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Monday, December 31, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings -- Wise Guys Visit Edition

Happy New Year!  How did you ring out 2012?  Did you actually stay awake till midnight?   Hopefully you are getting a bit of a restful day and week but Sunday is still going to come and so we should probably be like good scouts and Be Prepared!

Magi Travelling
As happens every 6 years or so, this year Epiphany Day is on a Sunday.  Mind you many of us read the Epiphany story every year anyway but this year the actual feast day is a Sunday (not that I will be having any feasting at my house on Sunday but I digress).  And the readings for the feast can be found here

As we get ready to consider the strange tale of visitors from afar, shall we pray (originally used as a prayer of confession):
In the light of the star…
we are forced to look at our lives more closely.Watching the magi arrive,
we are challenged to offer our own gifts to the child.As we look at our lives and respond to the challenge,
we confess that our lives are not what they could be, that we sometimes fail to live up to the challenge of being your people.For the times we do not go far enough, when we abandon the search for Your way and presence,
forgive us we pray.
…time of silent confession…Many times in our life’s journey we, like the Magi, come into the presence of God-made-Manifest. Because of that we know that we are accepted and forgiven and sent out again to continue the journey.
Thanks be to the God who travels with us. Amen.

 And how are you approaching the Epiphany Story this year?  Matthew leaves out so many details the tradition and our minds fill in.  Do we get "back to basics" and limit ourselves to what Matthew tells us or do we play with the tradition?

Magi Figurines at this church
Or maybe ignore the issues of who the Magi were and preach on Ephesians?

Or if you did not do a lot on light for Christmas maybe talk about the light to the nations in Isaiah?

And does anyone have a good children's time idea?  I remember once hearing one about a chalk blessing for the house but can not remember anything beyond that....

Share in the comments where worship preparation finds you this early in the New Year...


  1. I woke up at 10 to watch the ball fall in NEw York. Then woke up at 11 to haul myself to bed...

    AS for Sunday, well the "sermon" was written a couple weeks ago and the volunteers to present it were confirmed on Sunday when folks responded to my e-mail. Monologues of the "3" MAgi telling their story interwoven with We Three Kings.

  2. I am thinking of going with Anna and Simeon this Sunday. last Sunday was readings and carols.

  3. I usually only tell the magi story during lessons and carols, and never sing "We three Kings" (beside the theological mishmash, I can't get that rubber cigar out of my mind). But since Epiphany falls on Sunday...

    I'm not sure where I'm going. When I worked up the sermon/worship schedule back in November, I had a really great idea for the Matthew reading. I should have written it down. I know better! Hopefully, it will come back to me as I do my sermon prep- or even better the Spirit will tell me what She wants to say to my congregations this Sunday!

    My spouse had to be at work at 4 am on New Year's Day, so our big night consisted of going to dinner, him in bed by 8 and me in bed by 10:30. My main sort-of New Year's Resolution (I really don't make them!) is to write more during the week in preparation for the sermon.

  4. I'm with Ramona--that cigar has left a stale taste in my mouth. Besides, I think the carol distorts the story. That said, the challenge this year is weaving Tres Reyes and Epiphany together in an inter-generational and bi-cultural context. Anyone know the significance/meaning of Tres Reyes in the Latina/o culture?

    Am thinking of using "This little light of mine" as a base for the sermon and writing new verses that apply to our worshipping community of Hispanic New Mexican, LGBT, kids, former Roman Catholic.

  5. RevAlli - would love to know more about Tres Reyes, so if you uncover anything interesting would love to see it!

    Some notes from 2 years ago sermon seem to be particularly relevant this year. Not sure where this idea came from, so if it was origianlly someone else's let me know.

    "What is the difference between the ways the wise kings look for Jesus and the way Herod does? the difference between LOVE and EVIL is that evil deals in generalities, in masses, in faceless numbers, in genocide. Love deals in particularlity, in one at a time, at knowing your name and saying it out loud. (Evil distorts love by making you think that it is specific, so pay attention – when the spokesperson on the commericial looks you kindly but patronizingly in the eye and inquires “do you suffer from embarrassing body odor” - don’t jump up for a shower right then and there.)
    Herod, took specificity of love, and twisted it, making it evil by the order he gave years later. On his deathbed, he ordered one member of every household to be slaughtered so everyone in the nation would mourn at his passing."

    I'm not using this, though. I'm riffing off of Gord's monologues - let you know what happens, Gord!

  6. Oh, and heres the chalk blessing, from wikipedia, so fwiw:
    Chalk is used to write the initials of the three magi over the doors of churches and homes. The letters stand for the initials of the Magi (traditionally named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), and also the phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates as "may Christ bless the house".

  7. Here's more on the chalk drawing. We will chalk the door of the church. Everyone will leave with a small bag that has a piece of chalk in it and the directions. I'll bake a king cake for the children's sermon and explain the meaning. So many ways to go with Epiphany - one of my favorite festivals.

    Sundays and Seasons
    Blessing for a Home at Epiphany


    Matthew writes that when the magi saw the shining star stop overhead, they were filled with joy. "On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother" (Matt. 2:10-11). In the home, Christ is met in family and friends, in visitors and strangers. In the home, faith is shared, nurtured, and put into action. In the home, Christ is welcome.

    Twelfth Night (January 5) or another day during the season of Epiphany offers an occasion for gathering with friends and family members for a blessing of the home, using the following as a model. Someone may lead the greeting and blessing, while another person may read the scripture passage. Following an eastern European tradition, a visual blessing may be inscribed with white chalk above the main door; for example, 20 + CMB + 13. The numbers change with each new year. The three letters stand for either the ancient Latin blessing Christe mansionem benedica, which means, "Christ, bless this house," or the legendary names of the magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar).


    May peace be to this house and to all who enter here.
    By wisdom a house is built
    and through understanding it is established;
    through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.
    See Proverbs 24:3-4.


    As we prepare to ask God's blessing on this household,
    let us listen to the words of scripture.
    In the beginning was the Word,
    and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    He was in the beginning with God.
    All things came into being through him,
    and without him not one thing came into being.
    What has come into being in him was life,
    and the life was the light of all people.
    The Word became flesh and lived among us,
    and we have seen his glory,
    the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.
    From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
    John 1:1-4, 14, 16


    This inscription may be made with chalk above the entrance:
    20 + C M B + 13
    The magi of old, known as
    C: Caspar,
    M: Melchior, and
    B: Balthasar
    followed the star of God's Son who came to dwell among us
    20: two thousand
    13: and thirteen years ago.
    +: Christ, bless this house,
    +: and remain with us throughout the new year.


    O God,
    you revealed your Son to all people
    by the shining light of a star.
    We pray that you bless this home and all who live here
    with your gracious presence.
    May your love be our inspiration,
    your wisdom our guide,
    your truth our light and your peace our benediction;
    through Christ our Lord.

    Then everyone may walk from room to room, blessing the house with incense or by sprinkling with water, perhaps using a branch from the Christmas tree.

    From Sundays and Copyright 2013 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.
    Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #22868.

  8. I am using the Isaiah and Matthew texts on Sunday and we are having an Epiphany party after church with chalking the doors, a King's Cake and hot chocolate.

  9. Happy New Year and Merry (almost) Epiphany to the RevGals! Epiphany is one of my favorite days in the sacred year. I've posted an Epiphany reflection at The Painted Prayerbook, which includes a new blessing. I'd love for you to stop by; it's at Epiphany: Blessing of the Magi .

    Also, do you know that some folks celebrate Epiphany as Women's Christmas? In honor of the day, and as a gift for you, I've designed a brand-new retreat that you can use on Women's Christmas, or whenever you're needing a break! You can learn more about Women's Christmas and download the retreat by visiting this post at my Sanctuary of Women blog:

    Women's Christmas: The Map You Make Yourself

    Blessings to you!

  10. My Time with the Children this week will involve a flashlight in a darkened sanctuary. I am going to ask the kids if I give one of them a light, can they keep the light all to themselves, or does light want to be shared?
    Then I'll be preaching primarily Isaiah I think. Reminding them that the light that shines is not to be hoarded, but to be shared.

    Haven't heard of Women's Christmas before, so thanks for sharing that Jan.


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