Epiphany 2 (2022)

Sermon by By Reverend Matt Harbage

Isaiah 62.1-5
Psalm 36.5-10
1 Corinthians 12.1-11
John 2.1-11

Lord God, “I just want to be part of your Symphony”:

May I speak in your name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I wonder if you know the song, “Symphony” by Clean Bandit & Zara Larsson. It was number #1 in the pop charts a few years ago. It’s a moving song about a relationship, and I think, captures the heart of our scripture readings this morning.

So, if you’ll allow me, I want to play you the first minute of that song.

And as you listen, you might like to imagine the wedding celebration Jesus was at:

A wedding with song, and dance and lots of people.

A wedding, where the music & celebration almost stopped dead, as the wine ran out.

But Jesus, moving to his own beat and rhythm, demonstrates that God knows how to give Good Gifts:

And gives not just any wine – but the best wine, and over a hundred and twenty gallons of the stuff –a gift not just for the happy couple, but for the common good of the whole village as they share in the celebration.

What a picture of abundance and joy!

And can you imagine the disciples, looking on at this miracle, and realising that Jesus wanted them to be part of his great symphony?

Let’s play the music.

“I just want to be part of your symphony!” – That is the cry of my heart, as I think of Jesus and his invitation to discipleship: for us to follow him and play our part in what he is doing.

The Gospel tells us that after seeing this miracle the first disciples were blown away as they see Jesus’ glory revealed.

But there is something subtly important in this account of Jesus’ first miracle turning water into wine: Why did Jesus only reveal the miracle to a few of those present? He could have jumped up onto a table and transformed the water into the abundant wine before their eyes – declaring: “I am the Messiah!”

Surely that would have revealed his glory in an even more powerful way, and had everyone walking – or dancing – out the door with him?

Instead, Jesus chooses to invest personally in a small group of men and women.

Jesus was creating an orchestra. A group, who would learn from him what God’s rhythm sounds like, how to move, and think and live and play, and then this group might pass it on to others.

As we read through the New Testament and beyond, those first apostles eventually become the church which grew and blossomed, becoming a whole family of faithful communities across the world.

WE are the inheritors of those first believers. Founded in New Southgate almost 150 years ago.

Jesus’ orchestra isn’t just for a talented few. All are invited to join the party.

As Jesus himself told his disciples, before ascending into Heaven:

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

All nations. Every person.

We here have got an essential part to play in God’s symphony. God chooses not to do his mission without us.

Great music is made up of a variety of instruments, with a variety of sounds, dynamics and flow. Our diversity is our strength.

At home, I love worshipping with a wide array of different kinds of music. Not just hymns, but modern worship songs – and I find God speaking to me through secular music too.

I think God loves creativity, and loves diversity.

And so it is with our church. We are all called to play our part: in openness, diversity, and fun! In new initiatives and sustaining our patterns of worship and prayer.

Jesus has handed on the baton to us. He calls us to continue his song: bringing God glory, by spreading peace, love and justice to the earth: in our workplaces, family life and church life.

He calls us to draw people – everyone – into his kingdom ensemble, and share life together.

On this January morning, if you are feeling tired, like you’ve “run out of wine”, take a moment to turn with me to our Epistle reading and the words of St Paul.

Because St Paul tells us that Jesus has given us a whole array of Spiritual Gifts. We don’t have to go it alone:

“To each is given [gifts,] the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

The list Philip read for us includes the gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Prophecy, Miracles – and the list goes on.

Each of us here, Paul says, has been given gifts. Knowing most of you here today, I know personally that that is true. Some have the gift of faithful prayer, others the gift of practical service, still others the gift of thoughtful care.

We are invited to use our gifts to build up our community in harmony – in body, mind and soul – for the common good.

In fact, that term Paul uses: “the common good.”

Actually contains a Greek word:

sym-pher-ō                                       συμφέρω

Stay with me.                        sym-pher-ō is the word where we get our word “Symphony” from.

For Paul it means something like “to bring difference together for good”.

Isn’t that a powerful idea?

We are a church rooted in Jesus Christ.

We are made up of gifted, talented individuals who bring difference together for good.

So may we each discover the gifts we have been given,
May we praise God in our own special kind of harmony.

And may we grow together, celebrating that we are Part of God’s symphony.