Sunday, January 3, 2021

Epiphany Sunday 2021

Archived Video

 Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….


Opening Prayer (Isa 60, Ps 72, Matt 2)

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.


let us begin today’s worship



L: Arise; shine, for your light has come!

P: We are called out of our darkness into light.

L: Lift up your eyes and look around.

P: We rejoice in the gift of light.

L: Come let us worship the God of light and joy and peace.

P: We come to kneel at the cradle of the babe,

the light incarnate.


The First Noel 


Matthew 2:1-12

The Visit of the Wise Men

2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men 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, 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 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 my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men 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, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, 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.

The word of God for the people of God!

Thanks be to God!


Sermon: Take another Road

So, let us review today's Gospel…. how many were there….3?  It doesn't say that. Eastern tradition says there were twelve. What were they Wise men, Kings Astrologers…It doesn't say that?  It was about the 3rd century that they were considered to be kings most likely to fulfill the prophesy in psalm 72:11 “May all kings fall down before him.” Wait I know one many how many know the answer to what were their names…

“Melchior, a Persian scholar; Caspar, an Indian scholar; Balthazar, an Arabian scholar… many Syrian Christians name the Magi Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas… In the Eastern churches, Ethiopian Christianity, for instance, has Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater, while the Armenians have Kagpha, Badadakharida and Badadilma and many Chinese Christians believe that one of the magi came from China…”  It wasn’t even until the 8th century that they received names. 

“The Adoration of the Magi—i.e., their homage to the infant Jesus—early became one of the most popular themes in Christian art, the first extant painting on the subject being the fresco in the Priscilla Catacomb of Rome dating from the 2nd century. In the Middle Ages the Adoration of the Magi was often associated with two other major events of Jesus’ life: his baptism, during which the voice of God publicly declared Jesus to be his son, and the wedding at Cana, at which he revealed his divinity by changing water into wine. The three events, commonly celebrated on the same feast day, were frequently represented together in the monumental sculptures that decorated the churches of the period.” 

We three kings of orient are wrong we three wise men mmm …. astrologers…. sages…. mages…Magicians…. Maybe.  What do we know about these three guys who come from the east?  Well, we know they are described in the Greek as Magi these are men most likely of the Zoroastrian tradition an early Monotheistic faith that had its origins in pre-historic Iran that had influence as far as China and Japan.  “According to Richard Foltz the roots of Zoroastrianism emerged from a common prehistoric Indo-Iranian religious system dating back to the early 2nd millennium BCE”  

Does all this matter?  Are the Facts important…in this case no!  It is about the story, and the Journey.  We assume 3 Magi because there are three gifts given and so I am going to roll with that.

Melchior a Persian Scholar I imagine came from a Tehran his Journey would have been over 40 days this is a calculation done at 10 hours a day walking which is highly unlikely considering midday heat and companions and setting up camp and tearing down camp.

Caspar an Indian scholar I like to say he came from Madhya Pradesh India his Journey would be (at the unrealistic rate of 10 hours a day) 126 days and finally we have Balthazar supposed to be an Arabian scholar in that case he would have been the closest but if he came from the far east deep in china his journey could have taken up to a year and a half or more….

So, we have three men who are educated and read the skies for signs of things to come and omens of things to watch for they see something in the sky that foretells of the Child who is to be the king of the Jews and so the furthest one out sets off on his trek much before the others.  Therefore, as he went along, he must have told others what he saw in the sky and those that choose to believe him (as he was a figurehead of some kind) they followed him.  His party grew as he went along adding the other two figure heads as he journeyed helping them interpret what it was, they saw in the sky.

Ernest L. Martin describes the caravan this way as they had an audience with Herod;

These Magi came from the east bearing rich gifts for the newborn king. They could not have been reckoned as certain classes of sorcerers and confidence men who roamed the Roman world under the name “Magi.” Herod and all Jerusalem would hardly have been troubled by what they considered impostors. But if the Magi had come from the court of the Parthian kings who employed Magi in the religious affairs of their government, or from the respected Magus colleges of the east, then that would have been a different matter in the view of Herod and the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem.

In order to have an audience with Herod and for him to have members of the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of the Jews) to hear the interpretations of these Magi must show that they were held in high esteem by the people of Jerusalem. In their deportment, it was customary for the Magi to dress in magnificent priestly attire to indicate their professional status. In presenting themselves before royalty the historical records show that the Magi did this with pomp and circumstance. 4 In traveling or on official business in areas where their influence was felt, it was normal for the priestly Magi to proceed in a processional mode with various ranks of them appropriately positioned in the caravan. This must have been the manner in which they approached the city of Jerusalem to present their gifts to the newborn king of the Jews. This would account for the respectful attitude of Herod and the Jewish authorities to them.  

So, they all come bearing these gifts, for one who they believe is royal born. And so, there are theories as to what these gifts represent “The theories generally break down into two groups: All three gifts are ordinary offerings and gifts given to a king. Myrrh being commonly used as an anointing oil, frankincense as a perfume, and gold as a valuable. The three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.”  

I am sorry if there is disappointment here but I say, assuming the story is true, the meaning of the gifts are most likely just ordinary offerings for the birth of royalty.  So, imagine the shock when this entourage arrives at a simple country house and find an unassuming girl and her husband a carpenter. Can you imagine the shift there?

Can you imagine these High Priests who are revered by kings and leaders, who can interpret the stars and who respect the Hebrew scholars and religious texts: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for form you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” (Mathew 2:6) These studied men, these well-traveled, worldly, rich men find the simplest of people with a child that in no way will be brought up or trained to be a King as they have understood.

This is where, and why I have titled this “Taking an alternate Path”, you see in the meeting of the Christ Child their realty of how the world works, of how the stars align, of who is worthy of royal honors…it all shifts.  Reality is turned upside down and instead of saying well this can’t be…we read something wrong…this peasant cannot, nor never will be a King at least not in any way that they comprehend and yet they present their Gifts.

These men, I choose to believe, are humbled and awe struck, what has been their way of thinking and believing is shifted, a new reality is opening up before them and they have yet to see what it means.  The scripture says at just seeing the house they are overwhelmed with Joy.  Before they even get in the door something is happening, something physical and as they enter, they see the mother and child and they fall to their knees and pay homage opening their treasure chests and presenting their gifts.

This is not ancient hospitality nor the rules the world traditionally abides by, Andrew Arterbury, a professor at Baylor explains;

“Ancient hosts also were obligated to meet their guests’ needs by supplying them with necessary provisions. Upon their guests’ arrival, meritorious hosts fed strangers an initial meal and at times provided them with lodging without asking their guests questions about their identity or place of origin.

In addition, hosts would often provide them with water for cleaning their feet and with new clothes if they needed them. Then, after the guests had finished the meal, hosts finally were free to inquire about their guests’ identity, home region, and travels.”  

The imagery here is intensified when it is juxtaposed against tradition.  For one Joseph and Mary would never even anticipate a visit from a group as big and famous as these guys probably were and in no way could they even begin to provide what traditionally is given.  There are new ways of being beginning to be expressed before Christ message is spoken, Kings are bowing to peasants.  The host is being offered Gifts with no expectation of Hospitality.

The “wise men” are warned in a dream to take a different path home.  But they are already on a different path.  The meeting of the low born king, the peasant king, who overwhelmed them with Joy, to whom they knelt before expecting nothing.  There are no alliances made, there is no political or religious relationships established what was imagined to be a king has now changed the meaning all together.  They are on a different path.

After their dream they probably left in haste realizing that their lingering presence would arouse suspicion and place the child in danger...which it already had.  So, they journeyed the long journey home 40 days, 80 days, and a year to a year and a half.  All the way home they had to study and ponder what did this all mean.  How their understanding of the world could be so reversed by one child astounded and confounded them. They are literally taken on an alternative path through this intentional encounter with the peasant King.

A friend of mine, Judith Favor, shared a poem and some quotes on Journeying from Mark Strand’s; Chicken, Shadow Moon and More, and though this story is about a physical journey it becomes a spiritual journey for the 3 Magi and their entourage and for us.

A journey continues until it stops

A journey that stops is no longer a journey

A journey loses thing on its way

A journey passes through things, thing pass through it

When a journey is over, it loses itself to a place

When a journey remembers, it begins a journal

Which is a new journey about an old journey

A journey over time is different from a journey into time

An actual journey is into the future

A reflective journey is into the past


A journey always begins in a place called here

Pack your bags and imagine your journey

Unpack your bags and imagine your journey is done


If you're afraid of a journey, don't buy shoes 

I believe that part of being a Christian is telling the story. So how do we tell the story of Jesus.  Do we let the carols and the feasting and the gift giving become the story? No, we tell the story through Engaging the story and journeying with the story.  That means living the story of Jesus in our hearts and on the road.  You see many of us the story of the Magi can be relevant.  I actually believe for all of us if you just engage the story. Don’t worry about the facts.

You see our lives changed when we met a different understanding of Christ.  When, many of us learned, that not only could we be loved by God but that we are most enthusiastically loved by God, by Christ and that through the Life of Jesus we are taught how we are to Journey in this world.

We are invited to an alternative path an alternative Journey…it is not done in a day or a year but over many years over a lifetime.  As we are on our own Journey, each one unique onto itself, we discover that the Journeys and stories of Christ change in our heart, shift our perception and in return they will again change our Journey.

In many ways it doesn’t matter if this story or any of the stories are true for, we have chosen to live as a people of faith.  We have chosen to listen, study, and incorporate these stories into our lives.  We have chosen to take an alternative path, a path that in the end, leads us home, home to Christ, Home to Love and Home to our own selves.

So, on this the first Sunday of a new year I wish you a safe Journey.  May it be filled with wonder and awe, may God grant you a few surprises, and when difficulties arise know you are not on the journey alone reach out to a fellow traveler seek support from the people here around you.

Blessings and a very happy healthy year.


A call to prayer

Ever patient God,

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 to 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.

As People of Light we lift these concerns and joys to you now...


Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn



Anthem  The Queens came Late

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us


Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom 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 kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen


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.

Donate Here!


Doxology #778


Offering Prayer

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

and righteousness.

Celebration of Holy Communion

(Please if you have not already prepared elements for communion do so. Remember that even an English muffin can become a sacrament, even a cup of water or tea can become a remembrance of God’s redeeming love)


For Holy Communion this morning,

I invite you to lend Christ your table.

We recall that once a long time ago Jesus gathered with his friends in a room. Men, woman, children, free and slave, Jewish, roman, tax collector and priest all gathered as friends to celebrate a feast.

We do not know all the conversations that were shared. We do not know the menu of the day. Yet by faith we proclaim these words.

The Communion words sent to the church at Corinth.

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,

that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed

took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,

he broke it and said,

“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.

Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,

you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Sharing of the Elements

Leader:    Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.

Unison:    We are one in Christ in the bread we share.

Leader:    Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.

Unison:    We are one in Christ in the cup we share.

Prayer of Thanksgiving


Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace,

rejoicing that, by the very method of our worship,

we have embodied the truth that Christ’s love

is not limited by buildings made with human hands,

nor contained in human ceremonies,

but blows as free as the Spirit in all places.


Spirit of Christ, you have blessed our tables and our lives.

May the eating of this Bread give us courage to speak faith and act love, not only in church sanctuaries, but in your precious world,

and may the drinking of this Cup renew our hope

even in the midst of pandemic.

Wrap your hopeful presence around all

whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing,

and let us become your compassion and safe refuge. Amen


The office is open for regular hours

We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry




I am available for one on one virtual visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again one day, but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat, check in


God rest ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings


God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay

Remember, Christ our Saviour was born upon this day

To save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray

O, tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

O, tidings of comfort and joy

From God our heavenly Father this blessed angel came

And unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same

How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name

O, tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

O, tidings of comfort and joy

O, star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light

Born a king on Bethlehem's plain, gold I bring to crown Him again

King forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign

O, star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light

Glorious now, behold Him arise

King and God and sacrifice

Hallelujah! Hallelujah, worshipping God most high

O, star of wonder, star of night

Star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding

Guide us to thy perfect light

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay




Closing Prayer

Lord, we have listened to your word for us this day. We are grateful for the love of Jesus who takes our burdens and lightens our spirits. Be with us today as we leave this place. May we continue to place our trust in you, for it is in the name of Jesus that we pray. AMEN.


Benediction/Sending Forth

Arise, and go forth to shine for all the world to see.

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,

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.


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