Monday, December 28, 2020

A different road - a liturgy for Epiphany in a season of pandemic

Texts: Isaiah 60: 1-6; Psalm 72:1-7:10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

Call to Worship

L: This past year, we found ourselves

on a different road,

P: yet we still look for that Baby

born long ago in Bethlehem.

L: This year, we are worshiping

in different ways,

P: yet we still look for that

Child of Christmas

who gifts the needy with hope,

who sets free the oppressed.

L: This year, we gather

in different places,

P: yet we still long to find

the One who has come for us,

even as we remain apart

from those we love so much.


Prayer of the Day

Shaper of stars

we know by name

and those we have numbered,

you call us to travel

different roads than

we expect:

to walk with the forgotten

down that road

which leads to justice,

and to follow them

rather than trying

to show them the way.


Bright morning star

of every morning,

you would illuminate

those new roads

you want us to travel:

the neighborhoods potholed

by poverty’s heavy trucks,

the communities where

the cries of the vulnerable

are drowned out by the shouts

of the wealthy at expensive gatherings.


Wisdom which can teach us

different ways of living,

of loving, of caring,

you would have us reach out

to those who have known only indifference,

and to open our eyes

to see the isolated and lonely

so we can gather them to our hearts.


In these times which seem

when we long to turn around

and go back to the way it used to be,

you call us to continue

to travel down different roads,

God in Community, Holy in One,

even as we pray, saying,

(The Lord’s Prayer)


Call to Reconciliation

We find it so easy to walk down the familiar roads of foolishness, turning our backs on those God would have us love, and ignoring the map God gives us.  As we speak of our choices, let us open our hearts to the One who offers us the hope and grace we seek, even if we don’t realize it.


Unison Prayer for Forgiveness,

   If we turned toward the Light you offer, Creator of stars, we would find the road you want us to travel.  But we are more comfortable on those shadowed streets of seduction we know all too well.  We can drive down the roads of rebellion with our eyes closed.  We continue to play hopscotch with hate and fear on the sidewalks placed along the paths of prejudice.

   Have mercy on us, Shaper of universes as well as our lives.  How foolish we are to continue to take the easy paths, rather than that road of justice, that road of hope, that road of forgiveness that are less traveled in these days.  May we be like those wise ones of so long ago, who found grace, salvation, and you by following that different road of faith which lead them to that Child called Jesus, who would guide them and the rest of us, from that moment on.  Amen. 


Silence is kept


Assurance of Pardon

L:  Open your eyes!  The Light has come to all of us, to each of us.  The Light of justice, the Light of love, the Light of life.

P:  This Light is not just for us, so we will carry it to everyone we meet, as we travel down the different road of faith in our lives.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen!


Prayer of Dedication/Offering

We could take the high road of self-righteousness



Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

L:  May God be with you, Advent travelers!

P:  May God be with you, as well!

L:  Now in these moments, lift your hearts,

     all who found their way to Bethlehem.

P:  We bring them to the Child born,

     who has come to fill us with grace.

L:  Wise travelers, little children, everyone,

      join in singing praises to our God.

P:  we have followed the Star to hope,

     and will take a different road home,

     the road of mystery and faith.


L: Chaos had laid out a path for you,

God on unparalleled imagination,

but you chose a different road,

   paved with the bricks of beauty,

   lined with majestic oak trees,

   right next to rivers flowing into oceans.

This gift, which we call creation,

was given to provide light

out of the emptiness of temptation,

   but we continued to live

   in those shadows we found

    so appealing and comfortable.

you sent women and men to us,

those ordinary folks who spoke

of your steadfast love and hope,

   but we continued to trail behind

   temptation as it led us further from you.

since you knew we could not find

our way back to you on our own,

you sent Jesus to us,

your servant of salvation.


so, with the wise as well as the foolish,

with those who know the way by heart,

and those in need of road assistance,

we sing of your grace and love:


P: Holy, holy, holy are you, God of the vulnerable.

    All creation delights in praising you.

    Hosanna in the highest!


    Blessed is the One who gathers the isolated.

    Hosanna in the highest!


Though he knew the streets

of glory like the back of his hand,

though he had played hopscotch

on the sidewalks of eternity,

when in your holiness, God of grace,

you called him to become one of us,

Jesus was willing

   to become a prisoner of sin

   so we might be set free;

Jesus was willing

   to travel another road,

   going to Calvary, so

   we could run with abandon

   into your arms of grace.


So, as we celebrate his birth and love,

as we start down a different road called faith,

may we understand that mystery revealed through him:


P:  Christ came, the morning star of love;

     Christ died, the night star of salvation;

     Christ arose, the radiant star of resurrection;

     Christ will come again, the constellation of hope.


We have traveled different roads

than we expected this year,

Star Maker and Bread Baker,

yet we have all been led to this Table,

where you send down your Spirit

upon the gifts of life and grace

and all who have gathered wherever they are.

Hope was broken on the cross,

but like this bread, it gives us the strength

to travel different roads

   as we seek justice for those who have none,

   as we challenge power to listen to the voiceless,

   as we stand with those who are cast aside.

Grace was poured out in resurrection love

and through the gift of this gup, it refreshes us

so that we can go down different roads

   to share meals with strangers in our neighborhoods,

   to welcome the lonely as close family,

   to continue to distance ourselves, so that

      one day we can embrace each other.


And when our different roads lead us to you,

gathered around your feast of love,

with all we have missed and lost,

all who have been ignored and dismissed,

all our sisters and brothers

from every time and from every place,

we will join in songs of praise to you,

God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.



L: Now, let us go into the world with our God,

P: taking the different road of grace

     to bring hope to everyone.

L:  Now, let us go with Jesus to care for others,

P:  taking the different road of justice

     to bring healing and life to the forgotten.

L:  Now, let us go to bring the Spirit’s light

     into the shadowed corners of isolation and fear,

P:  taking the different road of faith and confidence

     to walk with those who feel so alone.


© 2020 Thom M. Shuman