Sunday Notes 20th January 2019

Readings: Lectionary Year C, 3rd Sunday of Epiphany

Isaiah 62:1-5 Israel is the bride in whom God, the bridegroom, rejoices.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 The varied gifts of the Holy Spirit equip the church.
John 2:1-11 Jesus transforms water into the best wine at the wedding in Cana.

Wedding at Cana by Hardman of Birmingham in All Saints’ church, Milton.
The bride (left) is happily oblivious, the servant (right) is clearly confused, some other guests (behind) are perhaps beginning to catch on. The mirrored poses of Jesus and Mary radiate calm and confidence. Who catches your eye?

Some thoughts on the readings

• Often in the Bible, new names go along with new status – think of Abram becoming Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Jacob becoming Israel (Genesis 32:38), Simon becoming Peter (Mark 3:16) and so on. In Isaiah’s prophecy of restoration, the new names for God’s people are My Delight Is in Her, and Married – names of intimacy and protection.
• Paul begins his exposition of the Church as “the body of Christ” by listing some of the gifts which Christians are given by the Holy Spirit to build up the church. He gives other lists of gifts elsewhere (see below).
• John describes Jesus turning water to wine as “first of his signs”. Scholars vary as to which incidents in John’s Gospel they consider “signs”, but some are specifically named as such in the Gospel itself: healing the official’s son (4:46-54); feeding the 5000 (6:1-14); sight to the man born blind (9:1-16); and raising Lazarus from the dead (see 12:16).

Suggestions for further Bible reading

2 Kings 4:1-7 Elisha brings God’s miraculous provision to a widow as Elijah had done at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:10-16).
Ephesians 5:25-32 Paul writes of Christ relating to the Church as a husband ought ideally to relate to his wife. The idea is taken further in Revelation 19:6-10 – the marriage of the Lamb (Christ) to his bride, the church.
Romans 12:4-8 Another list of gifts given by God for building up the Body of Christ. This list is more practical, though there is some overlap.
What other Bible passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?

Points for Prayer

• Give thanks for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Give thanks that, as members of the Body of Christ, we are all of equal value in God’s sight.
• Ask God to reveal to us (and all Christians) what gifts the Holy Spirit is giving us, and to help us put them into practice in the service of the church. Pray that as we do so, God will grow the church, both local and universal.
• Pray for all who are marrying in our churches this year, and for all whose marriages are in difficulty. Ask God to strengthen these relationships.
• Pray for the UK and US governments: ask God to give them wisdom, and the grace to transcend personal preferences so they can govern for the good of all. Pray that those suffering in the current confusion will be helped.

Points for Action

• Think of what gifts your family, friends, and fellow congregation members might offer to the church: encourage them gently to do so.
• Make a note in your diary of the Lent Course: Tuesdays from 12th March at 7.30pm in Papworth Village Hall. More information very soon.