St Mary’s Sunday Service for 3rd January 2021

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastor, Rev Canon Alison Peden, for this service which we hope you will follow if you are unable to come to St Mary’s this Sunday


EPIPHANY   3 January 2021

   ‘For we observed his star at its rising,
    and have come to pay him homage’

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:     Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Father!
                   God be glory for ever!    Alleluia, Amen!

                   Glory to God, glory to God, Son of the Father!
                   To God be glory for ever!  Alleluia, Amen!

                   Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Spirit!
                   To God be glory for ever!   Alleluia, Amen!

Collect:   O God, who, by the guidance of a star, revealed your only-begotten Son to the nations: Grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at the last be led to see your glory face to face; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

Reading:   Isaiah 60:1-6   Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth,    and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Gospel:  Matthew 2:1-12 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
             “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means
               least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come
               a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Reflection:   On the winter solstice in December, Jupiter and Saturn aligned in an incredibly bright light – not that we could see it much
in the murk of winter in Scotland. 

Some people have been very excited by the thought that this might have been the same alignment as the great star that guided the Magi to the stable of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  However, given that the Magi came from the East, and that Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem, the star would have had to make a spectacular left turn …

We long for the world around us to have meaning – to give us clues as to what is going on. For example, crises in a story tend to be heralded by a storm. When life is puzzling and dark, perhaps the universe can give us a sign? We still talk about someone being a ‘rising star’, and Matthew assumed that the Messiah would be signalled by a real one.

For the most part, we journey without much idea of what is coming next.  Faith is a matter of hanging on to God’s hand and keeping our eyes open for those glorious moments when we know we have been shown something (‘God’s gracious smile’), even if we cannot explain it.

St Bernard of Clairvaux (d.1153) wrote a wonderful hymn with this verse:  (

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee
where’er our changeful lot is cast;
glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

Prayers:  The Magi came from the east to worship your Son: Father, grant to Christians everywhere the spirit of adoration, that through our worship we may reflect the glorious light of Christ.

Heavenly Father, you sent your son to guide your people, just as you sent a star to guide the Wise Men to worship him. Guide us as we begin a New Year, and be present as we take one more step along the journey of faith.

Lord God, may the star of your justice lead those who are in authority.  Bring all nations to recognize the sanctity of every human life in their care and to work for the peace, security and health of all.

Loving God, we pray for all those who have lost their way or have been led astray and for all who are living below their potential or their abilities.  We lift to you all whose lives are unfulfilled; the acutely and chronically ill; those in constant pain; the depressed and the despairing.  We now name before you especially …

Merciful Lord, we pray for all who are coming to the end of their journey here on earth and pray that they may come into your presence and kingdom. We pray for all those who have come before your face and now rejoice in the fullness of life eternal.

Thank you, gracious God, for our families, friends and neighbours, and for those who have guided and enriched our own lives.  Bless and protect them, and hasten the day when we can meet with them freely.

Eternal God, as we go out into this New Year we ask for your loving presence with us to share in its joys and to strengthen us in its sorrows.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving:
            Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
            for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
            Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
            Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, God our maker. Out of nothing, you called all worlds into being, and still you draw the universe to its fulfilment. Day and night celebrate your glory till time shall be no more. In Christ, your only-begotten Son,  you have revealed yourself to the world. By the guiding of a star, you made him known to the nations as the son of David and king of Israel; that in following him, we might be led from darkness and into his marvellous light.
Filled with the Spirit, who descended upon your Son at his Baptism in the Jordan, we who are baptised in his name strive for his heavenly kingdom in whose radiance we are transfigured and the earth is transformed.

As children of your redeeming purpose who celebrate the manifestation of your Son, we offer you our praise, with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven, singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father. In the Messiah you have come to us. Our hope is built on him in whom you are well pleased. Having been shown to the world as your beloved Son, he proclaimed the good news of your kingdom. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed,           and the captives set free. At his word, water became wine, the hungry were filled with bread,     and the dead were raised.
Before he was given up to suffering and death, desiring to complete the work for which he came into the world, at supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come,  thy will be done;  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.   

Prayer:   May God who led the Wise Men by the shining of a star to find the Christ, the light from Light, lead us also in our pilgrimage to find the Lord, and the blessing of God almighty, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with us ever more.  Amen

A carol for Epiphany, sung at

As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold,
as with joy they hailed its light, leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to thee.

As with joyful steps they sped, Saviour, to that lowly manger bed,
there to bend the knee before thee whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet ever seek thy mercy-seat.

As they offered gifts most rare at that cradle rude and bare,
so may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin’s alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to thee, our heavenly King.

In the heavenly country bright need they no created light;
thou its light, its joy, its crown, thou its sun which goes not down;
there for ever may we sing alleluias to our King.