Sunday 17th

SERMON 1

 

9.45am    Morning Prayer       Epiphany 2       Preacher - Fran Powis                  

1 Corinthians 12 verses 1—11                                 

John 2 verses 1—11


Opening Prayer.

 

I have had to increase the size of the font I have used for printing this sermon, I am having a cataract removed on Thursday, this has grown quickly following the treatment I received last year for a torn retina. This may work to your benefit as this sermon is shorter due to the font size. I could have used more pages but I thought I would be kind this morning, to you and myself, as I am experiencing some difficulty in seeing the screen of my lap-top!

Have you heard the joke, ‘Give God a laugh, tell him your plans’?

To some people this may sound as though God can be vindictive, by destroying all that we work towards; to others this is allowing God the opportunity to alter our plans to something that may benefit us better, in the long run. A verse I need to refer to quite often is from Jeremiah 29: 11, ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I rely on this verse, a lot.

God has a sense of humour, I do not believe him to be vindictive under any circumstances. When Jesus tells the rich young man to give all his wealth away and then follow him, Jesus explains to the disciples that it is ‘easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’. Matt19:24

Verse 25 says, ‘When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Can you picture the scene? The disciples sitting there with their mouths open, trying to visualise a camel passing through the eye of a needle. After a moment the penny drops and someone slaps their thigh and in true pantomime fashion says, “Oh, good one Jesus! That’s a very funny example of something impossible, a camel trying to get through the eye of a needle, very funny, Ha! Ha!”

How much more astonished must the servants at the wedding in Cana have felt when they realised the wine was running out? Were they embarrassed on behalf of their Master? How could this have happened? All the planning that goes into a wedding, the celebrations of which can last for a few days, many people are invited and the catering needs to be generous, and now the wine is running out.

We don’t know why Jesus and Mary have been invited to the wedding, whether they are relatives, if so why have the disciples also been invited. For some reason Mary is aware of the wine supply running low, could she have friends amongst the servants? For whatever reason Mary is aware and mentions it to Jesus who asks ‘why do you involve me?’, in another version of the Bible, Abundant Life, The New Living Translation says, ‘Dear woman, that’s not our problem.’

Mary in true Jewish mother mode says to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’. Mary has complete trust in Jesus’ ability to do something, she may not have any idea of what he can do but she knows he will have a solution to the problem.

This is Jesus’ first recorded miracle, he is amongst friends who have a problem, Jesus shows his love and concern for his friend’s reputation and so he turns the water in the washing-water jars into good wine, so good that the master of the banquet compliments the bridegroom on saving the best wine until last.

People look everywhere but to God for excitement and meaning. For some reason, they expect God to be dull and lifeless. Just as the wine that Jesus made was the best , so life in him is better than life on our own. Why wait until everything else runs out before trying God? Why save the best till last?

This week we have attended three funerals, some of you may have been at one or two of them. On Tuesday we went to South Wales for a family funeral that went directly to an old chapel converted to a crematorium. We were able to say our good-byes in a traditional building that had quite a lot of character and warmth even though the service was only twenty minutes long.

On Thursday we went to John the Baptist, Hammerwich where a burial took place before the service of thanksgiving in church, this was different again with no coffin to focus our attention on.

On Friday at Farewell the funeral took place after the coffin was welcomed into church the evening before, the church was full and the singing joyful as many remembered a life given to God’s service.

Funeral services can be a wonderful opportunity for mission and evangelism, for sharing God’s good grace with those who attend, who may not be regular attenders of church services. We can use the occasion to imitate Jesus in social action and love for our neighbours, and so work towards building the kingdom of God on earth.

As we meet people and spread the Good News of who Jesus is and what he said and did, until all people in the world know him and what he did for us, let us take the time to think of the task which faces us, and every Christian: that of evangelism.

One way is to study the Bible, with the help of study notes, so that we can become familiar with God’s Word and so be prepared to share it with those who ask us questions and seek further knowledge.

Are those of you who have had a copy of Sacred, ‘Simply a Chapter Read Each Day’ enjoying it and keeping up to date? Are you learning from it? Good! I am finding it very interesting and wish you weren’t reading it also so that I could crib some of it to enhance my sermons!!

We don’t want to get the evangelism that we are called to mixed up with some of the political, evangelical ideas that can come from abroad.

We need good evangelism which comes from loving Jesus and following his way of caring for, and helping those who love him, to know him better, day by day.

We heard in our Epistle Reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 12; 1—12 of the Spiritual gifts we are all endowed with. Gifts that are given by the Holy Spirit to each person, they are special abilities that are to be used to minister to the needs of the  body of believers, fellow followers of Christ . This is not a definitive list, there are slightly different lists in Romans, Ephesians and 1 Peter, for example.

There are many gifts, people have different gifts, some have more than one gift, no gift is superior, neither is one person superior to another. The purpose of the gifts is to build up the body of Christ’s church.

The gifts listed here are, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues.

One gift that is easily recognisable in our church is that of generosity, you only have to look at our Food Bank Box and Pathway Project Box to see how that gift is demonstrated.

Some of these gifts are seen more often than others, some are more recognisable than others, some gifts need to be practised in order to make them more effective. We are responsible to use and sharpen our gifts, but we can take no credit for the gifts we may have, and those gifts are to be used for the good of others.

Studying the Bible and learning more of God’s ways will lead us into recognising and using our gifts for the good of others as Jesus taught during his time on earth. Look back to our gospel reading and Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine for the sake of his friends, at a social event, and done quietly so that only the servants knew what had happened, ‘even though his time had not yet come’, Jesus did this for love.

Can we do any less?

Amen.

 

 

 

SERMON 2

 

Evening Holy Communion         Epiphany 2           Preacher:-  Rev. Lynn McKeon

 

Ephesians 4:1-16

John 1: 29-42    

Opening Prayer

 

How important is unity in our individual lives? How important is unity in our church? Jesus had a lot to say about the importance of unity. If Christians cannot be unified, then we are not approaching one another in love. And we cannot be a good witness for Christ if we are bickering with one another.                    

The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the church in Colossi; “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.                                                                                            

Christians may belong to different churches, contemporary and traditional, denominational or non-denominational, but we all belong to the Lord and to one another. We are to love one another which is the perfect bond of unity.

The disciples had often exhibited a spirit of selfishness, competition and disunity, and this must have broken the heart of Jesus. I wonder how He feels when He sees the condition of the church today.                                                                             

Church unity?  Unity amongst Christians. God’s Word tells us just how important this is. God loved each of us before the foundation of the world, before even the world was created!                                                                             

Thomas Brooke, a puritan preacher wrote; “Discord and division become not Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous.”                                                   

What is the basis for Christian unity? The person and work of Jesus Christ. He has already given His glory to us, and He promises that we will further  experience that glory when we get to Heaven. All true believers have God’s glory within, no matter what they may look like on the outside. Christian harmony is not based on the external, but the internal. The very Spirit of God within us.                                                                                              

One of the things that most impresses the world is the way Christians love each other and live together in harmony. But I have to say that the world also thrives on just the opposite. When there is disunity in the Christian church, when believers act like everyone else, relying on our human nature rather than the spirit of God within us.

I believe we must rely on our Heavenly Father to keep us unified and focused on what is most important in life, a relationship with Jesus Christ and bringing  others to a relationship through our words, and our actions. Total reliance on God, not on ourselves.                                                                                                    

I’d like to share with you a true situation of reliance in the form of a Father and son. Their names are Dick and Rick Hoyt and they are known as Team Hoyt. Google Team Hoyt and you can read more about this amazing Father and son team. Do you know what they do? They race. They race a lot. Team Hoyt has completed sixty-four marathons, two hundred and six triathlons. Six triathlons at Ironman distance. Two hundred and four 10K runs. Since 1975 they’ve crossed nearly a thousand finish lines. They’ve even crossed the USA. It took them forty-five days to run and pedal 3,735 miles, but they did it. Team Hoyt loves races. But only half of Team Hoyt can run. Dick, the Dad can. But Rick’s legs don’t work, nor does his speech. At his birth in 1962, the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, starving oxygen from his brain, stealing coordination from his body. Doctors gave no hope for his development.                                              

Dick and his wife Judy disagreed with the prognosis. Rick couldn’t bathe, dress or feed himself, but he could think. They knew he was bright. So they enrolled him in a public school. He graduated. He entered college and graduated again.

But Rick wanted to run. At age fifteen he asked his Dad if they could enter a five mile charity race. Dick was not a runner, but he was a Father, so he loaded his son in a three-wheeled wheelchair, and off they went. They haven’t stopped since.                                                                                                                                     

Young Rick Hoyt relies on his Dad to do it all; lift him, push him, pedal him and tow him. Other than a willing heart, he makes no contribution to the effort. Rick depends entirely on the strength of his Dad. It should be the same for us. Total reliance on our Heavenly Father in all aspects of our lives, especially as the unified Body of Christ.”                                                                                                   

Do you have an extra twelve minutes this week? If you think about it, you probably have an extra twelve minutes this evening if you set aside time! I just need twelve minutes this week. Two minutes a day for the next six days. Two minutes to set aside time to pray for someone specifically in need. Someone who needs our help and our encouragement. Someone that God puts on your heart. You’ll know who they are. Their name will be revealed to you throughout the day. Just two minutes.

I’m going to finish by repeating what I said earlier. I believe we must rely on our Heavenly Father to keep us unified and focused on what is most important in life, a relationship with Jesus Christ and bringing others to a relationship through our words, and our actions. Total reliance on God, not on ourselves.

Amen.