Bulletin – January 9, 2022 Epiphany – Zoom worship Service
Rev. Anne Hepburn
WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE LANDS
We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishnabeg/Mississauga peoples with whom Treaty 20, Williams treaty, was signed, on the lands where I am, and we acknowledge also and give thanks for the lands and people of treaties and unceded territories of all who are worshiping. It is up to all of us to live into truth, respect and reconciliation with all our relations.
HYMN: VU#79 “Arise, Your Light Is Come” (Words: Ruth Duck)
CALL TO WORSHIP
The wise men saw the star in the east and followed it trusting they would find God.
We gather here today with the same trust that we too are finding God.
Moving past fear and doubt they followed the star until it stopped right over the place where the Christ child was.
We come hoping to move past our fear and push beyond our doubts so that we, too, might find the Christ among us.
Upon finding him, they offered their finest gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
We bring our best gifts too, knowing that in God’s presence they will be transformed and so will we.
Written by Catherine Tovell Gatherings 2021-22 p. 40. Used with permission.
Arise, shine, and let the light of God be with you.
Be with us O God, and share with us your light on our path.
Be a beacon of light and hope in a world that is immersed in shadows and despair.
Be among us O God and shine a light on our path.
Let the light of the star in the east remind us that we can find God’s direction for our lives if we only look.
Be with us O God. Amen
Written by Bill Steadman Gatherings 2021-22 p. 41. Used with permission.
While we can’t take up the offering as we used to, we very much appreciate your generosity.
Let us pray.
Gracious God at this time of Epiphany we are reminded that being the church is more than simply worshipping together. May we share our gifts with the wider community so that Christ is revealed to the world through our actions. Amen
FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART: What does Epiphany mean?
HYMN: VU #81 “As with Gladness Men of Old” (Words: William Chatterton Dix)
Old Testament – Isaiah 60:1-6 Arise, shine for your light has come.
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
3 Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,[a]
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
New Testament – Matthew 2:1-12 The visit of the Magi
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men[a] from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,[b] and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah[c] was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘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[d] my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men[e] and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 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.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,[f] until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped,[g] they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 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. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
HYMN: VU #87 “I Am the Light of the World”
MESSAGE: Epiphany Revelations
Many years ago I read a couple of books by an American author who detailed the lives of women in the south. I wish I could remember the titles because I think many of you would connect with their life stories.
One particular aspect that really sat with me was the women’s revelation of the divine in their children. The women were all part of the same Roman Catholic church and had attended the catholic school system.
Their recollection of school and church was that the pre-eminent theme of sin. Yet when they delivered their new born babies they had a revelation- there could be no sin in those precious creatures. Not as they were then anyway. The mothers all recognized that their children would grow up and learn a lot; they would not be perfect and life might batter them but as new arrivals, they were sin free. Because my personal history does not include the kind of schooling and the culture of sin that theirs did, I was taken aback. But then I remembered that some of my neighbourhood families were Catholic and you could tell what age and grade they were by when they started calling everything a sin. It truly saddens me that the doctrine of sin is so strong that people struggle to reconcile their church teachings with the existence of a precious new baby. What the women were seeing is what I believe most of us see in our families and our creatures. That sense of perfection and vulnerability is precious. No wonder the Magi arriving to see Jesus for the 1st time were so moved by him. Truly only divinity could emanate from such a pure young soul!
Epiphany is a specific season in the Christian Church.
It marks the end of the Christmas season and is the bridge between Christmas and Lent which starts in early March. So it is a 2 month long season in the church. Yet it is curiously not well known even though it is important.
Epiphany means manifestation and is intended to reflect the appearance or recognition of the divine in Jesus. Firstly by the magi then followed up much later during Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptizer and then his 1st miracle at the wedding in Cana. Because of the way our liturgical season unfolds this 30 year odyssey is covered in a few weeks!! In fact if I were not covering Epiphany today I would be talking about Jesus’ baptism. Things tend to move quickly in our church seasons.
I find that it is difficult on occasion to connect such weighty ideas and topics to our every day life. I think we might underestimate the potential to see the divine around us for example.
But something a friend and colleague some years ago told me about years ago helped open my eyes and ears.
She said that there were “God moments” happening all around her when a flight was delayed significantly by bad weather. She observed passengers looking out for folks who did not have the means to take a taxi to the local hotel or who might be eating alone or needing to call family to alert them to the delay. I found her observations and awareness quite touching and helpful- this was early in my student days when I needed the support and insights of wise ministry people.
So one of our ways of discovering the divine is to watch- see what is happening and what is not.
Whose needs are being met and whose are not.
Another way is to listen –to children playing or telling stories, for example.
Or to music = often a transcendent experience. If you are ever at a concert you will see people with eyes closed or unfocused, taking it in. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of music-classical, rock or children’s music (although the energy of the kids is pretty wild).
Whenever my grandson is inconsolable we play RAFFI! For some reason that works! And frankly I love it too!
Do you recall Raffi? He was one of my favourite children’s performers because he talked to them and sang to them as people. His themes and music were fun and funny, respectful and engaging. Not once did I feel that he talked down to them.
That made me think- I wonder if Raffi thinks he connects to the divine when he sings and writes music? Too often I imagine that we may discount the experience and gifts of an artist or performer.
Remembering that many musicians feel called to their craft as surely as any other career might be a siren call: medicine, law, social justice, teaching; it is not a job; it is a necessity, a deeply felt and honed craft, that cannot be ignored.
Perhaps the greatest meditation on how art serves the soul came more than a century earlier, in 1910, when legendary Russian painter and art theorist Wassily Kandinsky (December 16, 1866–December 13, 1944) published Concerning the Spiritual in Art (free download | public library) — an exploration of the deepest and most authentic motives for making art, the “internal necessity” that impels artists to create as a spiritual impulse and audiences to admire art as a spiritual hunger.
Kandinsky’s words, penned in the period between the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the consumer society, ring with remarkable poignancy today. He begins by considering art as a spiritual antidote to the values of materialism and introduces the notion of “stimmung,” an almost untranslatable concept best explained as the essential spirit of nature, echoing Tolstoy’s notion of emotional infectiousness as the true measure of art. Kandinsky writes:
[In great art] the spectator does feel a corresponding thrill in himself. Such harmony or even contrast of emotion cannot be superficial or worthless; indeed the Stimmung of a picture can deepen and purify that of the spectator. Such works of art at least preserve the soul from coarseness; they “key it up,” so to speak, to a certain height, as a tuning-key the strings of a musical instrument.
Next week I will be reading a text about spiritual gifts from 1 Corinthians: it fits the theme of Epiphany as it details the appreciation for the diversity of our talents. I look forward to considering where and how we discover the divine around us this season.
And I invite you all to take a closer look at the world around you as we move forward. Look for the divine in everyone you meet and everything you do. Look for the divine in the actions and gifts of people; workers, leaders, artists, writers, musicians and those who receive and revel in the beauty of their offerings. And lest you need reminding- seek out the divine in yourself- it’s still there and still precious. Amen
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
When the Magi needed a new path God sent them a dream.
When you need a new path God will send you dreams and inspiration too.
This is God’s promise.
Will you open your heart and mind to receive it?
In the silence of our hearts let us share with God our longings and our challenges and the places in our lives where we need new paths.
O generous God, as we look back on the year just passed we know that we may have missed paths that you were opening to us; perhaps because we were overwhelmed or afraid, perhaps because we did not have enough hope, peace, joy and love.
May the courage and wisdom of the magi be ours in this new year.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
The magi followed a star on a long difficult journey.
They had to push aside their fear and doubt. They were cold and weary.
Their story reminds us that we too can make the long difficult journey even with our doubt, fear and weariness because God is travelling along with us. We too can choose new paths and find the hope, peace, joy and love we need in God. Amen
Written by Norah Laverty Gatherings 2021-22 p. 41. Used with permission.
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.
COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING
Go out to the world as Christ would have you to serve others with renewed appreciation for his wisdom and example. And as you go may the love of God be with you always.
CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go now in Peace” (Words: Don Besig and Nancy Price)
DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH
Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5