Epiphany- Written Service, Sunday 3rd January 2021


Welcome to the first Sunday service of the year 2021. Today is Epiphany, when the Magi were led by a star to worship the Christ-child. We welcome Rev Robert Frede who leads us in worship.

Opening Prayer

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.



The Readings

Isaiah 60: 1-6
Ephesians 3: 1-12
Matthew 2: 1-12

The Sermon, Rev Robert Frede

They are almost inseparable connected with the Nativity scene in our house: Caspar, Melchior and Bathazar – the three wise men, the legendary holy three kings from the Christmas story.

During Christmas time they came daily closer to the cradle with the new born child. And they are bearing precious gifts for little Jesus: gold, frankincense and myrrh. I remember me playing as a child with the Nativity scene at my grandparent’s home – I knew that gold was precious, but frankincense I only knew from church and myrrh: no idea what it could be…

Popular culture through the centuries made a fantastic story from this visit of the three wise men at the cradle. The three wise men got names – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar (= Christus mansionem benedictat) – and they were made kings as it seemed to be appropriate that Christ the king would be visited by people of the same royal blood. It was said that they were from three different parts of the world: Balthasar – the black one – from Saba (Ethiopia), Balthasar from Asia (that meant Middle East in those days) and Melchior from Europe. And of course they were in three different ages; boyhood, adulthood and an old man. All parts of the world, all ages of mankind came to Bethlehem to adore Jesus.

But even without popular culture is the story a very rich one.

The wise men are guided by a star.

Books are filled with intellectual discussions about this star or if there was a comet in the days when Jesus was born. But as often – Matthew knew his prophets – the meaning of the symbol comes from the Old Testament.

The prophet Isaiah said in our first lesson today:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

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 bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

There is an intense darkness is the prophecy of Isaiah, an absence of God.

And then: The Lord, the Messiah, is arising and all the people – even kings – are attracted by the shining of the new dawn. Jesus is the real – the true – Messiah, that is what Matthew wanted to show with his quote from the prophecies of Isaiah.

This Messiah is the redeemer of the world.
He did not come to give commandments of institutions to the world.
The long expected Messiah brings new light to the world. He lightens the darkness and brings light to the people, to everybody without any difference.
And there is something special with that light: It makes people moving.

The three men in the East start a long journey to find the source of the light. And it is a real search. They do not know the answers and do not know the truth. But they believed in the light of the star they saw in the dark sky and started their long journey.

I think it is very right to call them “wise” men. They realise that they do not know the answers on all their questions, but they dare to leave their homes and start their search.
The story tells something about the further life of Jesus too.

From his birth Jesus’ life is threatened by a violent death. The powerful, the scribes, the royal court of king Herod and his followers – they all are scared for their secure positions by this small human-godly child. They are scared from the beginning by the light that makes people moving from their traditional places.

The three wise men from the East told King Herod that they were searching for the new born King of the Jews. Their words will later be written on the top of the cross of Jesus in the royal – the holy – city of Jerusalem. The violent death of Jesus is already included in the story of his birth.

And if we look what we can do in our daily life with this famous and traditional story we could pick up this wish from the story:

That Jesus shall be our light in life – a light which keeps us in movement.

And we could decide to be a sort of mirrh to other people.

Mirrh – as I know now – is a well smelling sort of a rubber made from the plant. It was used in ancient days to prevent infectious diseases – the real “Haarlemmer Olie” or miraculous treatment – of the antiquity. That possibly could be our present to the new born child Jesus.
That we are mirrh to each other,
Healing, curing, taking care for our neighbours and the whole environment around us.


Intercessions for The Feast of the Epiphany

The Magi came from the east to worship your Son: Father, grant to Christians everywhere the spirit of adoration and that through their worship they may reflect the glorious light of Christ

Heavenly Father, you sent your son to guide your people, just as you sent a star to guide the Wise Men to worship him. We pray that you will send your Holy Spirit to guide our Church as we begin a New Year in the Chaplaincy. We know that this coming year will bring significant changes and we pray that you will always be present as we take one more step along the journey of faith.

(Short Silence)

Lord; in your mercy hear our prayer.

Lord God, as we face the start of 2021 we pray for your world. Let the star of your justice always shine in the hearts of those who are in authority. Enable all nations to recognize the sanctity of each and every human life in their care so that all may experience an abundance of peace and security. Most especially we pray that this year will see the end of the pandemic as the program of vaccination continues worldwide.

(Short Silence)

Lord; in your mercy hear our prayer.

Father God, Your Son shared the life of his home and family at Nazareth: we give thanks for his presence with us in our homes and in our lives. Guide us in our relationships with family and neighbours, especially those in trouble or need and bless those who have guided and enriched our own lives.

(Short Silence)

Lord; in your mercy hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for all those who have lost their way or have been led astray and for all who are living below their potential or their abilities. We raise before you all whose lives are unfulfilled and all those whose lives are restricted by illness; we remember the chronically ill, those in constant pain, the depressed and the despairing. We especially pray for those in our Chaplaincy who we may now name.

(Short Silence)

Lord; in your mercy hear our prayer.

Merciful Lord, we pray for all who are coming to the end of their journey here on earth and pray that they may come into your presence and kingdom. We pray for all those who have come before your face and now rejoice in the fullness of life eternal.

Lord; in your mercy hear our prayer.

Eternal God, as we go out into this New Year we ask for your loving presence with us to share in its joys and to strengthen us in its sorrows.

Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen 


The anthem and hymn

Anthem: O God, who by the the leading of a star – Thomas Attwood

Hymn: NEH 49 – Brightest and best of the sons of the morning

Lord God,
the bright splendour whom the nations seek:
may we who with the wise men have been drawn by your light
discern the glory of your presence in your Son,
the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord. 


The Blessing

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.