Third Sunday of Epiphany
Readings: Isaiah 62.1-5; Psalm 36.5-10; 1 Corinthians 12.1-11; John 2.1-11 (view all)
Well, 2018 has flown by, and we now find ourselves meeting for the first time as a Ministry Area family in the new year. We’re now into my second year as Ministry Area Leader, and the first has had plenty of ups and downs, lots of challenges, but also plenty to celebrate as well.
One of our big jobs over the last year has been to work together to create our new Ministry Area vision, which we discussed in our united services at St Teilo’s during the Spring and Summer, and then launched in the Autumn: To ‘grow God’s Kingdom for the good of our neighbours’ by nurturing faith, growing together and strengthening our communities.
So what would it look like to put this all into practice together? How can we each use our gifts to make this vision a reality?
In the words of Isaiah in our OT reading, God delights in us and longs to see us flourish as his people, using the gifts he has given us. As Christians, we use the word ‘Gifts’, because it recognises that all we are and have, all our skills, interests, experiences and passions, are all entrusted to us by our loving Heavenly Father. The responsibility is then ours to be good stewards of what we’ve been given, making the best use of it to serve God and others.
It may be that you’re thinking to yourself: ‘I don’t really have any gifts to be able to bring’ — this can be tempting, especially when we look around us and see lots of other people who, we think, are more talented, more confident and better experienced than us. But, as the apostle Paul writes in this morning’s NT reading, everyone has something to be able to contribute to the life of the Church, and there are a huge variety of gifts which are needed to enable the Church to grow and flourish:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.1 Corinthians 12.4-7
Some of our gifts may be practical — important skills or knowledge to help our Ministry Area to function day-to-day. But some of the most valuable gifts, which are often overlooked, are spiritual gifts which are expressions of the life of the Spirit in our lives.
It could be the gift of wisdom in making good decisions; or the ability and desire to pray for others, particularly for healing; or the ability to discern God’s voice and follow his guiding.
To some of us, the idea of these ‘spiritual gifts’ may seem a little intimidating at first, but we grow in confidence by using them and sharing them, and they are vital because they fan into flames God’s ability to work among us.
Our gifts are given us to use and share with others. When we fail to exercise them they become stale and sluggish, and their growth is stunted. But when we share them with others, and use them for the common good, we grow in confidence and our gifts are multiplied, not just in ourselves but also in others as they learn and benefit from us.
One way to think about our gifts, is in terms of different parts of the body:
Firstly, our heart: What are you passionate about? What gets you fired up? What are the things that bring you life and fulfilment?
Next, our head: What knowledge do you hold which could be useful? What interests and experience do you have, which could be used to help others?
And finally, our hands: What practical skills do you have? How could you make use of them, or teach them to others?
We may feel we have lots or only a little to offer. But just as in our gospel reading from the wedding at Cana, Jesus takes the jars of ordinary water offered by the servants, and turns the water into the most extravagant wine, so too he takes what we have — our passions, our knowledge, our skills — and uses them to bring extraordinary transformation by the power of his Spirit.
When we truly work together, sharing with one another and valuing each other’s contribution, we may well be amazed at the incredible good things that God is able to do among us!