Due to the current restrictions, there is not a service in church for Epiphany (Wednesday, 6th January) so we hope you will enjoy this online offering which takes about 20 minutes.
In the Western churches, the Epiphany (‘manifestation’) became an occasion to celebrate one element in the story of Christ’s birth, the visit of the far-travelled magi, understood as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. Matthew’s account speaks simply of ‘wise men from the east’; later tradition fixed their number at three, made them kings and recalled their resonant names – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. In this perspective, Epiphanytide is an apt season to pray for the worldwide mission of the Church. The feast of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, appropriately falls in the Epiphany season, as does the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In the Eastern churches, the Epiphany is, rather, the celebration of Christ’s baptism at the hands of John, when the heavens were opened and a voice from heaven declared Jesus to be God’s beloved Son.
The season of joyful celebration that begins at Christmas now continues through the successive Sundays of Epiphany, and the festal cycle ends only with the Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas). The child who has been manifested to the magi at his birth is now recognized by Simeon and Anna, when he comes to be presented in the Temple according to the Law of Israel. He is both ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles’ and ‘the glory of God’s people Israel’. But the redemption he will bring must be won through suffering; the Incarnation is directed to the Passion; and Simeon’s final words move our attention away from the celebration of Christmas and towards the mysteries of Easter.
A Prayer for Epiphany: The Collect
O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Hymn: As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold.
Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12. The Visit of the Wise Men
Either click the link below and listen to the Gospel or simply read it below
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, 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.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “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.’”
Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 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.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Anthem: Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar
The soloist tells the story while the choir sing:
How brightly shines the Morning Star! With grace and truth from heaven afar Our Jesse tree now bloweth. Of Jacob's stem and David's line For thee my bridegroom, King divine, My soul with love o'er floweth. Thy word, Jesu, inly feeds us, Rightly leads us, life bestowing. Praise, O praise such love o'er flowing.
Our Prayers for Today
Let us worship the Saviour with joy and make our prayer to our heavenly Father. The magi came from the east to worship your Son: Father, grant to Christians everywhere the spirit of adoration … Lord of glory, hear our prayer. The infant Christ received gifts of gold, incense and myrrh: Father, accept the offering of our hearts and minds … Lord of glory, hear our prayer. The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ: Father, grant an abundance of peace to your world … Lord of glory, hear our prayer. The Holy Family lived in exile and in the shadow of death: Father, look in mercy on all who are poor and powerless, and all who suffer … Lord of glory, hear our prayer. Your Son shared the life of his home and family at Nazareth: Father, protect in your love our neighbours, our families and this community of which we are a part … Lord of glory, hear our prayer. Father, we rejoice in our fellowship with the shepherds, the angels, the magi, the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and all the faithful departed. In your unfailing love for us and for all people, hear and answer our prayers through your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hymn: O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness
May God the Father, who led the wise men by the shining of a star to find the Christ, the Light from light, lead us also in our pilgrimage to find the Lord. Amen.
Epiphany Poem: T S Eliot – The Journey of the Magi