From Christmas to Epiphany
(This video is from a different weekend than the one referenced in the blog).
We introduced this new song this past weekend at Valley Springs Church. I thought it would be appropriate as a part of the liturgy for the First Sunday after Epiphany which has historically been known as "Baptism of the Lord" Sunday. Though I didn't grow up celebrating the season of Epiphany, I have found it to be a rich and natural extension of the incarnation, allowing the meaning of Christmas to linger for many more weeks (not ending abruptly on December 26!).
The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in the western church on January 6, marking the end of the twelve days of the Christmas season. Epiphany is the third and final feast day of the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany cycle of the church year.
Epiphany is a Greek word meaning "manifestation, showing forth, revelation." This feast proclaims our faith that in Jesus, God is revealed to all people - not just to an inner circle or a chosen few, but to all people, in all places, and throughout all time. The Epiphany and the weeks following are a time in which we reflect on several "manifestations" of Jesus, as he was recognized as the Messiah (or Christ) by many different people.
Through Scripture readings on the Sundays after Epiphany we hear about Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (Luke 3:21-22) and the visit of the magi, or wise men, who followed the star to Bethlehem at Jesus' birth (Matthew 2:1-12). We share the amazement of the guests at the wedding party at Cana, as Jesus performs his first miracle by turning water into fine wine (John 2:1-11). And we see Jesus' glory shown to three of his disciples on the mountain, as he is transfigured before them in a blaze of light (Mark 9:2-8).
I hope this encourages you to consider celebrating the Epiphany season more intentionally. If you are a worship leader or involved in worship planning or if you simply want to engage more fully, I'm including some of the texts we used in our worship this past weekend for the First Sunday after Epiphany: "Baptism of the Lord."
CALL TO WORSHIP / Luke 3:21-22 (NLT)One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
RENEWING OUR BAPTISM / Directory for Worship (Presbyterian Church in America)We acknowledge ourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving his displeasure, and without hope save in his sovereign mercy.
We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God,
and Savior of sinners, and we receive and rest upon Him
alone for salvation as he is offered in the Gospel.
We resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon
the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we will endeavor to live as
becomes the followers of Christ.
We promise to support the church in its worship and
work to the best of our ability.
We submit ourselves to the government and discipline
of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace.
PRAYER / Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, 2002God, your voice moves over the waters.
Immerse us in your grace,
mark us with your image,
and raise us to live out our baptism,
empowered by the Holy Spirit
and the example of Christ our Lord,
in whose name we pray. Amen.
SONG OF RESPONSEBreath of God, Breathe / Words and Music by Paxson Jeancake, 2010
Holy in me, all that I need; righteousness, divine.
God now unseen, living in me; you raise the dead to life.
Breath of God, breathe; I want to receive everything, all you say you are.
Counselor, teach me; Comforter, reach me; Spirit of Jesus, fill my heart.
Breath of God, breathe; Breath of God, breathe.I know all is in vain when I try to maintain a strength that's not my own.
Come and fill me again with your Spirit within; remind me I am yours.
Remind me I am yours.