Isaiah 62: 1-5; 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11; John 2: 1-11
Sermon given by:
The Right Reverend Monsignor Philip Moger
Dean of Leeds Roman Catholic Cathedral

Argus was a monster in Greek mythology (not to be confused with the retailer and catalogue of a similar name!) with 100 eyes. It’s said that only two of these eyes slept at any one time. So to be Argus-eyed, came to mean to be able to see a great deal, including what lay below the surface. When encountering John’s gospel it helps, not, perhaps to have 100 eyes, but at least to be able to see below the surface, if only because John uses the word ‘sign’ rather than miracle, and signs, as we know, don’t exist in their own right, but point beyond themselves.

Today’s gospel is often chosen for weddings, for obvious reasons. Thankfully, I’ve never been asked to render the same assistance at the reception! You can see why it fits in on this Sunday, so soon after Christmas. Along with the 6th January and the Baptism of the Lord, it’s also an epiphany, a manifestation of the power of God-in-Jesus.

Now the shadow of the cross is never very far from the crib. One of the gifts the wise men bring is myrrh, for Christ’s burial. The words of Jesus to his mother, My hour has not yet come looks forward to the time when it will have come – at the time of his passion.

So, the gospel of the wedding feast of Cana is to do with a marriage, but not just of a man and a woman, but also, and more significantly – under the surface, as it were – between heaven and earth.

We’re not given the name of the bride and groom. It isn’t that the gospel writer or Jesus couldn’t care less: Jesus’ and his mother’s and disciples’ presence at the wedding tell us that’s not true. No, it’s because we’re meant to understand that at this wedding, a greater marriage is being celebrated, that between God and his people. At Cana, God is shown as reaching out to us. The time of courtship over, God comes down to us in Jesus, embraces straying humanity and draws us into an intimate and deep union. The Word becomes flesh and lives among us. The prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled:
The Lord delights in you and your land shall be married

There is much for us to ponder here. We learn that when God gives, he gives without measure: no penny pinching, no hair splitting (nipping a currant in two, as my Grandma used to say). The quantities of wine produced amounted to 120 gallons! What is ordinary and used, in this case for a mundane purpose, is transformed into something wonderful. To run out of wine would have been a failure in hospitality and humiliating. But wine in abundance and in the joy of a wedding feast, a symbol of the age of the Messianic age. So the choice of a marriage as the occasion to give his first sign, is Jesus making quite clear that the Messiah is here.

Christians also see in this a looking forward to the sacraments, when the transforming power which was in Christ 2000 years ago, is available now, when we take what is ordinary, and the power of Christ transforms it.
Well, we may not have 100 eyes, we may even think the vision we do have is a bit skewed, but if we can see in this gospel, the utterly free and abundant love of God in Jesus and if, like the disciples we can have our faith deepened, then we shall not only have become believers, but be a sign to others of the riches of God’s love.

Sundays


Early Eucharist Service: 9.00am

This is a said service (approx 45 mins) in traditional language which takes place in the Holdsworth Chapel.  The service includes prayers of confession and praise, listening to the bible readings set for the day, hearing a sermon from the presiding minister, and sharing in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  The congregation use the Book of Common Prayer.



Main Eucharist Service: 10.30am

This is a traditional Eucharist service in modern language with accompaniment from organist and choir which takes place in the main body of the church (approx 1hr 30 mins). The service includes prayers of confession and praise, hearing God’s word spoken and sung, listening to a sermon, offering prayers of intercession for the church, the world and ourselves and sharing in the sacrament of the Eucharist. During term time there are also ‘Children’s Church’ sessions which follow the seasons and themes of the main service. Please go to the Children’s Church pages for further details. The congregation are provided with service booklets which contain seasonal material appropriate to the church’s year or to particular festivals being celebrated.


Evensong: 4.00pm

This is a quiet, contemplative service which is mostly sung and in traditional language (approx 50 mins). The presiding minister leads the service, singing the responses and prayers for the day. 

For full details of all services, and all other services and events, please go to the Home Page and select the ‘Events’ tab, then click on the day you are interested in. All special services will also appear in the Events highlighted on the page - click through the pages to find what you are looking for.

Other Sunday Evening Services

There are a range of other services happening throughout the year on Sunday evenings, such as the Advent Carol Service. Please go to the Home Page and select the ‘Events’ tabYou can change month by scrolling down to the bottom of each month and clicking on ‘Next Month’.

Weekdays

Morning Prayer: Monday-Friday at 9.00am

This is a short (approx 20 mins) spoken service, in modern language, which includes saying canticles of praise and psalms, listening to the bible readings set for the day, and saying prayers of intercessions for the church, the world and ourselves. These services may be led by the clergy team or lay people.

Daily Eucharist:  Monday-Friday at 12.30pm

This is a simple spoken service (approx 30 mins) in modern language, which includes prayers of confession and praise, listening to the bible readings set for the day, saying prayers of intercession and sharing in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Evening Prayer: Monday-Friday at 4.00pm

This is a short (approx 20 mins) spoken service, in modern language, which includes saying canticles of praise and psalms, listening to the bible readings set for the day, and saying prayers of intercessions for the church, the world and ourselves. These services may be led by the clergy team or lay assistants.

Public Sector Service: 3rd Wednesday of the month at 12:30pm

This service is intended for Christians in the public sector and all those in public service. We alternate between a Eucharist and a reflective service. Both take around 30 minutes and are followed by a free lunch - just enough time to get away from the busy-ness of the office for peace and prayer!

Our Christian Journey

Here at the Minster each year we have an “Initiation Sunday” on the first Sunday in November –  which is the culmination of several weeks of preparation by groups of all ages and backgrounds within the church.  The service acknowledges that whoever we are, whether our faith is new or old, deep or doubting, whether we are young or rich in experience, we need to mark the steps on our journey with God as individuals and as a community.  When we do this together we experience something powerful of God’s movement in the world through his church and through each of us, and we affirm our commitment to lifelong learning as Christians.

If you feel any of these journeys are right for you, please have a word with one of the clergy.

The service contains four elements:


Baptism:


Baptism comes directly from scripture. We know that Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist, and the letters written to the early church following the Gospels in the New Testament record whole families being baptized, adults and children together.  In scripture there is no mention of any other rite of passage associated with membership of the church – baptism was the only and full rite of passage. At the Minster we welcome all people to be baptised; infants, children and adults. (Wherever possible adults will go on to be confirmed on the same day).

While baptism marks the entry point into the church and the life of the worshipping community, we acknowledge too that faith is a process and not a one off event or experience. To become a disciple, means literally ‘one who learns’, and for the baptized it is a commitment to lifelong learning.  If you have joined our worshipping community or live within the area of the Minster’s parish you may be baptised here.  As part of baptism for you or your family you will be welcomed into the Minster community, you will be visited by a member of the clergy team, you will be invited to a rehearsal for your baptism service, and also invited back to future events at the Minster.  A baptism may take place as part of the Initiation service in November or on one of the other Sundays through the year set aside for this purpose. Please speak to any member of the clergy team for more information.

Initiation

Here at the Minster along with many other parishes in the Church of England, and some churches of other denominations, we have introduced Initiation – which is admission to communion before confirmation for children and young people between the ages of 7 and 16.  We recognise that biblically Jesus never made any pre-conditions to sharing in the Lord’s Supper, and neither did the early church. Many practitioners who work with children and young people are aware of the deep spirituality that some children possess, and that to receive the sacrament is more about an experience of Jesus rather than knowledge of God and of the Trinity.

A course of preparation begins each September to share teaching about Jesus, creation, the church, the Holy Trinity, prayer and commitment and of course the Eucharist itself with those wishing to be admitted to communion.  If you or a member of your family would like to take part in the course and be initiated into Holy Communion at the November service, please speak to a member of the clergy team.


Confirmation


Confirmation can be viewed in two ways – as an opportunity for individuals who were baptized as infants to make the promises made on their behalf for themselves, or as an opportunity for adults whose faith is new to them or newly deepened to affirm that step, and in each case for the gifts of the spirit to be evoked by the bishop upon them. At the Minster confirmation is encouraged for those over 16, following an appropriate course of preparation for both enquirers of the faith and for those who have already been admitted to communion before confirmation. Beginning in September each year and leading up to the November service, the course looks at the same subject areas as the initiation course for young people.  Historically confirmation has been seen as a passing out parade, the point after which young people’s attendance at church drops off.  At the Minster we encourage it to be viewed as another important step along the way, and a continuing of that commitment to lifelong learning and discipleship which begins when we come to faith in baptism.

Re-affirmation of Baptism Vows

This is an opportunity for those who may have been baptised or confirmed long ago – or who feel that in recent times their relationship with God has changed or deepened – to mark another step on their pilgrim journey.  Sometimes those who were confirmed as children relish the opportunity to take vows as adults which reflect their growth in faith and the developing relationship with God which has strengthened or been rediscovered in adulthood. These candidates also participate in a course of preparation, side by side with those adults preparing for Confirmation, which provides a great opportunity for the sharing of experience and inspiration. It is also inspiring for our young people to share in the willingness of those of all generations to affirm their faith side by side with them as they make their own declarations of faith.  It is a joyful, visible sign of God’s presence with all people at all stages of life.

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