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                  St Clement Church Epiphany Service

 

A very ‘Happy New Year’ to you all and welcome to our service celebrating Epiphany.                                                                                                                              May 2022 be a happier, healthier and more peaceful year than the years 2020 and 2021.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

With love                                                                                                                                                              Liz

Let us pray

As the dawn breaks on a new year, let us give thanks for all we hold dear: our health, our family, our friends.                                                                                                                   Let us release our grudges, our anger and our pains, for these are nothing but binding chains. Let us live each day in the most loving ways, the God-conscious way. Let us serve all who are in need, regardless of race, colour or creed.

Let us keep God of our own understanding in our hearts and talk to him each day. Let us lead the world from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth and from wrong to right.

Let us remember that we are all one, embracing all, discriminating against none.

May our year be filled with peace, prosperity and love. May God’s blessings shower upon us and bestow upon each and every one of us a bright, healthy and peaceful new year.

Amen

Hymn:    48   Bethlehem of noblest cities

A prayer of Penitence

Dear Heavenly Father, we lower our heads before you and we confess that we have too often forgotten that we are yours.                                                              Sometimes we carry on our lives as if there was no God and we fall short of being a credible witness to you. For these things we ask your forgiveness and we also ask for your strength.                                                                                              Give us clear minds and open hearts so we may witness to you in our world.                            Remind us to be who you would have us to be regardless of what we are doing or who we are with.                                                                                                                                    Hold us to you and build our relationship with you and with those you have given us on earth.

Amen

Let us pray the Collect for Epiphany

O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.                                                                                                                                   

Amen

Readings

Isaiah 60. 1 - 6                                                                                                                                               Ephesians 3. 1 - 12                                                                                                                                    

Hymn:  47   ,As with gladness men of old

Gospel of Matthew 2. 1 - 12

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.                                                                                                         Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord)

In the time of Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’                                                                                                                                          When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.                                                                                          They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.”’                                                                                                                                            Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star appeared.                                                                                                                     Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may go also and pay him homage.’                                                                                                                                             When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.                                                                                                                                                 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.                                On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.                                                                                                               Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.                                                                                                                           And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

(This is the Gospel of our Lord. Response: ‘Praise to you, O Lord’)

Reflection

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany – the coming of the Magi or Wise Men – at times they are referred to as kings - to pay homage and bring gifts to the new king.                                                                                                                                What do we actually know about them? Very little!                                                                            We know that they came from the East – therefore they were travelling West. We know that Magi came from ancient Persia and that they were priests or members of a priestly class who were learned and paid particular attention to the stars. They were skilled in philosophy, medicine, religion and natural science. This priestly caste gained an international reputation for astrology, which was, at that time, highly regarded as a science and astronomy – hence Wise Men; they were also magicians or sorcerers. But, other than that – we know nothing.  Holy Scripture doesn’t tell us their names or how many there were. No one knows for sure. Eastern Orthodoxy says there were twelve but our tradition says there were three, probably because there were three gifts.

Quite where the names of Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar came from – well there is a Western church tradition that Balthasar is represented as a King of Arabia or Ethiopia, Melchior as a King of Persia and Gaspar (or Casper) as a King of India - but, actually, no one knows.

It’s a wonderful story, though, isn’t it – one that’s captured our imagination over the years. But, is it just a story and why do we call it The Epiphany?

What does the word epiphany actually mean? It means a sudden revelation or insight into the nature, essence or meaning of something, particularly to do with God.

The prevailing view within Judaism at the time that Jesus was born was that the relationship that God wanted was just with his chosen people – the Jews.

At the beginning of his account of Jesus’ life, Matthew tells us that the Jews sitting in Jerusalem fail to see what God is doing. It takes some foreigners – wise and learned people who have come a great distance and who are outside the acceptable spiritual in-crowd – to spot what God is doing.

God shows himself in our world. For these wise men the clue was in the way that the world fitted together - the way the stars worked, the way the world functioned. They saw a new star in the sky; they looked at it and they said, ‘This is it! Something momentous has happened which we must look into.’      As they marvelled, they did something about it – they went to find out what this huge event was. They went to find the event that God was guiding them to.

So, God shows himself in the way our world is and works.

But God is also at work throughout time and in history.                                                                     The wise men turn up at the palace and Herod freaks out. There’s another king in town after his throne. So, he wants to know where this king is going to be born. The wise men at the palace who study God’s Word say – ‘it’s obvious Herod – it’s all written here … in the Bible … he will be born in Bethlehem.’                                    There is written evidence of God’s work and his Word spoken from generation to generation. There is a history that fits together perfectly and which can undergo extraordinary examination and investigation. These wise men at this Epiphany were really only half way through that story and that chain of incredible events which culminated in the resurrection. But they knew the story. They knew that God had made promises. God was at work in his world and that he wanted a response.

Finally, God shows himself in person – in the child born in a manger … in an historic event. Someone we can meet and encounter. That’s what these wise men did. They came, they found Jesus and they worshipped.

So, why is it called the Epiphany – because it shows that God wants to reveal himself to everyone … not just the chosen few.

The wise men show us that there is a stage beyond knowing that God us there. There’s a stage beyond knowing that God is at work. We actually have to do something concrete and real with that belief. And, it’s more than just a few words – it’s our whole life.

The wise men do three massive things – they look for God; they come and worship Jesus despite all sorts of opposition; and they give to Jesus. They give these amazing gifts – their time, their allegiance and gold, frankincense and myrrh.

If the foundation of the Christian faith is that God is there, it only becomes something when we respond. If God is there, we have to look for him. We have to put ourselves out for him. We have to head out on the journey of life with him and that means we have to give our whole life to him.

That’s our Epiphany.

Amen                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                             Affirmation of our Faith

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist?                                                                                                                                    We believe and trust in him.                                                                                                                   Do you believe and trust in God the Son who took our human nature, died for us and rose again?                                                                                                                                         We believe and trust in him.                                                                                                                  Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world?                                                                                         We believe and trust in him.                                                                                                                    This is the faith of the Church.                                                                                                               This is our faith.  We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen

Hymn:  295   Let all mortal flesh keep silence

Intercessions

Holy God, you sent a star to guide the Wise Men to worship your Son Jesus, send your Holy Spirit to guide our Church as we begin a New Year in our Christian life together.

As we face the unknown in the coming year at a difficult and painful time for the world which has been suffering from the Pandemic for almost two years, let the star of your justice always shine in the hearts of the world’s governments as they make difficult decisions to cope with problems at home and abroad.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                            Lord, graciously hear us                                                                                                                         

Creator God, we thank you for helping us to make it through a difficult year.                                                  Thank you that you’ve carried us through the uncertainty of deep waters, through the flames of trials and through the pain of hard losses.                                                       We are constantly aware of how much we need you, your grace, your strength, your power working through even the toughest of days.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                              Lord, graciously hear us

Almighty God, fill us with your joy and the peace of your Spirit.                                                         Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us. For you never leave us.                                                               Thank you for your daily powerful Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that you surround us with favour as with a shield, and we are safe in your care.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                                  Lord, graciously hear us

We pray for all who are suffering from the effects of the pandemic here and across the world. As we go out into this New Year, we ask for your loving presence to be with us and to share in life’s joys and to strengthen us in all sorrows.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                                 Lord, graciously hear us

Loving God, we pray for all those whom we love who are suffering in body, mind or spirit. May their pain be eased and may they find the strength to endure. Comfort them with your presence and help them to hold on to the knowledge that you understand the truth of human suffering. We especially remember at this time: Ken and Diane, Daphne and Dave, Ollie and Margaret.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                                   Lord, graciously hear us

Merciful God, we pray for all who are coming to the end of their journey here on earth and pray that they may enter into your presence and kingdom. We pray for all those who have already died and live again with you in the fullness of eternal life.                                                                                                                                   Enfold in your loving arms their families and loved ones who are grieving their passing that they may find comfort in the days ahead.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                  Lord, graciously hear us

Gracious God, as we begin a New Year, remind us of the things that are truly important and worthwhile. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do.                                                                                                       Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we may live in peace with you now, one day at a time.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen

 

Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray with confidence as Jesus taught us.

Our Father who art in heaven,                                                                                                      hallowed be thy name:                                                                                                                         thy kingdom come;                                                                                                                            thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.                                                                                        Give us this day our daily bread.                                                                                                  And forgive us our trespasses                                                                                                     as we forgive those who trespass against us.                                                                                   And lead us not into temptation                                                                                                   but deliver us from evil.                                                                                                                For thine is the kingdom,                                                                                                                the power and the glory,                                                                                                              for ever and ever.                                                                                                                                Amen.

 

The New Year            unknown writer

At the sound of the tolling midnight bell                                                                                        a brand new year will begin.                                                                                                                    Let’s raise our hopes in a confident toast                                                                                            to the promise it ushers in.

May your battles be few, your pleasures many                                                                            your wishes and dreams fulfilled.                                                                                                   May your confidence stand in the face of loss                                                                              and give you the strength to rebuild.

May peace of heart fill all your days                                                                                                 may serenity grace your soul.                                                                                                         May tranquil moments bless your life                                                                                                and keep your spirit whole.

 

The Peace

God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them.                                The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Amen

 

Hymn:  48  Bethlehem of noblest cities

 

Blessing

May the strength of God sustain us; may the power of God preserve us; may the hands of God protect us; may the way of God direct us; may the love of God go with us this day and forever.

Amen

                                                                                                                                                                  

 


Page last updated: 31st December 2021 9:56 AM