Lord of the Feast

January 22, 2017 ()

Bible Text: John 2:1-11 |


Lord of the Feast | John 2:1-11
Brian Hedges | January 22, 2017

Welcome, once again. We’re thrilled to have you with us this morning. Turn in your Bibles to John, the second chapter. That’s where we’re going to be studying together. John chapter two, and this morning, we’re going to look at one of the untold stories of Jesus, or one of the lesser told stories of Jesus.

This is the first miracle that Jesus ever performed at the wedding of Cana in Galilee. And I’m just curious, if I could ask for a show of hands, how many of you have ever heard a sermon on this passage? Let me see your hand. That’s a few, maybe ten percent, fifteen percent, something like that. I was just reflecting that in twenty-plus years of preaching, I’ve only preached on this passage once. And in all of my years as a Christian, and I started going to church, you know, when I was minus nine months old, or minus (you know what I mean--that didn’t quite work the way I intended it to.) From the womb, from conception, I was going to church, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon on this, except what I’ve listened to that was recorded. So, it’s one of the lesser told stories of Jesus, and a very important story that has a lot to teach us this morning.

So, John chapter two, verses 1-11. Let’s read the text:

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

This is God’s Word.

This is really an interesting story. This is the first of Jesus’ miracles and just take a moment and note what it’s not. This is not a healing. He’s not healing someone born blind, as he does in John chapter nine. He’s not healing someone that’s lame. This isn’t a resurrection of someone from the dead, as he does with Lazarus, in John chapter eleven. This is not feeding the hungry. Feeding thousands of people as he does in John chapter six.

This is sparing a bride and a groom embarrassment at a wedding because the wine is run out. And it’s keeping a week-long celebration (as a Jewish wedding was) keeping the week-long celebration going, as Jesus, in a miracle of creation, turns water into wine. What in the world is going on here? Why does Jesus do this and what does it have to teach us?

And I would suggest that it has a number of things to teach us, about, not just about the miracle itself, but what the miracle points to; which is the reality of new creation. As we saw in John chapter one, the gospel of John begins by recalling the words of Genesis, “In the beginning.” But, in John chapter one, it’s “In the beginning was the Word,” and what follows then are echoes of new creation. As the divine word, the eternal word who created all things, has now become flesh and dwelt among us. And what he’s bringing is grace and truth. He’s bringing a revelation of his glory. He’s bringing new creation. And this first of Jesus’ miracles has a lot to teach us about that.

So, three things that I want you to see this morning. The sign of new creation; the fullness of new creation; and the cost of new creation. Three things.

I. The Sign of New Creation

So, first of all, the sign of new creation. And I’m drawing the word sign from verse eleven. This is the first of his signs. It’s a very important word that’s used some sixteen times in the gospel of John. The first of his signs and it’s telling us that it’s a sign of something. It’s a pointer. It’s not merely a miracle. It’s not merely a bare work. It’s a pointer to something else. But we need to look at the miracle itself before we can understand the significance of the sign. So, I want us to think here, under this first point, for just a few minutes about the miracle. And we could use the language of C.S. Lewis, it’s a miracle of the old creation. And then we’re going to look at how this miracle is also a parable, or a sign of new creation.

(1) So, first of all, just think about the miracle itself. And a very simple outline of this text is the occasion, verses 1- 2, which is the wedding itself. The occasion where Jesus is there. The problem was that they ran out of wine, of course and the solution is Jesus’ miracle in the rest of the text.

That’s pretty straightforward. That’s pretty easy to understand. But, what is it that he’s doing here? And C.S. Lewis, I think, is really helpful in this regard. This is from Lewis’ book, Miracles, and there’s a great chapter near the end of that book called, Miracles of the Old Creation, and I want you to hear what Lewis says about this miracle in particular:

This miracle proclaims that the God of all wine is present. The vine is one of the blessings sent by [Yahweh]: He is the reality behind the false god Bacchus. Every year, as part of the Natural order, God makes wine. He does so by creating a vegetable organism that can turn water, soil, and sunlight into a juice which will, under proper conditions, become wine. Thus, in a certain sense, He constantly turns water into wine… Once, and in one year only, God now incarnate, short circuits the process: makes wine in a moment: uses earthenware jars instead of vegetable fibers to hold the water. But uses them to do what He is always doing. The miracle consists in the short-cut; but the event to which it leads is the usual one. If the thing happened, then we know that what has come into Nature is no anti-Natural spirit, no God who loves tragedy and tears and fasting for their own sake (however much He may permit or demand them for special purposes) but the God of Israel who has through all these centuries given us wine to gladden the heart of man.

You see, the miracle proclaims right from the beginning that Jesus is the God of Israel; that he is the God of wine; that he is the Lord of the feast. He is the God who intends joy and celebration for his people and so his first miracle is one in which he continues this wedding celebration, by turning the water into wine.

(2) So, that’s the miracle just on the bare level of the text, the narrative itself. But, John tells us that it’s a sign. It’s a sign, so it means something more than just the miracle itself. It meant something that the disciples perceived that had to do with his glory, the manifestation of his glory, verse 11. So, think now for a moment about how this is a sign; or what F.F. Bruce calls a parable of the new creation. Let me give you a brief quotation from D.A. Carson, from his magnificent commentary on John. Carson says:

“Jesus’ miracles are never simply naked displays of power, still less neat conjuring tricks to impress the masses, but signs, significant displays of power that point beyond themselves to the deeper realities that could be perceived with the eyes of faith.”

So, that’s what’s going on here. So, what is it a sign of? That’s the big question. What is it a sign of? And I think to answer that, we have to think about how the rest of scripture speaks about wine. What are the associations in scripture with wine? And there’s a number of them. I’m going to give you just three.

(a) In scripture, wine is first of all, a source of joy and blessing. Louise alluded to this text, but now I’ll quote it. Psalm 104, verses 14 and 15: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”

That’s one of numerous texts that point to this reality, that just as God gives bread, God gives wine and he gives it for this purpose. He gives wine to gladden the heart of man. Wine is a source of God’s blessing, of God’s blessing, of God’s goodness. It’s a source of joy to gladden men’s hearts; and we see this pervasively in the Old Testament.

(b) But, it’s a sign of something more than that. Wine is also a sign of God’s Messianic kingdom. So, a lot of times you’ll see the prophets use language, such as we read this morning from Isaiah two, and Isaiah twenty-five. Here are the verses from Isaiah twenty-five, verses 6-8: “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,”

We know some of that language from the book of Revelation, of course. But, it’s a prophecy. It’s the eschatological hope of the Old Testament people as they look to God’s kingdom and the fullness of God’s kingdom which would come and would bring fullness and celebration and joy—a feast and well-aged wine. It’s a sign of this kingdom. And I think a part of what Jesus is doing here in this miracle is he’s showing that his kingdom is now here. His kingdom has arrived; He demonstrates that as he turns the water into wine.

(c) And then I think we can also say this—that wine is a symbol of the new covenant order. It’s a symbol of the new covenant order. You know that redemptive history could be divided into these two eras: old covenant and new covenant. Our Bibles are divided into Old Testament and New Testament. The Old Testament, the old covenant had to do with God’s purposes for his people of Israel in the Old Testament, as promises were made looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. But then Jesus has come and as he comes, he brings a new covenant. A new covenant. He brings the kingdom; the promises that have been made are now kept.

And we see indications of this in other places in Scripture. Here’s one: In Mark chapter two, the Pharisees, I believe it is, were very critical of Jesus because he didn’t practice fasting. John the Baptist practiced fasting; his disciples fasted. Jesus didn’t. Jesus’ disciples aren’t fasting and so they come and they ask this question, “Why are you not fasting?” And this is how Jesus answers. He says: “Can the wedding guest fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

Now, he’s using an illustration here. But, it’s an illustration of the newness of the new covenant, the newness of the kingdom of God and how it’s greater than the forms of the old covenant. And that’s why his practices are different than old covenant practices. That’s why his disciples are not fasting. There’s a joy here with the bridegroom who has come and it bursts the categories; it bursts the forms of the old covenant.

Now, there’s a subtle clue right here in the text. I don’t want you to miss this. Right here in John chapter two, that this is part of what’s going on. Because note in verse six, what Jesus chooses to use in order to turn water into wine. What does he choose to use? This is not merely a pragmatic decision, there’s significance here. Look at verse six: “Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.”

And I think the New Testament scholars and commentaries are right on when they say that these jars of purification represent the whole order of the Jewish ceremonial system and Jesus is replacing with something better. The water of purification of the old covenant gives way to the wine of the new covenant. The wine of the kingdom of God. The old is replaced by the new.

And in fact, this is the thread that runs right through John chapters one through four. The water of purification displaced by the wine of the kingdom. The temple, as we’ll see next week, the old temple displaced by Jesus who is the new temple of God. Old births, natural birth, insufficient. What is needed is a new birth as Jesus says in John chapter three. And then there is a contrast between the water of Jacob’s well and the living water that comes from Christ alone in John chapter four. And then the worship that takes place at Jerusalem, with worship that is in spirit and truth. There’s this theme of replacement; the old gives way to the new. You can write over all of John chapters one through four, this one verse, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

And that’s why this miracle is a sign, pointing to something greater. It’s pointing to the newness of creation, new creation. The newness of the kingdom of God, the newness of the new covenant. It’s a sign that God’s kingdom has arrived in Jesus.

II. The Fullness of New Creation

Okay, so that’s point number one, the sign of new creation. Now, think for just a few moments about the fullness of new creation. Perhaps you’ve already noted the fullness language that’s used in the gospel of John. We read in John chapter one, verse 14 that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Then in verse 16, “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Or in John chapter fifteen, verse 11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Or slightly different language, but the same point made in John chapter ten, verse 10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Well this first miracle is a sign that illustrates for us the fullness of the kingdom of God. Not only the newness of God’s kingdom but the fullness of the kingdom. And you see this in a couple of ways in the narrative details of the text. These only need to be pointed out, they don’t need much exposition.

(1) You see it, first of all, in the greater quantity of the wine. This is amazing in verses 6-8. These six stone water jars, the text tells us, each held twenty to thirty gallons. Now, do the math. You know how much wine that is? That’s a lot of wine! That’s somewhere from about a hundred and eight to a hundred and eighty gallons of wine. Incredible quantity. This just astounds some of the commentators that Jesus would create such a great quantity of wine. But that’s what he does.

(2) But then it’s not only the quantity, it’s the quality. It’s the quality. Look at verse 9-10: “When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom  and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

You know what this means? It means that Jesus made the best possible wine. That’s what it means. He made the best possible wine. But, it also is a pointer. That Jesus, in his kingdom, gives the best possible gifts. The best possible gifts. The wine is a sign of something more. I love the way Newton puts it in that old hymn: “Solid joys and lasting pleasures none but Zion’s children know.” He gives us abundance; he gives us fullness; he gives us the very, very best. And this is true, both on the physical level in this miracle and it’s true on the spiritual level.

Now, I think it’s appropriate for us to think for a few minutes, in some practical application kind of ways. This seemed the best place to put it in the sermon. I know that some of you are scratching your heads. You’re thinking about, “Okay, Jesus turning water into wine. I mean, what’s the application of that for us as Christians?” And there is application and there’s more in scripture that has to be thought about. So, I want us to think for a couple of minutes, about the true purpose of created goods, with wine standing in place for all the created goods.

What is the purpose of created goods, like food and wine and feasting and marriage? Well, on one level, they are goods to be enjoyed. God gives us these things as gifts. They are to be received with thankfulness; they are to be enjoyed for what they are. First Timothy four, verses 4 and 5, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” Or James one, verse 17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

But, listen, these goods are only received rightly when they are kept in their proper place as gifts coming from the generous hand of the giver, God himself, and pointing us ultimately back to him. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” So, we could paraphrase it. Set not your hope in wine, but in God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Or, set not your hope in food, or on prosperity, or on success, or on a wonderful family, or fill in the blank. Fill in the blank—whatever natural good it is that you tend to put your hope in—Paul tells us, “Don’t set your hope on that. Set your hope on the giver of the gifts.”

These gifts, in fact, are meant to help us worship. They are meant to lead us back to the giver himself. Our joy is not to terminate on the gifts, but we are to follow the gift up to the goodness of the giver, so that our joy terminates in him. Let me use Lewis once again. This is from his book, Letters to Malcolm: “One must learn to walk before one can run. So here. We . . . shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have “tasted and seen.” Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are “patches of Godlight” in the woods of our experience.”

And he goes onto say that we’ve got to chase the sunbeam back up to the sun. That’s what gifts like wine and food and marriage and riches and good jobs and heathy families—that’s what those gifts are—they are patches of God-light in the woods of our experience and we are meant to chase the sunbeam back up to the sun. That’s the intended function of the gifts; that’s their true purpose. These goods point us to the giver.

But, think for a minute, now (here’s the second application) about the right use of these created goods. So, we’ve looked at some of the positive associations that scripture makes with wine, such as joy and blessing; or the Messianic kingdom; or the new covenant. But, you know of course that there are very negative things that scripture has to say about the abuse of wine, or the abuse of alcohol. Drunkenness is condemned in multiple passages. Ephesians 5:18, ““And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” The language of 1 Corinthians 6, verse 10 is even stronger, warning that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus warns against drunkenness in Luke twenty-one, verse 34. The book of Proverbs is full of warnings against drunkenness. And especially warns against the disorienting, addictive and destructive consequences of those who tarry long over the wine. I could read to you from Proverbs 23, verses 29-35. To top it off, the Old Testament prophets frequently used drunkenness as a metaphor for God’s judgment and God’s curse on sinful human societies.

So, Jesus made wine. And make no mistake, this was fermented wine, although of a less strong variety than wine commonly is today because it was generally diluted with water in that day. But, it’s still an intoxicant. If that wasn’t so, then there wouldn’t be the warnings about drunkenness in so many places in scripture that speak about wine. Jesus makes wine; he makes an intoxicating beverage, but scripture is full of warnings about the abuse of it.

So, listen. I want this to be really clear: there are very good reasons to abstain from alcohol. If you’re underage, it’s against the law. If you have a personal or family history of alcohol abuse; if you are tempted to misuse, that is, to find comfort in alcohol rather than in Jesus; if it hurts another believer, that is, it tempts him or her to violate their conscience and to sin, those are all very good reasons to abstain.

This is what Paul essentially tells us in Romans chapter fourteen. He tells us that whether it’s meat or whether it’s wine or whether it’s a certain day, the thing itself is immaterial but how you use it—that’s very important. And you’re not to use it in such a way that will hurt other believers. First Corinthians ten, verse 31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

So, here’s the question. Here’s the question. We’re thinking here about the proper use of created gifts and especially wine, but you can apply this to anything. Here’s the question, “Can you drink to the glory of God? Can you drink without sinning? Drink without breaking the law? Drink without hurting other believers?” Then you may. Then you may. But, if you drink, you must not despise those who do not. And if you abstain, you must not judge those who do. That’s what Romans fourteen tells us—there’s a proper use. That’s what I’m wanting you to see here. There’s a proper use. There is also an improper use. There is an abuse.

Let those who drink never flaunt. Let those who abstain never judge. Above all, let us never use things indifferent, things that are immaterial in and of themselves, let us never use them in ways that hurt or harm other believers. And let us never elevate gift about giver so that we commit idolatry and fall into sin.

There’s a wonderful illustration in one of the Narnian stories. I don’t think I’ve used this one before. This takes place in Prince Caspian. It’s when Aslan is conspicuously absent for much of the story. The children have come to a Narnia that is sadly forgotten. The beauty and the magic and the joy of Aslan’s reign, the mythical creatures, the talking beasts are in hiding. The Telmarines reign instead, but when Aslan finally returns, it’s a celebration. He brings the beauty and the magic back with him; he restores joy to Narnia.

And it’s really interesting, that following Aslan comes Bacchus who was the mythical Roman god of wine. Here’s Aslan, and in his train is Bacchus, along with his tutor, Silenus, accompanied by a consort of centaurs and dryads and satyrs, who come in dancing wildly around the lion. The trees come to life, a river-god is awakened, the peoples of Narnia drink wine and feast sumptuously, the children escape boing and untrue history classes--wonder and joy have returned to Narnia! But, near the end of chapter eleven, Susan says something very, very telling. She says, “, “I wouldn’t have felt very safe with Bacchus and all his wild girls if we’d met them without Aslan.”

That’s exactly right. A created gift that can easily become an idol is unsafe, outside of the reign of Jesus. It must be under the Lordship of Christ. That’s the only way to properly use created goods. One more quote from Lewis, “No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy in themselves. They are all holy when God’s hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.”

So, we’ve looked now at the sign of new creation. We’ve looked at the fullness of new creation in this little detour and thinking about how to use these gifts appropriately. Part of the fullness in new creation is a fullness of joy and a fullness of liberty, but also a fullness of love in Christ that helps us then to use gifts properly.

III. The Cost of New Creation

Now, let’s end in this way. Let’s think for a few moments about the cost of new creation. Maybe you noticed verse 4, which I have not commented on up to this point. In verse 4, when Jesus’ mother has asked him to intervene to do something, she said, “They have no wine.” Did you notice how Jesus responds? “Woman, what does that have to do with me?” It almost looks rude, doesn’t it? It’s not rude. The word that he uses there might better be translated, “My lady, this has nothing to do with me.” But, he’s still putting some distance between the urgency of the situation and the purpose for which he came. He says, “What does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come. My hour has not yet come.”

(1) What is this hour? What is this hour? And when you trace this, this phrase through the gospel of John, it become really clear what the hour is. The hour is the hour of Christ’s exaltation through the cross. That’s the hour. That’s the hour for which he came.

So, John chapter seven, verse 30: “They were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.” It wasn’t time yet. Or John chapter eight, verse 20: “These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.” Or perhaps the fullest explanation, John chapter twelve, verse 27, Jesus prays: ““Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”  Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.  Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  Verse 33 clarifies exactly what he’s talking about, “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”

What’s the hour? It’s the hour of Jesus’ crucifixion. The hour where he will be lifted up in a two-fold sense. Lifted up, in that he’s exalted and lifted up as he hangs on the cross, so that it is through the cross that his exaltation takes place. You know what this is showing us? It’s showing us that the blessings of new creation—the fullness and the joy; the kingdom of God; the new covenant—all of these things we’ve looked at, they come to us only through the cross. That’s the cost. The cost of new creation is the cross of Jesus Christ.

(2) And we might here draw one more thought when we think about wine and we think about how wine is sometimes, in the Old Testament, compared to God’s judgment, or likened to God’s judgment. The cup of wrath and judgment. Isaiah fifty-one, verse 17: “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.”

And you remember how Jesus in Gethsemane prayed this prayer? “Let this cup pass from me.” And then when Jesus on Calvary, on the cross, he hung there in John chapter nineteen, verse 28 and he says, “I thirst.” Of course he was physically thirsty and they gave him wine mixed with vinegar to drink, but I think more is going on there. I think he was saying, “I will drink the cup. I will drink the cup.” The cup of God’s wrath against sin.

Spurgeon said, “There was the cup, hell was in it, the Savior drank it...he drained it till there was not a dreg left for any of his people.” That’s the cost. That’s the cost of new creation. The cost of new creation is that all of the sin and all of the iniquity that deserved all the judgment of God, that has to be dealt with and it is dealt with at the cross, so that through the cross the glory and the beauty and the joy and the fullness of Jesus’ reign, in new creation, can come to us.

One more illustration, this time from George Herbert, that great Puritan poet. In his poem, The Agony, he says:

Who knows not Love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

You see, Jesus had to drink the cup of God’s wrath so that you and I could have the new wine of the kingdom of God. Jesus took all of the wrath so that we would get all of the joy. Jesus took all the judgment so that we would get all the blessing. That’s the cost. And what should our response be? Verse eleven, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” That’s the response.

As we think this morning about the glory of this first miracle from our Lord Jesus and the significance of it and all that it means, and the cost; as we reflect on these things when we come to the table and we take the cup, we take the bread; as we do these things, let us do so with faith, believing in the Lord Jesus and what he has come to do; what he has accomplished; and what he means to us. Let us pray.

Gracious God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we come to you this morning as a God of both holiness and love, the God who judges iniquity and sin and yet the God who is the God of wine, the Lord of the feast, the one who makes your blessings flow far as the curse is found. We come with gratitude for the good gifts that you give us. We come with gratitude especially for the goodness of your own loving heart. We come to thank you that in the person and work of your Son, the Lord Jesus, you have given us all the blessings of new creation and of the new covenant and of the kingdom of God.

And as we take the bread, as we take the juice this morning, we do so in faith, feasting on our Lord Jesus himself. So unite us to yourself in communion through your Holy Spirit. Draw near to us as we draw near to you. We pray it in Jesus’ Name. Amen.