(the Sunday before Epiphany on January 6th)

See also prayers for the New Year and resources for a focus on Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Bible readings

Jeremiah 31:7-14: A promise of God’s restoration for God’s exiled people in which God commits to bringing God’s people back to their home, including the disabled and blind, and mothers who are expectant or in labour.
OR Sirach 24:1-12: Wisdom speaks of how she filled all of creation, but then God commanded her to make her home in Jerusalem and to take Jacob as her inheritance.
Psalm 147:12-20: An exhortation for God’s people to praise God because has blessed them and made them secure. God commands the forces of nature, but also proclaims God’s word to God’s people. (*)
OR Wisdom of Solomon 10:15-21: Wisdom delivered God’s people from their oppressors, leading them through the Red Sea. And Wisdom puts clear words into the mouths of infants, and those who can’t speak.
Ephesians 1:3-14: We have been blessed in Christ because we have been redeemed and forgiven and made to be God’s children. God has revealed God’s plan to us, to make the universe one and whole, and has given us the Spirit as a down payment on our inheritance.
John 1:(1-9), 10-18: The pre-existing Word, who was with God and is God, became flesh and dwelt among us, revealing God’s grace and glory to us and giving us the power to become God’s children.
(Bible summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

(*) inclusive language in the Psalms – reflections by Fr Michael and Christine Robinson)


Opening words
Celebrate God’s grace!
How comforting it is to know God always accompanies us.
Approach God in awe!
How amazing it is to consider that God has created each of us and each star in the heavens.
Praise the living God!
How good it is to sing praises together.
(Source: Ana Gobledale, Worship Words)

Opening words
Praise the Holy One!
How good it is to sing praises to our God.
For God is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
God heals the broken-hearted.
God binds up their wounds.
God determines the number of the stars.
God gives to all of them their names.
Great is our God, and abundant in power.
Sing to God with thanksgiving.
Praise the Holy One!
(Source: Ana Gobledale, Worship Words)

Psalm 147 – Mother of All Creation
It is good to sing praises to you,
Mother of all creation.
And to recognize the touch of your love.
You bring us home, help us heal,
You love your creation
You call every one of your stars by name.
You bless the young, the poor, the ill
You wait forever for the lost to turn to you.
Your love is music to our hearts, and we sing.
You are in the clouds that darken the sky
You send the rain which gives us life.
The cycles of the seasons and the growth of the plants
are your delight.
You provide food for the wild animals
even the young ravens when they cry.
You love the horse’s proud strength
and the athlete’s prowess.
You crave our love and attention.
And so we pray.
We give thanks for life, for children, for the beauty of the snow
that lies soft in the morning.
We give thanks for the storm,
the hail, scattered like popcorn on the grass.
We are in awe of your power.
When the seasons turn, the growing warmth
reminds us of your warmth
The flowing waters remind us
of the life which comes from you.
Thank you, Mother of us all, help us
to keep your love in our hearts and to love your creation.
(Source: Christine Robinson, Psalms for a new world)

Brightly shining star
drawing wise men from the east
portends a new realm.
Gold, frankincense, myrrh
offered in homage to one
born to disrupt us.
The wise men depart
warned in a dream to go home
by another road.
Likewise warned by night
Joseph, Mary and child flee
paranoid Herod.
These refugees lived
Safely and free in Egypt
not in detention.         (c) Jeff Shrowder, 2015

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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