Sermon for 21st January 2018 Genesis 14:17-20; Revelation 19:6-10; John 2:1-11

Sermon for 21st January 2018

Genesis 14:17-20; Revelation 19:6-10; John 2:1-11

 

 

May I speak in the words of God; our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  Amen.

 

 

As you will know part of my role as priest is to also act as registrar for those getting married here - not only am I spiritual guide performing a sacrament (an outwardly visible sign of God) but I am the legal representative making sure that the couples are married by the law of the land.  On average we have the privilege of holding between 5 and 8 weddings every year in this church.  At the beginning of every service of marriage there is something called the ‘Preface’ which sets out for the couple and those who have gathered to witness the marriage the meaning behind their actions and what this ‘marriage’ thing is all about.

 

Apart from needing a theological degree to understand some of what is spoken at this point it uses some very beautiful language.  One example of this is the following: “The Bible teaches us that marriage is a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace, a holy mystery in which man and woman become one flesh. It is God’s purpose that, as husband and wife give themselves to each other in love throughout their lives, they shall be united in that love as Christ is united with his Church.”

 

I want to pick up on those words, “they shall be united in that love as Christ is united with his Church” this morning and link them to the reading we had from the book of Revelation.  The words we heard from Revelation in verse 7 read thus:  “Let us Sermon for 21st January 2018

 

Genesis 14:17-20; Revelation 19:6-10; John 2:1-11

rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready.”  Let me try to explain.  Jesus is the Lamb but in Christian doctrine he is also the bridegroom.  Remember for a moment the parable of the wise virgins with their lamps.  For unlike our weddings where the bridegroom waits nervously for the bride to arrive in all her glory the bride and her ladies wait for the bridegroom to arrive.  When he knocks on the door to call her forth then the wedding will begin - and what a wedding it will be.  Not 40 minutes in a church followed by a buffet and a disco but days of feasting and celebration, of drinking, eating, dancing and not only for the immediate guests but for all of the village or the town.  No-one will be left out of the wedding feast - everyone will receive enough.

 

Therefore, we, the church, are the bride in this scenario in Revelation.  We, the people, the body of Christ are waiting for the bridegroom, Jesus, to come back and knock at the door and lead us into the everlasting feast.  Not one that goes on for days but one that goes on for eternity.

 

The bridegroom will come in his own time, when he is ready but when he does then bridegroom will unite himself with bride and the two will be one.

 

The love of Christ - the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the bridegroom who returns for us - will unite us, who believe in his body and blood being broken and poured out for us and in that belief and moment we are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb.

 

Every wedding that has a reception or some kind of gathering is a foreshadowing then of what is to come - it is a gathering of the people who witness the event to celebrate the unification of two individuals who now become a new unit.  They lose nothing of themselves but join together and as the preface also says, “In marriage husband and wife belong to one another, and they begin a new life together in the community.”  Together they become a symbol to those around them of something new - to their work communities, their families, their friends and those communities in which they live.  

 

Whenever a couple come to see me to talk about getting married I tell them that however long they have been together and however many children they might already have together getting married means that their relationship will be different.  It really isn’t just a piece of paper - something intrinsic changes - something transforms in that moment.  The old is left behind and the new is brought to the fore.

 

Many couples will nod and say they know this but I will often press the point because I need them to understand fully what they are taking on.  I remember one couple in particular. They had been together for 29 years and were approaching their 30th anniversary.  They had children and grandchildren and had decided to finally get married to celebrate this 30th anniversary milestone.  I met with them as with any couple and we talked about the vows and what difference it would make to them.  It seemed there would be very little.  They had know what it was to experience life for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse - what more was there to learn?  What could possibly be different?  The service went well and off they went on honeymoon with their children and grandchildren.  I saw them when they got back and they’d had a wonderful time.  The next time I saw them was at the Carols by candlelight service and the bride said to me as she left ‘thanks for telling us it would be different when we got married because it really is and we wouldn’t have known.’

 

Marriage - the joining or uniting of two people or two entities into one comes at a cost and provides a new way of living life.

 

John places Jesus’ first miracle at a wedding precisely to illustrate this point (was it really his first miracle or is this John’s poetic license?). The bridegroom and the Lamb of God will provide something new by being the joint that brings the old and  the new together.  He was reluctant (woman what concern is that to you and to me? My time has not yet come) and did not want to be put on the spot but through the perseverance of his mother he finds himself taking the old - the six stone water jars for the jewish rites of purification - and bringing about the new - (when the steward tasted the water that had become wine, the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk.  But you have kept the good wine until now.’).

 

Something completely different is about to begin!  A relationship that was ages old with many children was going to change utterly.  No longer would the jars be used for purifying oneself for God - instead God would purify you himself in his blood outpoured on the cross and the wine which you taste to remember him.

 

It is no accident that Jesus the Lamb of God brings about wine in his first miracle and it is wine that he commands us to drink, in remembrance of him until he comes again in the last supper.  The bridegroom will return but until that time we are to drink the wine he has provided for us - his blood which cleanses us all.

 

In the changing of the water into wine there was no trick but only a revealing and therefore a showing of what was hidden of the new order.  Of a relationship that not even death could separate.  Of a relationship that meant we were cleansed not from the outside but from the inside.  Of a way of being that meant the bridegroom would come for you and I and knock on the door whenever he is ready to lead us to the marriage supper.

 

You and I are invited but are we ready?  Are we clothed with fine linen, bright and pure?

 

Actually the answer to that question is that even if you feel you are clothed in sackcloth and ashes if you have the invitation to the marriage supper of the lamb and you accept it then you are indeed clothed with fine linen, bright and pure.  The challenge now is to clothe others in fine linen and prepare them for the marriage feast.

 

Go and tell of the new thing that has taken place.

Go and show others that the wine we drink is the wine of unification of joy and of blessing.

Go and do something that will unite you with others in a common quest for justice, mercy or understanding.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

 

Amen.

 

 


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