Services whilst we are closed due to Corona virus

                                

                                        

        

 

         St Clement Church Community Epiphany Service

 

Good morning and a ‘safe, peaceful and healthy’ New Year to you all.

2021 is not starting as we were hoping it would. There is still a ‘darkness’ hanging over the world.                                                                                              May our faith in the ‘Light of Christ’ help us through these difficult times and may the amazing achievements of small groups of scientists soon see an end to the pandemic that has held the world to ransom.

God Bless

With my love

Liz

 

Let us pray;

 

May God the Father, who led the wise men by the shining of a star to find the Christ child, the Light from light, lead us also in our pilgrimage to find the Lord.   Amen.

 

Our prayers of Penitence

Father God, the star that led the Magi to the Christ child announced to the world that its Saviour was born. Today we live in a world that is still covered by darkness, and still needing to make that journey to the stable door.

 

Lord Jesus, illuminate the darkness in our hearts:

Lord, have mercy.

 

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to Your saving love:

 

Christ, have mercy.

 

Lord Jesus, unstop our ears to Your Living Word:

 

Lord, have mercy.

 

May our Almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners, bring us his pardon and peace, now and for ever.

Amen.

 

 

Let us pray our Collect for today

 

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 for ever.

 

Amen.

 

                                                                                           

Our Reading is taken from the Gospel of Matthew (2. 1 - 12)

 

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. 

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord.’

 

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in 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 had 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 also go 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 the Lord.  Response: ‘Praise to you, O, Christ’)

 

Reflection

 

This year, for the first time in four hundred years, the planets of Jupiter and Saturn aligned, so that, if you looked up into the night sky towards the South West, they appeared as a single bright star. Certainly, as we came out of church after Midnight Mass on Christmas morning, there it was.

It has been suggested that this was the ‘Star of Bethlehem,’ because, if one traces back, the planets also aligned in 7 BC when it is thought Jesus was born.

Which direction were the travellers coming from? The East. So, the star MUST have been in the West and not the East, if they were following it.

We know that the travellers are wise men, or magi. Who or what are magi? Well, the magi were originally a priestly group that flourished in the Persian Empire, some 500 years before the time of Christ. By the time of Christ, the term ‘magi’ was used for anyone who possessed some kind of secret knowledge or unnatural powers. In Acts 13, the word is translated as sorcerer. The term ‘magi’ is the same root word from which we get the word magic.

But here, these Magi seem less like sorcerers and more like ancient astrologers, for we’re told that they knew the night sky well enough to know when a new star appeared.                                                                          We don’t know much about them, but we do know that they were from the East; perhaps Babylonia or Persia, or maybe a combination of nations.

We know that they probably studied the stars as they showed tremendous interest in this celestial happening.

There’s also a chance that they were familiar with a prophecy out of the book of Numbers, as prophecies may have reached into the Eastern parts of the region. Numbers 24: 17 says,

A star will come from Jacob, and a sceptre will arise from Israel.’

This prophecy could have impacted on them and caused them to look for this star.

Anyway, these men were interested in this star because it pointed them to One who was born to be King of the Jews.

There is no evidence that there were only three wise men. It’s likely that there were more. These men probably didn’t travel by themselves as they were important people. We know later, that there were three gifts presented but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there were only three wise men.

What we do know is that they travelled very far to find out more about this child born as a king. So, not knowing any better, they go to Herod and ask, ‘Where is the child who has been born King of the Jews?’ This question is at the centre of their journey. It has been with them for a long time. It causes them to pack up and leave home. It keeps them searching and watching. It gives meaning and purpose to their lives. It offers direction and leads them to the child.

At the news of a baby born king of the Jews, Herod is troubled – even afraid.

Why?

Well, what we know about Herod is that although he is king, he is not even Jewish. He has purchased the right to be king from the Roman government. He rules with an iron fist. He is ruthless, powerful and jealous. He even has some of his own family killed because he is paranoid that they might steal his power.

His temper gives a reason why Jerusalem is troubled with him. They don’t want to see what he will do if he gets upset.

He knows that he is not the legitimate heir to the throne in Jerusalem. If this baby is the legitimate heir, there could be problems. So, he asks his advisers where the baby will be born. The priests and scribes easily identify where the Messiah will be born but interestingly, they don’t go to look for the Messiah themselves or even check out the situation.

Now, Herod knows where the Christ is to be born, so, he makes a request to the wisemen – ‘You search carefully for the baby and let me know where he is, so I can go and pay homage to him too.’

The wisemen set off again, the star reappears and guides them right to where Jesus is.

Quite where Mary, Joseph and the baby are, we don’t know. Certainly, it would have taken the wisemen quite some time for them to see the star, travel, visit Herod, travel further and finally find the baby they were searching for. We don’t know how long it took, but we’re sure they don’t arrive the same night that Jesus is born.

Certainly, when they do arrive, they immediately recognise that there is something very special and different about this baby. He is worthy of worship. Even then, this a sign that Jesus is to be worshipped not just by the Jews, but by ALL the nations of the world. In their worship, the Wise Men present him with gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. It has been suggested that these three gifts signify the life and death of Jesus but actually, they are normal gifts to present to royalty.

Last year, 2020 was a particularly difficult year for us all. We were embattled by an invisible enemy and sadly, still are.

The Wise Men asked, ‘Where is the child who has been born King of the Jews?’ Surely, that question, asked so many years ago, should be our question, our guiding star. It illuminates the night skies of our lives. It pushes back the darkness and points the way. We shouldn’t settle for what the Wise Men saw. We should look for ourselves. 

If we ask the question, follow the star, open our lives, it will give God the opportunity to say, ‘Look! Right here, right here in the middle of your life, HERE is the child who has been born King of the Jews.’

Amen.

 

 

Affirmation of our faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

 

We believe and trust in God the Father                                                                from whom every family                                                                                                           in heaven and on earth is named.

 

We believe and trust in God the Son

who lives in our hearts through faith,

and fills us with His love.

 

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,

who strengthens us

with power from on high.

 

 We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

 

Our Intercessions this week are by Liz Davies

 

The Magi came from the East to worship Your Son: Father, grant to Christians everywhere the spirit of adoration and that through their worship they may reflect the glorious light of Christ.

Heavenly Father, You sent your Son to guide Your people, just as You sent a star to guide the Wise Men to worship Him. We pray that You will send Your Holy Spirit to guide our Church as we begin a New Year. We know that this year will bring significant changes and we pray that You will always be present as we take one more step along the journey of faith.                                                                                                                            

 

Lord in your mercy.  Hear our prayer.

 

Lord God, as we face the start of 2021 we pray for Your world. Let the star of Your justice always shine in the hearts of those who are in authority. Enable all nations to recognise the sanctity of each and every human life in their care so that all may experience an abundance of peace and security. Most especially we pray that this year will see the end of the pandemic as the programme of vaccination continues worldwide.

 

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

 

Father God, Your Son shared the life of his home and family in Nazareth: we give thanks for His presence with us in our homes and lives. Guide us in our relationships with family and neighbours, especially those in trouble or need and bless those who have guided and enriched our own lives.

 

Lord in your mercy.  Hear our prayer.

 

Loving God, we pray for all those who have lost their way or have been led astray; for all who are struggling to cope in these difficult times; for those whose lives are unfulfilled and those whose lives are restricted by illness. We bring before You all those who are chronically ill, those in constant pain, the depressed and the despairing. We especially remember Sue, Kate, Martin and all those who have no one to pray for them.

 

Lord in your mercy.  Hear our prayer.

 

Merciful Lord, we pray for all who are coming to the end of their journey here on earth and pray that they may come into Your presence and kingdom.                                                                                                                        We pray for all those who have come before Your face and now rejoice in the fullness of eternal life. We remember especially Renee. Enfold Brian and his family in Your loving arms as they face life without her.

 

Lord in your mercy.  Hear our prayer.

 

Eternal God, as we go out into this New Year we ask for Your loving presence with us to share in its joys and to strengthen us in its sorrows.

 

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.

 

Arise, shine, for the Light of the World has come!

Darkness covers the earth and its people,

but the radiance of God’s Light burns away its shadows,

illuminates its darkest corner,

and heralds in the start of a new dawn,

where hearts no longer fear, souls may be set free,

and sister shall follow brother,

nation shall follow nation,

and kings and princes bow down in awe

before the One who comes to reign.

Arise, shine, for the Light of the World has come!

 

The Peace

Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called the Prince of Peace.

May the peace of God be always with us.  Amen.

 

 

Blessing

May Christ the Son of God, born of Mary, fill us with his grace to trust his promises and obey his will; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us, those whom we love, and remain with us always. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Page last updated: 1st January 2021 10:50 AM