January 7, 2024

A Worship Resources for 
the Center for Faith and Giving

Isaiah 60:1-6   

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

 Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

On this first Sunday of a new year, here are some suggestions for engaging a variety of senses as you open worship.

1) Use “glow in the dark” stars, charged up, so they’ll shine.  
     One for each person?  One for each child?  
     An array at the front of the sanctuary?

2) Provide “star gifts” – star shapes with one word on each one, which can be passed to the congregation for them to choose one and see how the new year helps bring that word to full meaning in each person’s life.
(check out “Epiphany star words” on-line for more info).

3) Chalking the doorway of the church building and of your home.
This year, the marking is: 20 + C + M + B + 24 (the century, traditional initials of the 3 magi, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, and the year, linked with “plus” signs. 
Interestingly, CMB also symbolizes the phrase Christus mansionem benedicat (translated, it means “may Christ bless the house.”)



Call to Worship  (from Isaiah 60)

One:  Stand up and SHINE!  For your light has come.
Many:  The glory of the Lord sets us ablaze with Light!
One:  Lift up your eyes and look around.
Many:  Now is the time to see and be radiant!
One:  It’s time to rejoice, for God is at work.
Many: Now is our time to look up!  Light up!  
 All: Let us worship the Lord our God!

Opening Prayer  

Sheltered here, though still in the midst of so much difficulty and death , God, we rejoice in the Light which came into the world in Jesus.
Help us focus our minds and put our energy into worship. 
Renew in us a desire to rejoice as we remember the shining star, 
leading long-distance travelers to find Jesus, long ago.
May the Light of that life continue to lead us to find and follow 
the Christ who is Light of the world.  AMEN

Moment for Stewardship  (from Matthew 2)

The old joke goes like this:  “You can be sure it was a group of MEN who came to bring these gifts to baby Jesus:  gold, frankincense and myrrh.
If women had made the trip, they would have brought diapers, casseroles and helpful advice for a first-time Mom.”

For today, I’m asking you to indulge me.  
Now, let yourself imagine you as one of the magi.   
That makes all of us gift-bearers!  
On this first Sunday of a new calendar year, what gifts are you bringing?

(if you have time/energy, you could ask each one to write a gift s/he will offer in this new year. Someone with a Cricut could create them.)

Imagine what can be done with the gifts you offer today.  
The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus can be shared as we __________
(name one or two ways your congregation will use the morning offering).

With joy and energy for all this new year offers, let us receive our morning offering.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Ever-giving God, thank you for this new calendar year! We’re grateful to begin 2024 with thanksgiving.  Help our gratitude for your many gifts translate into actions of sharing our gifts, acting with generosity and care, beginning with this offering.  We pray you will receive these gifts, help us use them wisely and rejoice in the Light which spreads because of the positive ways we offer our gifts today and in the days to come.  AMEN

Invitation to Communion  

Jesus’ birth story in Matthew comes just before today’s text of the visit of the wise men/magi/astrologers.  While we don’t have a time-line, Matthew reports it was some time after the birth by the time these travelers arrived at the house where Jesus and Mary were.  Perhaps the visit was short enough Mary did not even offer food to these travelers before they “left for their own country by another road”.

For over 2000 years, table fellowship has been part of what connects Jesus’ followers.  At this table, all are welcome.  At this table, there’s a place for you, whether you are a stranger in town for just a short time, you’re physically far removed from this sanctuary and connected via cyber-space, or you’ve been part of this congregation your whole life long.

Wherever you are sharing in a simple meal, remembering Jesus, may you, too, be overwhelmed with JOY…for the glory of the Lord is setting us ablaze with LIGHT.  We have seen the light of Jesus, and we come to pay him homage.  

Come!  The table is spread and the feast awaits!