Water into Wine: For the Common Good

This is today’s sermon. The readings it’s based on are: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and John 2:1-11.

This is currently a challenging time for my parish St. Philip’s. We are in a situation that the need to either close our doors, or entirely reconfigure our parish, within the next 18 or so months is a real, and active possibility. We have been taking a variety of steps to see what our future will look like.

Water into wine.
As far as I know this was created the usual way.

One of the steps is called Natural Church Development. Last Thursday, our Natural Church Development team met to discuss our action plan going forward. As we talking we came to understand that the Lectionary readings for this week really fit in well with the situation we are facing and the challenges that lie before us. As a result, this discussion very much informed the shape of the sermon this morning.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Spiritual Gifts

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

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.

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29 comments

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your church. We have had multiple churches close all over our city in the last decade and are ourselves an hour away from the church in which we hold actual membership. I keep looking at how people worshiped in Old Testament times as a point of encouragement. There were times of assembly, but home really was the basis of even the deepest of spiritual experiences. Blessings on your decisions!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you. I do sometimes think that home churches could work better. At the very least as a continuation of what people experience in larger gatherings, and also as preparation for larger gatherings.

      Like

      • I prefer small churches where you can get a chance to know everyone. Megachurches make me feel as if I am lost in the shuffle. My personal opinion is that Megachurches are mostly appetizer and dessert. I want the meat of the bible. God’s love is so big so intense. Lifting you up in prayer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your prayers. Unfortunately part of our problem is that we got to comfortable with each other and forgot to help others become part of us. We are friendly, but not good at integration of new people.

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  2. Praying for your church. Have a look at St George maple ridge in Canada. Our former curate is now vicar there and is really growing the church. Some of the things they are doing may give you some ideas.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great sermon. My mother had a trained soprano voice like an opera singer. Instead of going on the stage as a pro, she gave her voice to God in church (and for charity). This was a living witness to me growing up.
    Some things I see working for other churches:-

    *Have you considered buying a professional marketing consulting session or two? Churches aren’t that different from theatres and businesses in needing to get “bums on seats” or in through the door.

    *Putting weekly services on You Tube with the description and tags clearly stating what the theme is each week, for those at home that are studying the Bible, or looking for material on a theme, (eg sloth, or commitment).

    *put welcoming flyers in local realtors at the front counter, along with the plumbers and the electricians, to snaffle the new families to town

    * hiring a part time youth worker

    * hiring a small bus once a week to collect shut ins and bring them to church

    * visiting in homes more

    *having social groups/bible groups meeting in a cafe or pub each week, and advertise it in the local paper

    * having a morning/afternoon tea /Supper after every service, just nice china cups from the thrift shop, pretty tea pots, and cookies. Advertise this in the local paper too.

    * starting a food and clothing/toy pantry for the disadvantaged once a week /fortnight after a service, link in with local food businesses and national non profits for this.

    Cath

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for your comments. We are looking at a variety of things. Most important I hope we continue to be faithful and whether this parish closes or not, the people continue to serve faithfully no matter wherre they are.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed! The Word of the Lord will not return empty. And sometimes He works through it, in spite of editors and ourselves. 🙂

        (I have also enjoyed using the historic One Year Lectionary in my Lutheran circles. The bulk of it pre-dates the Reformation, at least back to the era of Charlemagne.) While it covers a smaller percentage in terms of quantity, it has great quality for catechesis!

        Liked by 2 people

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