Monday, January 06, 2014


When I was a teenager, my brother and his wife sang in the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I loved going to their church on Sunday nights to listen to that marvelous choir sing marvelous songs of faith, hope, and joy. They used to have what they called, "cantatas," concerts around specific themes - like Christmas and Easter. During their Christmas cantata one year, they sang a song called, "When they saw the star." Upbeat and catchy, the lyrics included: "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy. When they saw the star, they rejoiced. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy; they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."

The Biblical account in Matthew 2 tells us that "they" were the wise men, the magi, that followed the star they had seen in the east (which is present day Irag/Iran) and were led to Bethlehem to the baby Jesus: "They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."

Today, January 6th, is the day that the church celebrates the arrival of those wise seekers to the home of the Christ Child. Epiphany. The revelation. The arrival of the star, the Light of the World, and those who seek wisdom, light, and newness of life.

This morning, I read two beautiful Epiphany prayers in a book entitled, The Book of a Thousand Prayers. Here they are:

God of gold, we see your glory:
   the richness that transforms our drabness into colour,
   and brightens our dullness with vibrant light;
your wonder and joy at the heart of all life.

God of incense, we offer you our prayer:
   our spoken and unspeakable longings, our questioning of truth,
   our search for your mystery deep within.

God of myrrh, we cry out to you in our suffering:
   the pain of all our rejections and bereavements,
   our baffling despair at undeserved suffering,
our rage at continuing injustice;

and we embrace you, God-with-us,
in our wealth, in our yearning, in our anger and loss.

     Jan Berry

we offer you the gold of our desire to love,
   even though our hearts are often cold;
we offer you the incense of our longing to pray,
   although our spirits can be luke-warm;
we offer you the myrrh of our frustrations and troubles,
   even when self-pity and bitterness creep in.
Receive and make good our gifts
out of your great love for us,
and grant that we, like the wise men,
may find some kneeling-space at Bethlehem.

     Angela Ashwin

Having seen The Star, having decided to live in Its Light,
I too am rejoicing with exceeding great joy.
May the light of the world dispel the shadows in all our lives.

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