Worship Connection: Epiphany

December 8th, 2012

Epiphany of the Lord

COLOR: White
SCRIPTURE READINGS:
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

THEME

The Light of a Star

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1

L: Arise! Shine! The light you have been waiting for is here!
P: Darkness has been banished!
L: God's light of hope floods the earth
P: God's light comes to us all.
L: Lord, make us ready to journey to this Light.
P: Prepare our hearts to receive this Light. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: The Magi waited and watched, knowing something wondrous would be happening.
P: We waited for the birth of Jesus; now something wondrous is about to take root.
L: The darkness that invaded all lives was banished by the light of that star.
P: The darkness what surrounds us is gone!
L: Let us celebrate the bright shining of God's love in our lives.
P: Let us become those who will bring the light of God's love to others. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2005, "Arise, Shine" offer the following call to worship as directed]

[Note: divide the choir into two groups, the first group will sing the "leader" portions; the second group will sing the "all" portions.]

L: Darkness descended over the land.
P: The people lived in fear.
L: Then something so unexpected happened.
P: Something that fdled the people with surprise.
L: A star burned brightly in the heavens!
P: A star beyond imagining!
Choir singing "Arise, Shine" as directed above through two times.
L: Our darkness is gone!
P: Though the night be dark and times are difficult, a new light shines for us!
L: Fears and banished; failures are forgiven!
P: God has heard our cries and has given us hope!
Choir singing "Arise, Shine" as directed above through two times
L: Come, let us celebrate God's light given to us!
P: Let us praise the God of hope and promise! AMEN.

Call to Worship #4

L: Herod's treachery could not stop hope!
P God's light, whose sign was a star, was poured out for the people.
L: All the fears and fiights of this world cannot diminish God's light.
P: That light isthe life of Jesus Christ, who breaks through the darkness.
L: Thanks be to God, for the most precious gift of Light.
P: Let us live as people of new Light and Hope. AMEN.

PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

God of Promise and mysterious Light, be with us this day as we journey in our faith; to meet your Gift. Give us courage and hope along our way, as your light will continue to glow brightly in our path, leading us to service and discipleship in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Lord of living light, we hear the story of the Magi and tie it together with our warm Christmas celebration. It feels comfortable to us. Break those bonds of comfort and help us to realize the risk of witness and discipleship for those who follow your light. Shine brightly in us and through us. Forgive the blindness we so often offer to you. Give us vision of what you would have us be and do in the Light of Your Love. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Light has come to you. Your light has come and it has erased the darkness. Now we can walk and work in the light. You are loved by God and called to God's service. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord of bright and abiding Light, you have shone us, in the person of Jesus your Son, a new way to live. You have poured your light into the world and have asked us to live in the light rather than run and hide in the darkness of doubt and despair. You promise to be our light all of our days and ask us to place our trust in you. The journey in this light is risky. It means that we will have to be very serious about our service to you, giving you our best and offering hope and light to others. In this new year, we bring to you the names and situations of others for whom light seems to be a stranger. They struggle with ill health, economic hardship, broken and damaged relationships, loss of loved ones, and anxiety. We place them in your care. Let your light shine on them, bringing healing and hope. Help us to be bearers of that light in all that we do; for we ask this in Jesus' Name. AMEN.

Reading

Reader 1: Hey, look at this! I got a new flashlight for Christmas. Boy, does it ever shine brightly! I can see a long way with this! Look, see that rock in the path? I would have stumbled over that one if I didn't have this light. And, you know, it's not heavy. I thought it would be. I mean, if it gives this much light, it should be very heavy. It's great! I can carry it with me everywhere, using it in the darkest nights or places. I never thought I would have a light like this! I'd been using old flashlights that grow dim very quickly; hoping that I would find just the right one that would really work for me. Now, here it is! Wow!

Reader 2: Well, it's a great light, that's for sure; but it doesn't show everything. You can see what's directly in your path, but you can't see everywhere. Suppose there's something just out of the beam of your light? What are you going to do? You could be in trouble or get hurt. That light is no guarantee of safety.

Reader 1:
Well, in a way, you are right. I can't see everything. But, you see, I can move this light from side to side, up and down, in circles, squares. I won't always be able to see everything, but I will be able to trust that I can see where I shine my light. Isn't it that way in life. We don't always know what's coming, but we can shine our light in many ways. We will get some surprises; but the light will give us directions and guidance. Light is like that. And in a way, God is like that. God has given us new light, just like the light of the star that led the Magi. They followed the light, not really sure of where it would lead them. They didn't know what troubles and difficulties lay in their path, but they chose to follow the Light. Herod was one of those major obstacles, but they were able to bring him a message of hope, and they did get to see the Savior. What Herod chose to do with the message was to destroy the light of hope and feed on his greed and fear.

Reader 2:
So you're saying that the light in that star is like God's light given to us. We have choices as to how to respond to that light. We can live in greed, hopelessness and fear, or we can take the risk and follow that light?

Reader 1:
Sounds like a good plan to me. I want to see where this light is going to take me.

Benediction
Go into God's world, bearing the light of hope and peace. Bring the Good News of the love of God through Jesus Christ to all the people. Go in peace. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is: WHITE

SURFACE: Place a 3" riser at the center back of the worship center. Place a riser in front of the worship area. FABRIC: Cover the worship area in white fabric, so that all risers are covered.

CANDLES: Place votive candles in front of each "star", and place a 6"white pillar candle on each side of the 3" riser. Place a small white pillar candle on the riser in front of the worship center.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Not necessary for this setting

ROCKS/WOOD: Not necessary for this setting

OTHER: Create a large five pointed star to hang behind the worship center, about one foot above the 3" riser. Create as many 6-8" stars, out of cardboard, poster board, or other heavy stock, and place them on the worship center. Design them so that they stand up, without leaning on something. Place lots of 4" stars spilling over the front of the worship center and the riser in the front of it. If you have the space, string fishing or other transparent line, across the sanctuary and stick double sided five pointed stars to it so that the sanctuary appears bathed in stars. If this is not possible, make some 8 stars to be put on the ends of the pews, and on the walls of the sanctuary. You might also want to have a star theme for the bulletin cover. This is a good way to involve the church school and youth groups.

About the Author

Nancy C. Townley

Nancy C. Townley is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. She consults on visual arts, drama, liturgy and read more…
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