Jesus, come, for we invite you

Today’s hymn “Jesus, come, for we invite you” is based on the story of the wedding feast at Cana when Jesus turned a large quantity of water into the finest wine.  The story is often understood in a symbolic sense as promising that Jesus would bring what he himself called “abundant life” or “fullness of life” – life as God intended it to be, in harmony with God, with nature and with other people. That phrase doesn’t appear in the words of the hymn, although the first verse refers to “joy restored”.

The last verse asks him to make us “willing to receive” – an important point, that, as God always offers good things but it is we who are often slow to receive.  George Herbert’s famous poem “Love bade me welcome” explores this in more depth, the idea that sinful people feel unworthy to accept God’s good gifts.   

What is it that we are invited to receive, according to the hymn? “more than we can imagine, all the best you have to give, your hidden riches”.  We are invited to “taste [his] love, believe and live!”  Going back to the Cana story, maybe the message is that we should treat Jesus’s offer of fullness of life like a glass of the finest wine served at a wedding – who could refuse to share the joy of the occasion or the sheer sensual pleasure of the drink, and knowing there is no charge to us because the proud father bears all the cost?

1 thought on “Jesus, come, for we invite you”

  1. I enjoyed singing this hymn and the book is reminding me of my appreciation of Christopher Idle’s many words – he’s one of my heroes! The little carry-overs from the story (by the way, it’s clearly based on the whole of John 2:1-11, not just on verses 1-4) into the petitions of the hymns, such as the “need or doubting” (v1, taking up the initial exchange between Mary and Jesus), the “command your servants”, the “your hand may work in secret” and so on, all show the way Christopher has tried to take bible nuances and put them onto our lips. I applaud him.

    I was struck by Christopher calling Jesus “our first and greatest Sign” (v3). Of course the text says that this was “the first of his signs” and technically it’s the miracle rather than the performer of it which is the sign – but Christopher is right too, in that the sign is a sign of who Jesus is. And I was also struck by the final word: to rhyme with the “receive” of v4 line 2 I’d expected “believe”, but Christopher is right to say that believing is not an end in itself so much as a means to the life which God wants to give us (cf John 10:10, which Stephen alludes to in his first paragraph above). Many thanks, Christopher, for these words.

    (I prefer the harmonisation of the tune “Unser Herrscher” at A&MR 222 – but I won’t elaborate on that here.)

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