The Scottish Episcopal Church - United diocese of Glasgow and Galloway
Welcome to OoF in 2021 - a place where we can keep our faith together as we are at home and as we gather in church online and in our buildings.
For each of the OoF leaflets you receive there will be the opportunity to share your reflections and creativity here on our website as well as on our FaceBook pages. Sharing the faith together we grow in our understand of God and each other. Any images and words you send in will be put onto the pages here so that we can all share together in OoFing in the times of challenge during the 2020 COVID pandemic when we are not able to meet in person face to face and keep our faith in the ways we have done in years gone by. Pleas do join in.
THE EPIPHANY - starting 6 January 2021
The season is introduced to us in "Exicitng Holiness" in these words...."The subtitle in the Book of Common Prayer of this, one of the principal feasts of the Church, is 'The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles'. This emphasises that, from the moment of the Incarnation, the good news of Jesus Christ is for all: Jew and Gentile, the wise and the simple, male and female. Nothing in the Greek text of the gospels indicates that the Magi were all male and even the number three and making them Kings is a much later, non-scriptural tradition. The date chosen to celebrate this feast goes back to the placing of the feast of the Nativity of Christ in the winter solstice: the north European pre-Christian tradition of celebrating the birth of Sun on 25 December differed from the Mediterranean and eastern tradition of having 6 January as the Solstice. As often happens, the two dates merged into a beginning and an end of the same celebration. The western church adopted 'the twelve days of Christmas' climaxing on the eve of Epiphany, or 'Twelfth Night'. The implication by the fifth century was that this was the night on which the Magi arrived. The complications of dating became even more confused with the changing in the West from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar, the eastern church refusing to play any part in such a radical change. So this day remains the chief day of celebrating the Incarnation in Orthodox Churches.
The Collect for Epiphany
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. AMEN.
The Old Testament reading for the Feast
A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 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. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
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. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 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.
This is the word of the Lord. Isaiah 60. 1-6
The New Testament Reading
A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians.
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles -- for surely you have already heard of the commission of God's grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
This is the word of the Lord. Ephesians 3. 1-12
The Gospel Reading
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.
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.' "
Then 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.
This is the gospel of Christ. Matthew 2. 1-12
My contribution to the OoF entitled, Wake Up!
The activity was to create a shape, decorate it and add a word or phrase to remind me of where I want to be in the year ahead.
As you can see, two rainbows are pushing the star towards the centre to lie on top of the world (map of Europe at its centre).
These rainbows resonate with all of us, the NHS and all front line workers, lifting our spirits against a background of fear and uncertainty. A community effort of hope.
‘Wake up!’ says a lot to me and what I have learned about myself over the year. To be thankful, to live in the here and now, rather than overthink the future and dwell in the past. Not to allow my ego to get in the way. To see Christ in everyone.
To take what I have learned from the pandemic and wake up. Not to take the world for granted, to play my part in taking care of the community and the environment, to help place the star where it needs to be.
When I was reflecting an praying about where I wanted Christ to draw me to in 2021, I realised that it was to peace and reconciliation. This is partly how I interpret the Christmas message and partly how I feel about the world just now, including the deep divides in our country. But most of all, it was an awareness that I want to work towards greater reconciliation in my own heart - for the grace to let go of resentments, rivalry and anything that disrupts a harmonious relationship with others. So I found an image of a dove online and wrote on it some key texts fro Scripture about peace with the key request 'make me a channel of your peace'.
As I approach my Epiphany OoF I am reminded that the Magi were drawn to the Christ-child via nature. They were drawn to follow a star, an unknown object in the skies that had a magnetism for them, that intrigued them, that attracted them. They didn't know what it was but they did know it had something to do with an important person - they didn't kow anything about the person they just set out in faith.
As I find myself at the start of 2021, my pretty aweful cut out star has been stuck to the skylight edge of my attic window where most of my days seem to be spent at the moment. It is a place where my laptop and webcam stay permanently set up and I have an improvised desck space, altar clothes and chalices, along with candles, bibles and prayer books.
I want to learn from the Magi 'to look up', rather than an endless looking down at my laptop screen - I want to look out to see where Christ is calling us to be his church at work in the year ahead.
My two images show my star and its location in my attic - as you can see I am a bit messy as well (Stephen is not allowed up here!) The words I wrote on my star are "Can this really be?" with question marks on each of the points of the star. For me life is full of questions as we beging 2021, and as I have been launched into serving in the diocese in a anew way as Dean I have an ever streaming selection of questions coming my way. But I do have to admit that as I look up at my star while I type these words I do have a sense of anxiety and worry and concern for the year ahead, maybe I shall pray for some of that sense of drive/anticipation/adventure/dedication that the Magi had as I step into the days of 2021.
who caused the star to beckon the Magi to Jesus,
send a sign to me,
and beckon me forward into the new year
to encounter the Christ afresh
in this year which feels full of apprehensions.
Come Lord Jesus
and make yourself recognisible in your people
at the breaking of the bread. Amen
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