Epiphany of the Lord
Friday January 6, 2017
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
In the Northern Hemisphere, we are experiencing the darkness of midwinter. Days are short and nights long. But there are other forms of darkness—poverty, war, injustice, oppression, hatred, prejudice, fear—forms that also affect us just as they did the people of biblical times. In these passages, light breaks through the darkness: a prophet calls us to arise and see the light of liberation and peace, reconciliation and joy; the psalmist prays for a ruler who will light the way of his people with righteousness, prosperity, and an end to oppression and injustice. The writer of Ephesians lights the way through mystery, with a message of the good news of Christ Jesus; and the Magi follow the light of a star, finding more than they were looking for, to return home transformed.
Invitation and Gathering
Call to Worship
Arise; shine, for your light has come!
We are called out of our darkness into light.
Lift up your eyes and look around.
We rejoice in the gift of light.
Come let us worship the God of light and joy and peace.
We come to kneel at the cradle of the babe,
the light incarnate.
God of promise and light,
open our eyes this morning,
that we may see your light in the darkness.
Open our hearts,
that we may perceive your promises
of justice and righteousness
fulfilled in the babe of Bethlehem.
May we, like the Magi,
have a star to guide us
on our journey quest
to find the one who will truly set us free.
May this time of worship
bring us closer to you,
that the good news
of the birth of light and love
will transform our lives. Amen.
Proclamation and Response
Prayer of Confession
we are a people who live in thick darkness.
We stumble around
bombarded by news of war and poverty,
famine and genocide,
injustice and oppression.
The maelstrom of things and issues
and people of the dark,
can overwhelm and paralyze us.
Help us be people of the light,
shining your light of righteousness, peace, and joy
into all the dark places of our lives and world.
Unlock the mystery and glory
of the babe born in Bethlehem.
Turn our aimless wanderings
into a journey of purpose
guided by your star.
Let the light break into our lives and our world,
and transform us into people of the light.
Words of Assurance
As certain as the dawn follows the night,
so is the promise of God's forgiveness
and love for us all.
Arise and Shine.
Follow the star.
Find the light of the world born in Bethlehem . . . .
and be transformed from darkness into light.
Passing the Peace of Christ
Lift your eyes and look around.
The light of the babe of Bethlehem
shines from the face of each one here.
Let us now greet that light,
rejoice that we are here together,
and pass the peace of Christ,
our joy and our hope.
Invitation to the Word/Sermon
Open our hearts and minds to the light of your word
read and preached.
Response to the Word/Sermon
We rejoice in the mystery
made plain through the good news
of the babe of Bethlehem.
May this good news transform us and guide us
as we seek to follow the star of love and light.
Thanksgiving and Communion
Invitation to the Offering
We have seen the light of the world.
We have been called to follow the star of promise.
Like the Magi,
let us bring our gifts to honor the babe of Bethlehem
and bring the light to all the dark places
in our community and our world.
God of light and promise,
we bring our gifts
to further your work in a dark world.
May they bring your light
to those overwhelmed
by darkness, pain, and loneliness.
Accept these gifts of money and time,
indeed, the gift of our very selves.
Let them shine for all to see,
and be brought into the sphere of your love
Arise, and go forth to shine for all the world to see.
We go to spread the good news of light and love,
righteousness and justice.
Go now and follow the star
that will guide you on your journey
this week, this year, and forever.
As the Magi of old,
we go forth in trust and excitement,
transformed in the presence
of the child of light.
May the blessing of the God of light
rest upon you and fill you with light.
Contemporary Gathering Words
Light has broken in on the darkness of the world!
Can you see it? Can you feel it?
Open the eyes of your heart and light the light within.
There is a star beckoning us to follow.
Let's go and see where it leads us today in worship.
Let's see where it leads us tomorrow
as we go about our day, our week,
and the rest of our lives.
Arise and shine, for your light has come.
Lift up your eyes and look around.
Praise the God of promise and light and love.
Praise the God of the guiding star.
From “The Abingdon Worship Annual” edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright Abingdon Press.