You are invited to share with us our first service of the New Year

Good Morning Wallneuk North.

I would like to wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year 2013.

Let me take this opportunity to welcome you all, at our Epiphany Sunday service. Please join us for a cup of tea, coffee and fellowship after the service.  

It is good to give thanks to our lord for a new year in our life.

2013 is a very special year for WNNC. The start of a new year can be a good time to start afresh, to feel, that we can face this year with God’s help and grace. 

Hall letting Paisley

Intimations

Lets us worship with our first Hymn: “Hark the heralds”

Prayer and Lord’s Prayers. 

Sharing together: What is an Icon ?

A curious question?   Last year I got a new mobile phone. It has a touch screen, not as posh as an I phone, but the best I could manage!! Needless to say it is quite clever. Computers and phones now nearly all work visually, using things curiously called icons, which is strange really, because this word is an ancient religious word in origin. When my phone wants to tell me something, for example: that I have a message. or that someone has tried to call me; an icon appears on my touch screen. If I can’t see the Icon I can’t see the message. Interestingly, one thing is missing from our nativity. That is Baby Jesus Icon of God’s message.

According to the writer of Matthew’s Gospel, wise men came from the east and the star stopped on the house, as an Icon, to tell them a special message. For all the Christians, and for Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, and for every disciple of Jesus; Jesus is the very icon to God. Whoever has seen the Son has seen the father.

Second Hymn: “O little town of Bethlehem

Young church leaves.  Reading Old Testament and New Testament Matthew 2:1-12

Third Hymn:"We three kings of orient are"

Sermon: In the name of the Father of the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Epiphany is a festival of light and enlightenment. Many years ago, Isaiah proclaimed this statement:: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you”.

An epiphany is from the ancient Greek word, “epiphaneia," it means manifestation, striking appearance" an experience of sudden and striking realization.

Generally, "Epiphany" means "to show, make known, or reveal." However, Τhe ophaneia means, revelation of God. That’s where our word Theology comes from. The knowledge about God, according to our church calendar, the celebration of Epiphany started, in the Eastern Church, in 361 AD, as a commemoration of the birth of Christ, and the visit of the three wise men, which is our focus today.

Christian theology sees Jesus as the revelation of God. It is by looking to Jesus, as the pioneer, and perfector, of our faith, that we learn, not only how to live, as humans, but also develop further relationship with God through Jesus Christ; as he said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus, in what he says, and does, keeps reminding us about loving, each other, loving God and keeping this channel of Love open for all—both ways: horizontal and vertical directions. Which means it is important to maintain a good relationship on both levels, man to man and man to God.

Today, being epiphany, is the time, we recognise something in Christ in a fresh way, to develop a special personal relationship with Jesus. It is the time when the penny drops—all made clear. We see clearly  what it is that we are looking at. The icon is put into place and the purpose is made clear. Yet in 1 Corinthians 13:12, St Paul says: “ Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then one day we will see Him face to face; Just as when one looks upon an object, openly and clearly.

All the biblical stories are moments of Epiphany. In this sense what we call the season of Epiphany is part of the season of Christmas. We get a series of other types of Epiphany moments: John the Baptist’s witness about Jesus, as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. That was an Epiphany experience for John.

For some, the teaching and the miracles of Jesus are Epiphany. There are so many other ways of recognizing the significance and importance of Jesus.

Each one of us here will have had moments of epiphany, throughout the journey of faith. Moments, when we have realized something important about God’s love. Moments, sometimes, surprising ones too.

The journey of the shepherds and the wise men from the East, reminds us that, the wise and simple people of the world must still journey, continuously, so that they can adore the Lord.

With the wise Men, humanity’s Epiphany and pilgrimage to Jesus Christ, begins – to the God who was born in a stable, who died on the Cross and who, having risen from the dead, remains with us now and always, as Emmanuel, means God with us, until the end of the world (cf. Mt 28:20). The Church reads this account from Matthew’s Gospel alongside the vision of the prophet Isaiah, which we heard in the first reading.: The journey of these men is just the beginning of Epiphany for them.

Before the wise men managed to see the baby in a house, came the shepherds, to see the baby in the manger – simple souls, who were considered ritually unclean and untouchable, yet they dwelt closer to the God, who became a child, and they could easily “go over” to him and recognize him as Lord even in the stable.

But now the wise and simple people of this world, are also coming to faith, as it is a spiritual journey for them all. Great and small, men and women, young and old, of all cultures and all peoples, are still coming in our 21st century to adore Him, as their Lord and saviour.

The men from the East are the first, followed by many more, throughout the centuries. After the great vision of Isaiah, the Letter to the Ephesians expresses, the same idea in rather sober and simple terms: the Gentiles share the same heritage (cf. Eph 3:6).

The wise men from the East opened up, the path of the Gentiles to Christ. This should be our mission, allowing for all the differences, in vocation and mission, inviting other people to share our Epiphany experience of Christ with them. We may well look to these figures, the first Gentiles to find the pathway to Christ.

The experts tell us that they belonged to the great astronomical tradition, that had developed in Mesopotamia over the centuries, and continued to flourish. No doubt there were many astronomers in ancient Babylon, but only these few set off, to follow the star that they recognized as the star of the promise, the star of the wonder and the star of the true light, pointing them along the path towards the true King and Saviour of the world. They were, as we might say, men of science, but not simply in the sense that they were searching for a wide range of knowledge: they wanted something more, something spiritual. They explored this promise of a saviour. They were men with restless hearts, not satisfied with the superficial and the ordinary things of this life. They were men in search of the promise, in search of God. They were watchful men, capable of reading God’s signs, his soft and penetrating Iconic language. But they were also courageous, yet very humble: we can imagine them having to endure a certain amount of mockery, for setting off to find the King of the Jews, at the cost of so much effort.

Still, it is a hard and dangerous journey for some people seeking the Lord today. But for the seekers it mattered little, what this or that person would say, what even influential and clever people thought and said about them. For them it was a question of looking for the truth and the saviour himself, human opinion is not important for them. Hence, the wise men took upon themselves, the sacrifices and the efforts of a long and uncertain journey. Their humble courage was, what enabled them to bend down before the child, even the child of poor people, and to recognize in him the promised King, the one they had set out, on both their outward and their inward journey, to seek and to know the Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. The Old Testament speaks of gifts of gold and frankincense being brought to Zion, and Psalm 72 speaks of kings coming, bearing gifts of gold, many, many years ago.

In the New Testament, a statement is being made about Jesus’ ministry, and about the church: the gospel is to be taught to all nations. This is a celebration of inclusiveness, reaching out to all, with the love of Christ. At every Epiphany, comes recognition, things slip into place, and things feel right once again.

We, the Christian Church is called to reveal this Epiphany to a waiting and expectant World. Let us renew and refresh our own faith and our relationship with our Lord, and enlighten our own minds, hearts, souls and share with others what we are celebrating today.

Let’s have a silent reflection for a few moments.

Fourth Hymn: "Bethlehem, a noble city"

Please remain seated as offering will be uplifted.

Prayer for offering and others

Fifth Hymn: "Wise men, they came to look for wisdom"

Benediction:

Now Go in peace and serve the Lord, may the grace of the prince of peace, and love of everlasting father and fellowship of the Holy comforter and counsellor be with you all now and forever more.