Our united service is at 11am at Linton on Epiphany Sunday. Please stay for refreshments after the service. Please note that there are NO services at Yetholm or Morebattle this Sunday
Call to Worship
Arise, shine: for your light has come!
The glory of the Lord has risen upon us.
Lift up your eyes and look around!
We shall see and be radiant; our hearts shall rejoice.
For the Lord will be our everlasting light and our glory!
And so we worship God in humble expectation.
Carol 327 – Brightest and Best
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Since the beginning, O Ancient of Days,
You have called people to follow. Inspiring humanity with moon and star, sun and rain, majestic mountain, fast flowing river, and with the very mystery of life itself, You have called people to be Your own.
In the simplicity of Your manger, Lord Jesus,
You drew people to Yourself; awe filled shepherds and exotic magi came to worship and to see in You the hopes and fulfilment of all their yearnings.
Like a light in the gloom, O Holy Spirit,
we see Your brilliance, feel our hearts warmed
and gain a sense of direction and purpose.
Forgive us, O Most High,
when we fail to see you in Creation, and so exploit and misuse the abundance of life with which we share the planet. Help us to learn, soon, O God, how to live in harmony with nature.
Forgive us Lord Jesus, when we seek fulfilment in other things and turn away from You. Teach us, quickly, O Christ that our restless hearts will only find their rest in You.
Forgive us, Most Holy Spirit, when we look for warmth and purpose in strange places instead of in Your all-powerful love. Forgive us, and give us time to change!
Hear good news: God’s love seeks us out at great cost. When we turn back to God we find that, like a father, God runs towards us with arms open wide in welcome. Like a mother, God surrounds us with fierce love. Like a rock upon which we stand, God gives us a secure foundation for life. So accept the forgiveness on offer, learn to forgive others, and find the strength to forgive yourself.
Readings – Isaiah 60: 1-6 (Pg 747)
Matthew 2: 1-12 (pg 966)
Carol – We three kings (MP 740)
We are reminded that the Magi came from the East to worship your Son Jesus. Father, grant us the spirit of adoration so that through our worship we may reflect the glorious light of Christ which has come among us. Amen
‘We three kings of Orient are’. These figures from the East fascinate us coming from afar with their flowing robes and exotic gifts to stoop in the cold stable to worship the baby Jesus. We give them names, Caspar and Melchior and Bathasar, and have grown stories around them, even saying there was a 4th wise man, even saying that there were the three wise woman. But we don’t know their names, we don’t even know how many there were. If they were important, they would surely have travelled in a caravan with their servants. Yet for Matthew they were so important that he has them adoring the Christ child. Here is what the poet T.S Eliot wrote of their journey:
‘Journey off the Magi’
There is so much in the poem, but maybe suffice to say it captures something of their mystique, that they were from another culture and had to make an arduous journey, led by a star. Kings, priests, more likely astrologers who noticed something strange in the sky and felt compelled to follow it, believing something momentous was happening. So they left behind their comfort, their sherbet and summer palaces, for a quest, a puzzle, from which they would return changed, transformed.
They were from the afar, and Matthew places them at the birth of Christ; Matthew who was sure to place Jesus in the genealogy tracing him back to figures of faith like Abraham, but who also has foreigners recognising his royalty and bathing in the light of the Christ child. The Gospel writer is saying that all are included, that the birth of Christ connects everyone. All people may claim Christ as king. It doesn’t matter how mysterious or plain or ordinary your background is.
But these travellers were also human, fallible, made assumptions. But then the star that they followed seemed to come and go. To be seen brightly one night, then the next be covered in cloud. So they went to the capital city, Jerusalem, for where else would someone born to be king be found? And so they spoke with Herod and set in motion the events leading to the awful massacre of the infant boys in Bethlehem. But in the meantime, Herod instructed his scholars to research into where a Messiah would be born, and their answer was Bethlehem. Martin Luther, the great Reformer, when asked why the star didn’t lead them straight to Bethlehem, said that it was to teach us that we should follow scriptures and not our own ideas.
The Magi were drawn to the baby, but what draws us to Christ? What leads us to seek his company? What brings us to worship on a regular basis? When we reflect on the wise men’s trek from afar, we realise that each of us has our own journey across life’s plains and deserts and hills to come face to face with our Lord. What is the star that leads us? For some it could be the Bible or it could be the words or a presence of a particular person who shared God’s love? Or it may be the life of selfless care as embodied in the Church. The Church can be many things. It needs to be a centre for worship and community service, a place we learn more about our faith and how to love. It needs to be a voice for justice and compassion in the world, but it also needs to be a welcoming place, where people are drawn to get to know Christ
When the wise men did reach their destination and met the baby, they were transformed. Matthew says that they didn’t return to Jerusalem but left by a different way. Eliot in his poem tells powerfully of their unease with the old familiar ways. An encounter with Christ changes us if we are but open to Him. An encounter with Christ demands a reaction. The Magi fell down on their knees and worshipped. What about us? Later in the service we will have our covenant prayer which we may use to dedicate ourselves at the start of a new year to another year of service, and with the wise men adore the Christ.
Carol 326 – As with gladness
Epiphany opens with the story of the Magi offering gifts to the newborn king. Our gifts today and throughout the year honour Jesus as Lord of our lives and Saviour of the world. We may not bring gold, frankincense and myrrh, but all our gifts are welcome to keep the light of Christ shining into the world.
Prayers of Dedication
God of majesty and mystery, we bring our gifts to you, grateful that you are always with us. We do not know what the year ahead will hold, but your love shines like a star to guide us. Bless these gifts that they may keep the light of Christ shining through the church to embrace the world you love. Amen.
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.'
Prayers of Intercession
God of the stars,
we gaze at the heavens in awe, we see the moon and the planets, satellites orbiting the earth, twinkling light from millions of miles away, we wonder at how the ancients navigated by these lights, and saw meaning in their movement.
We gaze and wonder if humanity is alone in the universe or if, in some far off corner, You’ve got other civilizations, other worlds that You care about.
We pray today for all who study the stars,
who seek to explore our solar system, and to increase our knowledge of the vast abyss of space.
God of the stable, we gaze at the nativity scene and struggle to take it all in. God in the dirt; animals attending like courtiers, smelly shepherds and exotic magi. We wonder at the danger of it all, the cruelty of the tyrant Herod, the protection of Joseph, the trust of Mary. We pray today for all who are living in danger, refugees and asylum seekers, the poor and hungry, those on the edge of our societies to whom the wealth never seems to trickle down, those struggling to pay their rent, mortgage or power bills.
God of the Scriptures, we gaze at the magi and wonder they trusted in ancient words and clear dreams. We are horrified that those who knew Your word turned to murder, whilst outsiders turned to worship. We thank You for the ways in which You speak to us, through ancient words and contemporary dreams, through the Church and deep in our own hearts. We pray today for those who search for You, in Scripture, stable and star, that You may be found and that we may be signposts pointing to You.
We remember in prayer this week the Leadership and church community of Bonnyrigg, praying for their shared youth worker Josh, for links with all the local churches so that they would be a bright light for Jesus in Bonnyrigg.
God of star, stable and Scripture, we pray now for all those we love and worry about
Hymn 235 – God is working his purpose out
May the light of God lead you,
the light of Christ embrace you,
and the light of the Holy Spirit enliven you
So that you know both hope and peace
this day and each coming day.