January: First month, first miracle!
Pause for thought: Read the Bible story below about Jesus at a wedding in Cana. It was here that Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine when supplies ran out.
In those days, wedding festivities often lasted a week, and it would have been a source of great shame for the bridegroom to have insufficient wine to serve his guests. Mary has great faith that her son will save the host (perhaps a family member or close friend) from embarrassment – although presumably she does not know how he will do so. At first sight, it may appear that Jesus is reluctant to be involved in “saving” the bridegroom from an awkward social situation. But perhaps he is trying to show his mother that his real mission, only just beginning, must now be to fulfill God’s purposes for him, rather than doing what she wishes at home. His journey will lead to the far more significant act of saving mankind by his eventual death on the Cross, when his blood will be poured out like red wine. But that time has not yet come.
As parents, we can encourage our children to put their faith in Jesus and to ask him for whatever they need, whether significant or small – for every aspect of our lives is important to him.
We want our children to grow up to be self-sufficient, but perhaps we also need to remind them that each of us is only human, and likely to run out of resources such as stamina, patience and joy at times. As Christians, however, we need not despair, for we can rely on Jesus to sustain us.
There’s no more wine! (John 2:1-12)
A mealtime story. You will need a jug of water, glasses for each person and a bottle of blackcurrant squash!
Soon after Jesus had chosen his disciples, they were all invited to a wedding in Cana, a small village just four miles from Nazareth. Jesus’ mother Mary was invited as well. It must have been a grand wedding, because there were servants to wait on the guests and a master of the banquet who was in charge of all the food and drink.
The guests all smiled and enjoyed themselves at the feast, but the servants wore anxious frowns. The wine had run out! No more wine! What would happen when people wanted their cups refilled?
Mary must have noticed the worried faces. What an embarrassing situation for the bridegroom! He and his family would be in disgrace and all the joy of the celebrations spoiled! She couldn’t put things right, but she was sure that Jesus would have the answer. Finding him, she touched his elbow and whispered in his ear, “ They have no more wine!”
“My dear mother, why do you tell me this?” replied Jesus. “ My time to act has not yet come!”
But Mary knew her son well. She went to the servants and told them quietly, “Do whatever Jesus tells you.”
Six stone water jars stood nearby. They were huge, each one able to hold twenty to thirty gallons of water. The Jews washed their hands over and over again before eating, because of their strict religious rules, and so now they stood empty.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. (Fill glasses with water.) Then he told a servant, “Pour some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
The servant began to draw the water, but his eyebrows shot up as he saw the cup he held fill with wine! (Add some blackcurrant squash!)
He watched carefully as the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, although the servant knew – for he had filled the huge jar with water only a moment ago.
The master’s face broke into a delighted smile as he called the bridegroom aside. “Most people serve the best wine first and leave the cheaper wine until everyone has had too much to drink; but you have saved the best until now!”
Jesus’ disciples watched this miracle in wonder, and were full of amazement at the power of their new leader. Surely he would bring kindness and joy in place of all the strict rules of the Jewish religion.
There’s no more wine! Read the Bible story together, perhaps just before a family meal. Place glasses for each person, a jug of water and a bottle of blackcurrant squash on the table so that the children can follow “turn water into wine!!” Chat about the story:
Who’s been to a wedding? What was it like at the reception?
How do you think the wedding family in the story felt when they realized there was no more wine to serve their guests?
Who do you think had great faith in this story?
What do you think Jesus meant when he said that his time had not yet come?
Half empty or half full? Sometimes it can seem a bit of a struggle to get through January – in the very depths of winter. If family members are feeling low, half fill a jam jar and explain that it could be described as half empty or half full! On car journeys, etc, practise looking at things from a positive angle. For example:
A/W sad face A/W happy face
It’s freezing outside . . . but that means we can toast crumpets on the fire!
Christmas is over . . . but
We’re back to school soon . . .
Chat about Jesus filling the huge water jars with the best red wine. Jesus was showing that he would bring God’s love and joy wherever he went.
A family film: If you know that the weather is going to be atrocious one January weekend, why not have a family film afternoon/evening. Get in some popcorn, close the curtains, snuggle up together on the sofa and watch a family film with a wedding at the heart of it! This is a treat that children will remember and could become a family tradition once in a while!
Wedding cake craft
You will need: tissue paper in different colours, black and other coloured felt-tipped pens, white paper, glue
Have a look at any celebration baking cake tins you may have that fit one inside the other. Look at any photos of a couple cutting a wedding cake.
Cut out rectangles of tissue, each one smaller than the last, and glue on to white paper to make five layers of cake.
Draw around each layer with the black pen and then decorate with patterns such as hearts, circles and wavy lines. Colour in the shapes.
You could draw a wedding couple decoration on top of the cake. Now that you have practiced this, why not make a wedding or anniversary card for someone you know on some folded white paper, using a similar method?
It makes sense to talk to our children about the dangers of drinking too much alcohol – especially as they approach their teenage years.
The safe limits recommended by the Dept of Health are:
Men – No more than 14 units per week, no more than 4 units in any one
day. Have at least 2 alcohol free days a week.
Women- as above, but no more than 3 units in any one day.
Binge drinking can be harmful, even though the weekly total may not seem too high.
It might be helpful to ask children to measure out water in a wine glass to see what one unit looks like. A small glass (125 ml) of ordinary strength wine (12% alcohol) is equivalent to one and a half units! Can they work out how many units there are in a 750ml bottle of wine? Would you be under or over the sensible limit if you drank two bottles in a week?
There is more information about sensible drinking on the website www.patient.info
God is interested in every part of our lives and we can ask for his help in big and small ways. Write lots of prayers on colourful sticky notes and stick to a bedroom table or desk. If God answers the prayer, put the note in an empty jam jar beside your bed.
“You treat me to a feast while my enemies watch. You honour me as your guest and you fill my cup until it overflows.” Psalm 23.