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Material and Liturgy for Epiphany Sunday - Year A
Isaiah 60:1-6, Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
"The God Memorandum"


READING:  Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
SERMON :  "The God Memorandum"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-epipsn.y-a 815
                    
   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.

   Parts of The Prayers of the People and the Prayer of Dedication 
   are taken from Nathan Nettleton (nathan@webtime.com.au)
   "Eucharistic Preface for Epiphany Sunday" as sent to the PRCL 
   List, 1999.

   Sermon Note and Source:  Today we begin the New Year with a 
   reminder of who we are and what is possible to us because of God's
   revelation to us through Jesus Christ.  "The God Memorandum", by 
   Og Mandino (Frederick Fell Publishers, Inc., Florida, 1975) is 
   written as a letter from God to us.  In it God is portrayed as 
   telling the reader: "You are my greatest miracle".  The 
   memorandum then outlines four life changing principles that the 
   author hopes every reader will take to heart so that the power 
   of these principles may operate in their lives.   

   A copy of the God Memorandum can be found at
   http://came2believe.freehomepage.com/printable.html


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* GREETING & CALL TO WORSHIP (from Isaiah 60:1-6)
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you
L  Arise, shine, for your light has come 
   and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
P  Darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness the peoples; 
   but the Lord will rise upon you and his glory will be seen upon you.
L  Nations shall come to your light, 
   and kings to the brightness of your rising.
P  Violence shall no more be heard in your land, 
   ruin or destruction within your borders.
L  The sun shall be no more your light by day, 
   nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night.
P  For the Lord will be your everlasting light, 
   and your God will be your glory.
           

*  INTROIT  (VU 412, verse 1)
   This is the day, this is the day 
   that our God has made, that our God has made.
   We will rejoice, we will rejoice, 
   and be glad in it, and be glad in it.
   This is the day that our God has made, 
   we will rejoice and be glad in it.
   This is the day, this is the day 
   that our God has made.

           
CHRISTMAS CANDLE LIGHTING AND PRAYER OF INVOCATION
VOICE  This is the day that the Lord has made.  We rejoice in all that God
       has done.  We enter into God's presence with joy and celebration,
       knowing that the one who was born in Bethlehem is even now being
       born anew in the hearts of those who love him.

VOICE  As the Wise Men sought him and found him by the light of the star,
       so we, following the light that God has given us, find him this day
       in the praise and the prayers, the and words and the actions, of his
       faithful people.

VOICE  We thank God for the Christ child and for the hope, the peace, the
       joy, and the love that his coming has brought to the world.

       -- Light the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Christ Candle --

VOICE  Let us pray:  Loving God, Emmanuel, as we enter into the new year,
       we give thanks to you for how you have blessed us in the past year -
       and for what you will lead us to in the days ahead.  Grant that we
       may walk with the one born in Bethlehem, and that our worship and
       our praise may bring to him, and to you, and to the Holy Spirit, 
       the glory and honour due your most Holy Name.  Bless this gathering
       of your people with your presence and feed and inspire us in body,
       mind, soul, and spirit.  Amen


* HYMN: "This Is The Day" (verses 2-3 and repeat 1)                - VU 412


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
- Welcome and Announcements    
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters     
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


MUSIC AND SILENT PREPARATION


CHILDREN'S TIME:  "The Wise Men Worship Jesus"
Object:   None
Theme:    The Reason For The Story
Source:   Self

Good Morning.....  Christmas Season is ending today - a new year has begun. 
What did you get for Christmas as a gift???    

You are all missing something....  Can you tell me what the most important
gift you and the whole world received???   The gift that the Wise Men
celebrated when they gave their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh???

The gift of Jesus - the gift of God's love and presence with us.  The story
of the wise men is told in our bible - because it celebrates the fact that
Jesus came not just to his own people - the people of Israel - but to the
whole world.  The wise men saw the star that announced this gift - and they
came and saw that Jesus was indeed special, that he was a gift of God to
everybody - and so they worshipped him - the very first people like us to
do so - and gave him gifts that would help him do his work in this world -
symbols of his greatness   Gold for his crown - Frankincense for the sweet
smell of praise due to God - and Myrrh - a symbol of his death - and
resurrection.

The wise men saw the baby Jesus - and in him they saw the wonderful gift of
God to all people and they worshipped him.  And that too is what we do -
because in Jesus we find all the wondrous gifts of life that we need.  


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
   Gracious God   we thank you for your gift of love   we thank you for
   coming to us in Jesus   and for the life you grant us   through his
   birth and his life   and through his death and his resurrection.  
   Help us to love and serve him   both now and evermore.    amen

   Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
   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 kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


* HYMN: "We Three Kings"
   We three kings of Orient are;  Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
   Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Following yonder star.
            
      Refrain
      O star of wonder, star of light,  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.
               
      Refrain
            
   Frankincense to offer have I; Incense owns a Deity nigh;
   Prayer and praising, voices raising;  Worshipping God on high.
          
      Refrain
               
   Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume; Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
   Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,  Sealed in the stone cold tomb.
              
      Refrain
                

A READING FROM EPHESIANS 3:1-12
   (NRSV)  This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus
   for the sake of you Gentiles -- {2} for surely you have already heard
   of the commission of God's grace that was given me for you, {3} and how
   the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a
   few words, {4} a reading of which will enable you to perceive my
   understanding of the mystery of Christ. {5} 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: {6} that is, the Gentiles
   have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the
   promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. {7} 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. {8} 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, {9} and to make everyone see
   what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all
   things; {10} 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. {11} This was in accordance with the eternal purpose
   that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, {12} in whom we have
   access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

L  This is the word of the Lord.
P  Thanks be to God.

 
ANTHEM:  "From A Distant Home"  (VU 89)


A READING FROM MATTHEW 2:1-12
   (NRSV)  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.

L  This is the gospel of our risen Lord.
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

           
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOD MEMORANDUM
Today we begin the New Year with a reminder of who we are and what is
possible to us because of God's revelation to us through Jesus Christ. 
Charlene and I will share with you a priceless little treasure written by
Og Mandino called "The God Memorandum".  The memorandum is written by
Mandino as a letter from God to us.  We first came across it when Sharon S.
brought it to one of the Thursday Night Bible Studies.  After reading it I
became quite excited by it's message and told others about it.  Carol B.
then produced an original copy of the book and lent it to us. 

Mandino, in his introduction to the book, suggests that if you really want
to get the full benefit of this note - that you should read it each day,
just before bedtime, for one hundred days.  This will allow  the message to
really sink in.  We can't do that here - but we can lend out the scripts
that Charlene and I copied to anyone who wants to have another look at it
in the days to come.  

Let us pray before Charlene and I commence to share "The God Memorandum".

   Loving God, our creator and redeemer, the source of our life and our
   support all our days, help us to hear your word in the words that we
   now share.  Bless each one here and lift up our hearts so that we
   may be all that you have created us to be.  We ask it in Jesus' name 
   -   Amen


   
THE GOD MEMORANDUM - "YOU ARE MY GREATEST MIRACLE"


* HYMN:  "As With Gladness Men of Old"                              - VU 81
                

THE GOD MEMORANDUM - "COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS"
            

* HYMN:    "Joy Is Now in Every Place"                              - VU 45
                

THE GOD MEMORANDUM - "PROCLAIM YOUR RARITY"
                    

* HYMN:  "Jesus Loves Me"                                          - VU 365
                

THE GOD MEMORANDUM - "GO ANOTHER MILE"
           

* HYMN:  "I Am The Light of The World"                              - VU 87
          

THE GOD MEMORANDUM - "USE WISELY YOUR POWER OF CHOICE"


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
We thank you O God for making us so wondrously and so uniquely, and for the
many blessings you have poured out upon us.  Thank you for the miracle that
makes us one of a kind and which treasures us above all things, for the
love that is so great that you would come among us as one of us and die for
us and rise again to show us the way.   Help us Lord to use the gifts you
have given us wisely, to seize the opportunity to go another mile, to do
all things out of love for you and for ourselves and for our neighbours.... 
Lord, hear our prayer....

Father as we enter into the fullness of this new year, bless us in our
homes and at our places of work.  Especially we pray you to smile upon this
congregation of your people and help us to prepare a banquet of your love,
a testimony to your care, and a witness to your healing and restoring
power.  Inspire us and help us to inspire others.  Lord hear our prayer....

Father - hear our prayers this day for those we have named, and even now
name, before you.  May  each person and each situation discover the fulness
of your love and the glory of your will....  (BIDDING PRAYER)....  Lord,
hear our prayer...

We pray to you and we give you thanks, O Lord,  through your beloved child,
Jesus, whom you revealed to the whole world as Saviour and Redeemer.  You
made him known first as King of the Jews to the wise men from the east, who
acknowledged his worthiness though they knew nothing of you beyond what the
silent stars could tell; but as those stars shed light on their path, so
today, the one they came and worshipped gives light to the whole world - to
your eternal glory.  May your light shine through your people this year to
the ends of the earth.  Amen.


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

   O God of the stars of night, accept the thanksgiving we offer on
   this joyful feast.  You are the one who fills our hunger with your
   word of truth and summons all who thirst to the banquet of your
   love.  And so we join the wise men from the East and humbly offer
   gifts at the feet of Jesus, offerings of prayer and praise to God
   who shows the glory of Christ in all the world. 


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Arise, Your Light Is Come"                      - VU 79


* COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
   Christ.


* BENEDICTION
Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Jesus,
and as this new year commences and continues
- may the light of God surround you,
- the love of Jesus draw you closer to Himself,
- and the power of the Spirit strengthen you and grant you joy,
both now and for evermore.  Amen.


* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2002 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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