when the Holy Spirit moves people in acts of selfless love and kindness. Do you believe in miracles? Well, I believe in miracles every time I watch a news clip on the BBC that comes from an Intensive Care Unit and see nurses and doctors devoting every ounce of their being trying to save peoples’ lives in the midst of the carnage this virus is causing. I believe in miracles because you lovely people have given Roy and myself a substantial amount of money to buy some refurbished iPads, just like that, and through that love and kindness you have made sure that some of our most vulnerable children can now have some education. I believe in miracles every time we gather around this altar, because on this third day at Cana, with all its resonance of Easter we are invited to share in the resurrection as the water becomes wine and the wine becomes blood. That my dear friends is the greatest miracle we share in.
Do you believe in miracles? Well, I believe in miracles, since you came along, you sexy thing!
May it be so today and always.