Wednesday, 31 December 2014

4/1/15 Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come

The Epiphany (Year A,B,C)

Welcome back to a little liturgy and thank you for logging in throughout 2014!  I would like to wish you all a very happy New Year and also a happy "Little Christmas" (an old Irish traditional name for 6th January).  The three kings that have been journeying across our living room have now arrived at their destination - rather surprisingly, as the camel is in a persistent grazing position!  I have provided answers to the Christmas quiz at the end of today's blog - I hope you enjoyed it.

Summary of the Liturgy of the Word

First Reading
Isaiah 60:1-6
Isaiah tells how Jerusalem will become a great city as "the glory of the Lord" will rise there.  Many nations and people will will come, bring gold and incense and sing praise to the Lord.

Ps 71:2,7-8,10-13. R. Cf.v.11
All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.
The psalmist asks God to give judgement and justice to the king and his son.  He shows confidence in God and says that "all nations shall serve him" and he will help the poor and helpless.

Second Reading
Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6
St Paul tells how he received God's grace through revelation.  He says that people before did not know the Good News but that now everyone has the chance to hear about Jesus and God's promises.

Matt 2:1-12
St Matthew tells the story of the three kings.  He notes that Herod's advisors refer to the prophet who predicted that a leader would come from Bethlehem.  The kings, guided by a star, go to pay homage to Jesus.  They have a dream that warns them against returning to Herod, so they go home by a different route.


The First Reading, Psalm and Gospel focus on the great leader that was to be King of the Jews.  Again we hear of light, brightness and stars.  This is central to the Incarnation.  The world was in darkness but now a light has come.
If we look at Paul's words we see that he says that the light has come for everybody: "it means that pagans now share the same inheritance".  This is also referred to in the Gospel, where traditionally the three wise men are representatives of the nations from afar and the gentiles (non Jewish people).
The key message from today's scripture readings is that Christmas changes everything.  The world that was full of darkness is now full of light (look back to last week and the words of Simeon). This light is for everyone and it makes new things possible.  We should try to look beyond physical time and geography to recognise that this light is here for all, in all times and in all situations.

Activities for Mass

Think of the three wise men:

1)  They were guided by a star.
2)  They followed what they had been told in a dream.
3)  They journeyed a long way.
4)  They chose to ignore harmful advice.
5)  They were filled with delight at the sight of the star.
6)  They fell to their knees when they saw Jesus.
7)  They offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Here are some things that we do in our lives as Christians:

1)  We are guided by scriptures.
2)  We follow our conscience.
3)  We journey closer to God.
4)  We ignore harmful things.  
5)  We rejoice at being able to recognise God in our lives.
6)  We worship God.
7)  We offer gifts of bread and wine and also offer ourselves to serve God.  

Choose three of the actions of the wise men and the three corresponding actions in your own life.  Draw them out in pairs below:

The wise men offer gifts for a king: gold, frankincense and myrrh.  It is quite likely that you will sing a hymn about this today.  Here are three of its verses.  

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
GOLD I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

FRANKINCENSE to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

MYRRH is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Gold, frankincense and myrrh are traditionally associated with KINGSHIP, PRESENCE OF GOD and DEATH.  Work out which goes with which from the words of the hymn and write it nearby.
Look out for these objects and ideas in the liturgy today.    

Other activities and resources

T.S.Eliot wrote a poem about the journey of the wise men.  It is quite tricky to read all of it but you might try to look at the first stanza and consider the sort of journey they experienced.  Of course, this is all imagined - we get very little information about the magi in the Gospel.  Why do you think this is?

Click link below for poem:

The Journey of the Magi

Answers to Christmas Quiz

1)  Gold - Kingship,  frankincense - deity,  myrrh - death

2)  The Annunciation (Luke Chp.1)
     Joseph's dream (Matt Chp.1)
     Zechariah (Luke Chp.1)
     The Resurrection  (Matt Chp. 28)
     Shepherds (Luke Chp.2)
     The Temptation in the desert (Matt Chp.4)
     Peter escapes prison  (Acts Chp.12)

3)  Matt Chp.1 Jacob,  Luke Chp.3  Heli

4)  "God is with us"

5)  The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father,  The Prince of Peace

6)  Quirinius

7)  venite adoremus

8)  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God.  

9)  Herod Archelaus  (Matt Chp.2)

10)  He came down to earth from heaven
       Who is God and Lord of all

Wishing you all a good start to 2015!


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