Water into Wine

Jesus, come! for we invite you,

Guest and Master, Friend and Lord;

now, as once at Cana’s wedding,

speak, and let us hear your word:

lead us through our need or doubting,

hope be born and joy restored…Amen

I’ve just quoted the first verse of  the 20TH CENTURY Epiphany hymn by Christopher Idle. I hadn’t come across it before.

The words seem so appropriate for today.

Of course they focus on today’s reading- the wedding at Cana, but the words, ‘lead us through our need or doubting, hope be born and joy restored’ speak to me while we struggle during the 3rd lockdown and the terrible weather and flooding many have been suffering around the country.

The words of the hymn continue:

Jesus, come! transform our pleasures,

guide us into paths unknown;

bring your gifts, command your servants,

let us trust in you alone:

though your hand may work in secret,

all shall see what you have done.

Jesus, come in new creation,

heaven brought near by power divine;

give your unexpected glory

changing water into wine:

rouse the faith of your disciples

come, our first and greatest sign!

Rouse the faith of your disciples – today we are all disciples together and as we reflect on this, Jesus first miracle, I pray our faith will also be roused and encouraged and hope revived.

Today we have All Age worship so I wanted to involve the youngest child and grandparents in the service. So I am recording this for all those who have chosen to stay at home during the lockdown and this very cold weather. The talk should also be available to download.


In church, I am asking the children to help me (socially distanced, of course,) to work out how much water Jesus really changed from water into finest quality wine. One bucketful? Two bucketsful? 10 bucketsful? No that’s the number of buckets needed for 1 water jar! So, 6 water jars is 60 buckets full of water changed into the best wine!

The final verse goes like this:

Jesus, come! surprise our dullness,

make us willing to receive

more than we can yet imagine,

all the best you have to give:

let us find your hidden riches,

taste your love, believe, and live!

Jesus come! Surprise our dullness.

Yes, I think many of us are finding our lives dull at present- staying at home, not able to visit one another, not able to shop til we drop, no live entertainment, no visits to the pub, no dining out, And in this weather, not much opportunity for walks on the moor, in fact stuck in doors to keep safe, but life can be  very dull.

I am sure life was pretty routine for the disciples too before they met Jesus. They hadn’t witnessed any healing miracles by the time they went to the wedding, only Mary at the wedding, knew of Jesus true nature and ability, so I wonder what was going through the disciples’ minds when they heard their rabbi order the 6 water jars to be filled up to the brim – bucketful after bucketful  of water. But by waiting and watching, Jesus revealed his glory to them, transforming what was about to become a very dull party, with nothing to drink… to the most amazing celebration imaginable.

I want to try to transform your thoughts even more.

My ‘dull’ mind was surprised and delighted in church 2 weeks ago whilst listening to Wendy’s PowerPoint presentation on the baptism of Christ – beginning with some facts about water: how many gallons of water are needed under natural conditions  to produce one slice of bread…11 gallons and so on….finally how much water is needed to water the vines in a vineyard (and so on) to produce, under natural conditions 1 gallon of wine…..she told us (and I believe her and the scientific calculation) 1008 gallons.

In the church on a freezing cold morning, I sat there amazed. Maybe I should have danced for joy, or shouted eureka! But that’s how it felt!

Why, you may ask? I’m afraid our minds can be quite dull and often incapable of believing that Nothing is Impossible for God and often theologians try to explain away the impossible, the supernatural, with a more natural, rational explanation.

I’ve heard this in the past: What Jesus was doing was ‘just speeding up the natural process.’

For example, the natural process of healing – like pressing the button on the remote to fast forward the movie – he speeds up the healing process. Similarly with the transformation of water into wine, he’s just speeding up the natural process of rain falling on the vines to produce grapes and then the fermentation process to produce wine.

During Wendy’s talk, I realised the nonsense of this argument – Those water jars contained a lot of water – each 20-30 gallons, but altogether only a maximum of 180 gallons! That’s nothing like 1008 gallons of water required under natural processes to produce just 1 gallon of wine, in fact it is just over a pints worth. 3 glasses of wine? That would have gone completely unnoticed at the wedding. Instead, Jesus transformed the dull, ordinary everyday water into the equivalent of at least 900 bottles of the best wine, demonstrating to the disciples how he is able to transform our dullness, giving us hope, and abundant life, both now,  and as we abide with him for ever.

Jesus, come! surprise our dullness,

make us willing to receive

more than we can yet imagine,

all the best you have to give:

let us find your hidden riches,

taste your love, believe, and live!


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