Read-along service for Sunday, January 16, 2022

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
January 16, 2022 – Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Prelude

Words of welcome, announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle

In this season of Light, we light this candle to remind us of God’s light that shines even in the darkness.  May this light of hope, peace, and justice shine for all the world to see. May this light bless our homes and our journey in the difficult days that lie ahead.

Call To worship

No matter how far we wander from you, O God, your steadfast love finds us. No matter how unjust the world seems to us, O God, your steadfast righteousness sustains us. No matter how vulnerable our lives seem to us, O God, your steadfast presence gives us hope. No matter how uncared for we feel, O God, you hear our cries and answer our prayers. So come, let us join our hearts as one as we open our lives to the gift of God’s steadfast love.

Prayer of Approach

Gracious and loving God, you are the source of all wholeness, forgiveness, and mercy. May your Spirit heal those who are torn, mend those who are broken, and protect those who are fragile. God of all good gifts, We thank you and praise you, for your Spirit has touched our lives, bringing wisdom, ability, strength, courage, and passion. Enable us to use our gifts in service to you and to others, so we might share the gift of your light and love. Amen.

Hymn         We Parise You, O God                                       VU 218

  1. We praise you, O God, our Redeemer, Creator;
    In grateful devotion our tribute we bring.
    We lay it before you; we kneel and adore you;
    we bless your holy name, glad praises we sing.
  1. We worship you, God of our mothers and fathers,
    through trial and tempest, compassion and guide.
    When perils o’ertake us, you will not forsake us,
    but faithful to your promise, you walk by our side.
  1. With voices united our praises we offer
    and gladly our songs of thanksgiving we raise.
    Our sins now confessing, we pray for your blessing,
    to you, our great Redeemer, forever be praise!

Scriptures:      1st Corinthians 12:1-11      John 2:1-11

Hymn         Eternal, Unchanging We Sing                           VU 223

  1. Eternal, Unchanging, we sing to your praise;
    your mercies are endless, and righteous your ways;
    your servants proclaim the renown of your name
    who rules over all and is ever the same.
  1. Again we rejoice in the world you have made,
    your mighty creation in beauty arrayed,
    we thank you for life, and we praise you for joy,
    for love and for hope that no power can destroy.
  1. We praise you for Jesus, our Master and Lord,
    The might of his Spirit, the truth of his word,
    his comfort in sorrow, his patience in pain,
    the faith sure and steadfast that Jesus shall reign.

Homily “The Mystery of Cana Wine”

Musical Response

The offering

We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA during these challenging times. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us. As so many of our traditional fundraisers have had to be put on hold, your donations are vitally important. You can get more information about making a donation by contacting the church office or by visiting our website. For all the gifts you share, for all the people you bless by your serving and giving as a disciple of Jesus, we give thanks.

Hymn  In the Darkness Shines the Splendour                    VU 92

  1. In the darkness shines the splendour
    of the Word who took our flesh,
    welcoming, in love’s surrender,
    death’s dark shadow at his crèche.
    Bearing every human story,
    Word made flesh reveals his glory.
  2. Light of nations, veiled in history,
    born of woman’s flesh and blood,
    calling to the depths of mystery
    restless hearts that seek the good.
    Healing every human story,
    Word made flesh reveals his glory.
  1. Broken bread, sustaining us in sorrow,
    wine poured out to toast our joy;
    exodus and new tomorrow,
    life’s full promise to enjoy!
    Gladdening every human story,
    Word made flesh reveals his glory.
  1. All God’s people, sing in jubilation
    of the birth that sets us free,
    telling of the revelation:
    Jesus, God’s epiphany.
    Celebrate the human story!
    Word made flesh reveals our glory.

Pastoral Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn        Great Is Thy Faithfulness                                            VU 288

  1. Great is thy faithfulness, God our Creator;
    there is no shadow of turning with thee;
    thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
    as thou has been thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:     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, ever to me!

  1. 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.         Refrain
  1. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
    thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
    strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow –
    wondrous the portion thy blessings provide.    Refrain

Benediction

May the peace of Christ go with you, wherever you may go.
May God guide you through times of trouble
and protect you through all the storms of life.
May the Holy Spirit fill your heart with joy
with all the wondrous things that will be revealed to you.
May the light of God’s presence give you courage for the living of these days. Amen.

Postlude

“Cana Wine” Text: John 2:1-11.  January 16, 2022
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, Renfrew.

When I was a child, I had a hard time reading the Bible. I would read a story like the wedding in Cana, and immediately a hundred questions came to mind. All of those questions would begin with the words like ‘how’?  My Sunday School teachers did not appreciate these questions, because they could rarely offer an answer other than the generic ‘It’s a mystery’.  Over time I learned there are no answers to the question of ‘how did he do it?’. Once I learned the authors of the Bible speak in the language of myth and metaphor that made me realize they do tell us why he did it.

The language we use to talk about God is full of mystery because these are not factual historical news reports. Myths seek to teach us the deeper truths about life itself. Every description we have for God is a metaphor. Metaphors and myths are hard things for us to work with these days, because we are so grounded in our scientific worldview. But it wasn’t that long ago that we had a much different way of looking at the world. When John Labatt, the founder of Labatt’s Breweries, became a Certified Brew Master, he was given a certificate which stated he had been “initiated into the art and mystery of brewing.” If you see the size of one of John Labatt’s breweries today, you would say they have more to do with science and industry rather than art or mystery. But this current industrial approach to brewing is but a very recent change in the thirteen thousand years old practice of fermenting alcohol. It has only been in the last two hundred and fifty years that we have learned to control the yeasts which are at the heart of the fermentation process. Before we learned how to culture the desired strains of yeast, we had to rely upon the wild yeasts which blew on the breezes. Back then a good batch of wine was as much a product of luck, as it was a matter of skill. To have a good batch of wine was considered a gift from God. There was no other way for them to explain it.

Now it is one thing to understand how wine is made, and how people understood the making of wine back in Jesus’ day. But this modern scientific understanding won’t help us explain what happened in Cana when Jesus turns 120 gallons of water into wine. Because we are not supposed to be looking for a rational, scientific explanation of what happened in those stone jars.  What we should be looking for is a symbolic and spiritual message as a way to understand the significance of the event. So why is Jesus turning water into wine so important? Well for starters, Jesus does not use just any old water. He uses water which is reserved for religious purification. According to Jewish law, in order to have your sins forgiven, and to be acceptable to God, and be welcomed to the table, you had to wash with water which had been blessed and reserved for just this purpose.

Jesus comes to bring us a new way to relate to God, a way which is colourful, joyous and generous, like drinking wine with your family and friends at a wedding. He comes to heal us in body, mind and spirit, so we can be a whole person, who enjoys life in all its fullness.  In the old system of religious thought, the water represented staying free from contamination. Here it is changed into wine. It has become a metaphor for the abundant goodness of life, which is to be freely shared and celebrated.

The writers of the Bible compare the euphoria of wine with the euphoria of knowing God. They also do warn against drunkenness. Whether we drink or we don’t, we need to have a healthy and mature attitude towards alcohol. The abuse of alcohol can cause great evil and suffering.  For this reason our denomination encourages people to abstain from alcohol or to consume it moderation.

As every parent knows, it can be hard to teach someone what responsible moderation looks like. We need a healthy and mature understanding of alcohol, before we can fully appreciate the message contained in Bible, like in the story of the wedding feast at Cana. It offers us a vision of wholeness, of balance. It is a metaphor for knowing the fullness of God in a way that brings great joy.

I found that fine balance in one of the first hymns of the Christian church. It was written by St. Ambrose, back in the fourth century. After reading the story of the wedding feast at Cana, Ambrose wrote a hymn which includes these words“Laeti bibamus sobriam ebrietatem spiritus”. For those of us who don’t speak Latin, allow me to offer this translation. St. Ambrose is saying

“LET US JOYFULLY DRINK OF THE SOBER DRUNKENNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”

These days it would be very easy to take such words the wrong way, and be offended by them.  While they are very foreign to our understanding of religious experience, they are very true to what the Bible tells us about the spiritual life. In his letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul tells people in to not get drunk with wine, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit instead. He wants us to get high on God, and not on the wine. On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, the disciples start talking in tongues, but some people think they are just drunk. There are many times in both the Old and New Testaments where being filled with the Holy Spirit is compared to the euphoria of inebriation. Such verses offer us a glimpse of the joy we can find in God.  Such visions of God should not be frightening or intimidating for us. For Jesus comes to heal our broken bodies and our troubled minds.  He comes to restore our souls. He comes to bring us life in all its fullness. He gives us his Spirit so our lives might reflect this glory and this goodness. To be healed, to be made whole, to be united with God is something we all desire. We want to be in harmony with our family and live in peace with our neighbours. To be one with God can be as joyous an event as sharing in the wedding party of a loved one. This is why it is so important that Jesus’ first miracle is turning water into wine at a wedding. Weddings are an affirmation of the goodness of life. It is a celebration of a new life that is created when two people join their hearts together as one.

When people stand to toast the bride and groom at a Jewish wedding, they raise their glass and say “L’chaim”. TO LIFE! When Jesus turns water into wine, he is saying “Yes” to life.  The wedding at Cana is a metaphor for his whole ministry.

So how did Jesus turn 120 gallons of water into wine?  I wish I knew. That’s a crazy amount of wine. That wedding party must have gone on for days. Which leads me to the final question- Why did Jesus turn water into wine?  Why? Because Jesus wants you to taste God’s gift of life in abundance.  He wants you to live a life that is overflowing with joy. All you have to do is open your hands and your heart to God and it will be poured out for you. May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.  (Jude 1:2) Amen.

Announcements:

Bible Study:  Bible Study is on Wednesdays 11am, and will online only for this session until it is safe to attend in person. Please contact Rev. Murray or the church office to get the Zoom invitation. The Bible Study group is working on the Gospel of Luke, and we’ll be starting off at Luke 19:28, which is Palm Sunday. This group is open to anyone who wants to study the bible with us, it’s not just for TSA folks.

Offering Envelopes:  The 2022 offering envelopes are now available to be picked up. Please contact the office if you wish to pick up your envelopes, or have someone else pick them up for you.

2021 Tax Receipts:  The 2021 Tax Receipts will be issued in February.

2022 Church Calendars:  There are still some copies of the United Church of Canada calendars available, at a cost of $9.00 each. Please call the office at 613-432-2285 if you wish to purchase a copy.

 

 

 

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