His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” John 2:5
Last Sunday was such a very gentle day - our worship felt tender as we welcomed new members and as we prayed for baby Eric as he was baptised. It was delightful watching the children engaging with both the baptism and the new membership. It was so glorious being present for Amy's first baptism as a priest. It was so snug being indoors when outside was perishingly cold. It was heart-warming to join with friends in worshiping our good Father together both in person and on zoom. And then in the afternoon, stepping out into the snow was a beautiful reminder of how God delights in giving us beauty to wonder at.
And our deacon, David Griffin, preached such a thoughtful sermon on John 2 and Jesus' first miracle/sign: turning the water into wine at a local wedding. I asked David to send me the script of one of my favorite points from the sermon:
"As a brief aside, I want to make sure nobody misses the important role Jesus’ mother plays here. The author of this Gospel does not narrate the birth of Jesus, choosing instead to focus on Jesus’ identity as God’s eternal Word made flesh, a descent from heaven to earth. On the contrary, Jesus’ mother does not give birth and then disappear from the story, but rather she plays a decisive role in her Son’s mission. The Gospel of John has perhaps the strongest theology of God’s predetermined plan out of any New Testament book. But at the same time, because of John 2 we can truthfully acknowledge that, but for his mother’s initiative, Jesus would not have started performing marvelous signs at that time and in that place. That’s as lovely an example of why we pray as any I could think of."
But then David also sent a bonus thought or two....
Bonus material from David:
In John 2, Mary represents the intersection of two major themes from the Old Testament. First, she stands in the line of Abraham and Moses, who both interceded with God when He had determined to destroy Sodom and the wandering Israelites, respectively. Abraham negotiates down the number of righteous people that need to inhabit Sodom for the Lord to spare it (Genesis 18:22-33). Moses, for his part, appeals to Gods' reputation (Exodus 32:11-12) and reminds Him of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (32:13). The result is extraordinary: "And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people" (32:14). In both cases, Abraham and Moses serve as mediators between God and His people, and so prefigure Jesus Christ in his role as final Mediator between God and humanity. Second, that theme is intersected by the OT motif of women "outsiders" playing a pivotal role in Israel's history: Rahab, Jael, Ruth, and Esther come to mind. Each takes decisive action that brings about salvation (in the historical sense) for Israel. Mary makes a much more down-to-earth request than either Abraham or Moses; her successful pleading with her Son saves a wedding reception from dying down, which I hesitate to equate with the salvation of Israel. Even so, she coaxes Jesus into performing a great sign and thus sets in motion the rest of what He says and does in the Fourth Gospel. From a God's-eye perspective, the divine plan is unfolding according to plan. From the perspective of us mortals here below, Mary wins over a reluctant Jesus into doing something he was not inclined to do moments before.
This is, of course, exactly what Jesus Himself does for us: "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:2). When we pray boldly, particularly when we pray on the basis of God's zeal for His reputation of justice, mercy, and lovingkindness, and on the basis of His promises of old, we are playing our part in the divine drama. Are we actually changing God's mind? The God's-eye view says no. But that's not our view as we live it out. From where we stand, Mary demonstrates that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous woman availeth much.
What a great reminder of the value of prayer! Thank you, David for inspiring and encouraging us!
In other news:
PARENTS: be aware that from this coming Sunday atrium will start at 9.30am - read more here from Josie.
This Sunday please aim to stay for a very, very brief parish meeting after the service and an orientation to volunteering on Sundays at Randolph.
As always - Poppie and I would love to go for a walk with you! Or sit and drink tea and chat. LMK.
Your joyful pastor,