January 3, 2021 • Epiphany of the Lord

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Just Before You Begin


Opening Song

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you, O God.
Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.


Leader: We now begin the celebration of the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord,
remembering how even distant travelers followed the Light of Christ.


Leader: ┼ In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen.

Leader: Peace and joy to you from God our Father
and from his Son, Jesus, who became a baby for us.
We love you, O Lord, and we thank you.
(The response is: We love you, O Lord, and we thank you.)

All: We love you, O Lord, and we thank you.

Leader: We gather together now
to remember Jesus' childhood and how he grew to be an adult.
One with all who celebrate his coming into our world,
let us now listen to God's Word and join in prayer.

All: Amen.


Leader: Together we sing in praise of God's glory!

Opening Prayer

Leader: Let us pray

Leader: God of joy and peace
you became a baby so you would know
what it is like to be one of us.
Help us to care for and love all the children of the world,
especially those who are poor and in need,
because you were one of them.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.




Reader 1: In today’s reading, we hear about visitors who came from far away to see the baby Jesus. We now do this action prayer together: May the Lord be on my mind, ┼
on my lips, ┼
and in my heart ┼
as we hear the Gospel today.
A reading from the holy Gospel of Matthew.

Reader 1: When Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem in Judea, Herod was king.
During this time some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and said,
“Where is the child born to be king of the Jews?
We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard about this, he was worried, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem.
Herod brought together the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses and asked them,
“Where will the Messiah be born?”
They told him,
“He will be born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet wrote,
’Bethlehem in the land
of Judea,
you are very important
among the towns of Judea.
From your town
will come a leader,
who will be like a shepherd
for my people Israel.’”
Herod secretly called in the wise men and asked them when they had first seen the star.
He told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child.
As soon as you find him, let me know. I want to go and worship him too.”
The wise men listened to what the king said and then left.
And the star they had seen in the east went on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
They were thrilled and excited to see the star.
When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him.
They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and gave them to him.
Later they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they went back home by another road.

Reader 1: When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
"Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage."
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel."
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
"Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

Reader 1: The Gospel of the Lord.

All: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel Video Retelling

Gospel Video Reflections

Reflections on the Readings

  1. We have a pop quiz for you today based on the Gospel reading: a) How many magi came to visit Jesus? b) What were their names? (Pause to discuss.) We bet you guessed that their were three, even though the original Greek Biblical text doesn’t say how many there were OR that they were men. It doesn’t even call them “wise men” or “three kings." That idea started later and became popular in Christmas carols, perhaps because they brought three gifts. Maybe you guessed their names were Gaspar, Balthazar, and Melchior (first assigned to them around the eighth century). But maybe there were more of them and maybe they weren’t all men! We’ll never know because the Bible doesn’t say. Some people think that if women came to visit Jesus they might have brought food for his parents and new clothes, blankets, or diapers for the baby. If you were visiting a poor family with a special new baby today, what would you want to bring them?
  2. Even though the skies were dark and life was really hard when and where Jesus was born, the magi didn’t let those things stop them. They paid attention to a light in the night sky to go where God wanted to lead them. Even if things are hard in your family or community right now, where is there a little bit of light, something that gives you hope or inspiration or courage or leads you to do something good?
  3. King Herod was jealous and scared when he heard about the baby Jesus. He didn’t want to honor him, he really wanted Jesus killed so he could stay the king. But the magi followed what their hearts told them from their dream and didn’t go back to tell Herod where Jesus was. When have you had a time when your heart told you what was the right thing to do and you did it?

* The visitors were called “magi”, which refers to a caste of Persian priests, astrologers who looked to the stars as guides (some of whom were women). We don’t know their place of origin, except that it was clearly from somewhere east of the Holy Land. The gifts they brought (aromatic gum resins) suggest Arabia or the Syrian desert as a possible place of origin. Learn more at this link.

General Intercessions

Leader: Now let’s pray together to God for what we need.

Reader 2: We pray for all those who don’t have a safe, warm, and dry home at this time of year,
especially families with babies and young children,
let us pray to the Lord.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader 2: We pray during this Christmas season
that we never forget that Jesus and his parents were poor
So that we share what we have to help others,
let us pray to the Lord.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader 2: We pray for all those who are sick,
and for all the doctors, nurses, caregivers and essential workers
who are caring for them, that they remain healthy,
let us pray to the Lord.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader 2: We pray for all those who are lonely or sad during this Christmas season,
that we can be Christ for them in their darkness,
let us pray to the Lord.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader 2: For what else and for who else shall we pray?

Lord's Prayer

Leader: Jesus taught us to call God our Father, and so we have the courage to say:

All: 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.

Sign of Peace

Leader: Let us now offer each other a sign of peace.

A Litany for Spiritual Communion

Leader: The response is: Lord, bring us closer to you!

All: Lord, bring us closer to you!

Leader: Lord our God,
we wish we could gather today with our parish community,
but we gather here out of love and concern for others.
You teach us that when two or three are gathered in your name,
you are there.
Together, we pray:

All: Lord, bring us closer to you!

Leader: Christ Jesus, you are present in a special way
when bread and wine are turned into your Body and Blood.
Since we cannot receive you in this way today,
We ask that you enter our hearts
so that we may receive you spiritually.
Together, we pray:

All: Lord, bring us closer to you!

Leader: Lord our God,
watch over your family
and keep us safe in your care,
for all our hope is in you.

All: Lord, bring us closer to you!

Concluding Rite

Blessing & Dismissal

Leader: Go in the peace of Christ.

All: Thanks be to God.

Closing Song

After the Service

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