Readings: Lectionary Year B, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
Genesis 14.17-20 Melchizedek, who is both priest and king, blesses Abram
Revelation 19.6-10 The marriage of Christ, the Lamb of God, to the Church
John 2.1-11 Jesus transforms water into wine at an earthly wedding
Wedding at Cana by Charles Eamer Kempe (1906) in St. James’, Croxton
The water jars depicted here are far too small! In the Gospel each holds 20-30 gallons. Does this image help to understand the abundant generosity of God?
Some thoughts on the readings
– Theologians talk of “ante-types”: figures or incidents in the Old Testament which gain new significance in the light of the New Testament. Melchizedek is one of the ante-types of Jesus (as are, for example, Moses and Elijah). The letter to the Hebrews explores this relationship in some detail (see below).
– Jesus’ transformation of ordinary water into the best wine is a model of how the ordinary ‘stuff’ of our selves and our lives can be transformed by God.
– The image of God as the bridegroom and God’s people as the bride appears in several places in Scripture. In our individualistic age it can sound strange, but the idea of that closeness between God and people is worth holding on to.
Suggestions for further Bible reading
Hebrews 6:20-7:3 Jesus fulfills the ‘ante-type’ of Melchizedek: King of righteousness, king of peace, and priest for ever.
Isaiah 62:1-5 A vision of Israel as the bride in whom God, the bridegroom rejoices. Paul picks up the same idea in Ephesians 5:25-32.
1 Kings 17:8-16 God provides miraculously for Elijah and the widow. As at Cana, a crisis becomes an opportunity to experience God’s power in creation.
Do any other Bible passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?
Points for Prayer
– Give thanks to God that God’s generosity exceeds our expectations
– Pray that the church – individual Christians and congregations – will discover the sense of being as special to God as a bride is to her bridegroom.
– Pray for all the couples who will marry in our team churches this year. Ask God to draw them closer to each other as they prepare for their wedding days.
Points for Action
– Generosity is part of how we live in God’s image: review your giving (to the church & elsewhere) and look to increase it. Schedule the same for next year.
– Congregations flourish when everyone is involved: consider carefully volunteering as churchwarden, lesson reader, prayer leader, or another role. Then contact a member of the ministry team to offer that service.