Worship Connection: Epiphany Sunday 2016

December 1st, 2015

Color: White
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1:

L: Darkness is banished!
P: God’s light has come to us!
L: The brightness of the Star leads us!
P: We come to celebrate God’s abiding love!
L: Glory be to God in the Highest!
P: And on earth, peace forever. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:
L: O Come, Let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!
P: The Star in the dark sky heralded His Coming.
L: Led by the light of the Star, the Wise Ones came to pay homage.
P: We, too, come to the stable, seeking the infant King.
L: Come, Arise! Shine! The Light has come.
P: God’s Light of love is shining upon us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 243, “De Tierra Lejana Venimos,” offer the following call to worship as directed.]

Choir: singing verse 1 of “De Tierra Lejana Venimos”

L: On the Eve of His birth, shepherds were led to a stable, to see the Child in a manger, the child who would be the hope for all those who were oppressed and hopeless.
P: The night sky, dark and foreboding, was filled with angelic light, and the voices of the heavenly host brought the good news to those who least expected it.

Choir: singing verse 2 of “De Tierra Lejana Venimos”

L: Others were drawn to the manger scene, from distant lands, seeking to find a king who would change the world, who would bring good news.
P: They came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, costly and precious for the most precious Gift of God.

Choir: singing verse 3 of “De Tierra Lejana Venimos”

L: Let us come this day, bearing our burdens and our joys. Let us come before the manger of the King.
P: We come, bringing what we have, to pay homage to the one who will change the world.

Choir: singing verse 4 of “De Tierra Lejana Venimos”

Call to Worship #4:
L: Darkness is not limited to night skies; darkness invades our spirits and our souls.
P: In darkness of doubt and despair we have lived, until we witnessed the birth of the Savior.
L: Now the light has truly come to us!
P: Darkness has been banished away!
L: Arise! Shine! For the Light of God’s love has come!
P: And we shall be led to that Light in joy and celebration. AMEN.


PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer
Loving God, who breaks through the darkness of doubt and despair, be with us this day as we hear of the visit of the Wise Ones, who risked everything to follow a Star. Let us open our hearts and be willing to risk receiving the gift of gracious Love that you have to offer us in the form of our Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession
Lord, we confess that we have been wrapped up on our secular celebration of Christmas. We have thoroughly enjoyed the music, the food, the swirl of activities. We have looked happily at the Christmas lights and decorations, and yet we have chosen to ignore the people who are most in need of compassion and assistance during this time. We often feel overwhelmed by the demands on our resources and so we turn our “deaf ear” and look away. Open our hearts today, precious Lord, and help us hear the cries of those in need. Bring us to an understanding of active discipleship in which we work helping others and thus serving you. Heal us and give us courage and joy in your service. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance
As surely as the Light follows the Darkness, the light of God’s love, given to the world so long ago, is given for you, for healing and hope. You are beloved of God. In God’s name, receive the Light. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer
Patient Lord, wait for us while we get nostalgic over the Manger Scene. Our hearts are warmed by the witness of the shepherds and the journey and adoration of the Magi. We want to stay right at that time and feel the glow of that love. But you call us to go from the manger, back to our fields, back to our schools, back to our homes, back to our work. You pour your transforming love into our lives and we are challenged to bring back to all those places the glad good news of hope and salvation. Remind us again of all the opportunities we are given to celebrate your love and power. Help us find joy in serving others. As we have brought the names of those near and dear to us before the throne of grace, asking for your healing mercies, help us remember that the love poured out in the Light of the Natal Star is still given for us this day. Give us grace and peace to reach out to all those in need. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Reading
[This reading should be done as though the readers are parents of children in a Christmas pageant. The readers should be able to “get into the part,” so some time should be taken for rehearsal, particularly timing on Reader 3. The voice should be from offstage and should be a strong voice, full of confidence and compassion.]

Reader 1:
Did you see him? My little Billy? He’s the King with the purple bathrobe and the gold cardboard crown on his head. His mother made the gift box from glitter and beads. Look how he is standing there looking at the baby Jesus! Isn’t he cute? I’m so proud of him!

Voice:
“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.”

Reader 2:
My daughter Amy is actually one of the kings. After all, who says they all have to be boys! I think girls work just as well. It says they were wise men, but some people call them Magi. Anyway, I think she makes a regal royal person. Look how nicely she is standing there. Her grandmother made her royal robe, and I decorated her jar with glitter. We put Epsom salts flavored with perfume and food coloring in the jar, you know, so that it can be used afterwards.

Voice:
The Child shall be born “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.”

Reader 3:
Daniel, Daniel, stop wiggling! Honestly, he can’t stand still for a minute! He wanted to be a shepherd, but all those parts were taken. They asked him if he would like to be Joseph, but he said no. So he got to be a king. Daniel, push the crown back up on your head. He’s not too happy about this. He’s the king who’s carrying the ointment--I think it’s called myrrh--for the burial of Jesus. He didn’t like that. I don’t know why they told him that he had that gift. Couldn’t they just have left it as a gift and not mentioned the contents? Daniel, look at the Baby Jesus! He’s not comfortable with this at all. But he will be OK. He’s a good boy.

Voice:
“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.”

Reader 1:
I wonder what it was like, actually for those wise men, kings, or Magi, whatever they are called? It wasn’t just a play for them.

Reader 2:
I wonder what they risked to make the journey. There were some pretty inherent dangers in such a trip, dealing with King Herod.

Reader 3:
I wonder what forebodings they had. Did they know to whom they would truly be led?

Voice:
We, too, are led to Christ. It’s not a play; there are great risks in placing your whole trust in his love; there are dangers in the journey. But we do not travel alone. That’s what this whole thing is about--“GOD IS WITH US.” God has chosen to be very present to us in all that we say and do. We aren’t alone. Thanks be to God.

Benediction
The Light of the Star, the light of God’s love, shines before you as you leave this place. Go in peace, go in joy, go in love to meet God’s people in the world and greet them with the good news of salvation. AMEN.


ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional Color for this Sunday is: WHITE

Note: For some churches, Epiphany Sunday is a celebration of bright light. Many churches place stars throughout the sanctuary and in the worship center. You may choose to do this, for it will add to the theme of the day.

SURFACE:
Place a 6” riser on the center back of the worship center. Other shorter risers may be placed at various spots on the worship center.

FABRIC:
Cover the entire worship center in white fabric. You may choose to wind gold ribbon, about 2” wide, across the worship center and trail the streamers down the front of the worship center to the floor

CANDLES:
White votive candles may be placed throughout the worship center, or you may choose to place a large white candle, the Christ Candle, on the center 6” riser and other smaller candles nearby

FLOWERS/PLANTS:
If you have poinsettias left after the Christmas celebration, you may want to place them on the floor in front of the worship center. White poinsettias would look especially nice on either side of the Christ Candle.

ROCKS/WOOD:
Not necessary for this setting.

OTHER:
Have someone make three crowns to be placed on the worship center in front of the Christ Candle. You may also have the treasure chests, jars, or other representations of the gifts placed on the worship center.

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