Saturday, January 03, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on Epiphany

I had originally planned to post these reflections on January 5th, in keeping with the "day before" schedule we've been following here at Presbyterian Bloggers. However, it occurred to me that many churches will celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday preceding January 6th, and so if the reflections are to be of any use at all, they need to go up now. So here are the passages for Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on January 6th. These readings are the same every year. All links are to the TNIV via, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at

Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Light is a common symbol of revelation. What does the light in this passage reveal? What did the land look like before the light came? What do the other nations see in this light that they should be drawn to it? What should our response to be the coming of this light?
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Ephesians 3:1-12
  • Paul talks about the revelation that he has received from God. If someone in our own time talks about having revelation from God in this way, how do we respond to them?
  • On what basis can we determine that someone claiming to speak by God's revelation is telling the truth? Or perhaps they honestly believe what they're saying, but may in fact be delusional. How would we appropriately determine this?
  • How should we respond to the words of this passage of Scripture?
Matthew 2:1-12
  • It is traditional to read the story of the Magi on Epiphany. This passage is the only place in the Bible in which this story appears. What do we know about the Magi on the basis of this passage? How much of what we know (or think we know) do we have to gather from outside sources?
  • As Matthew tells of Herod asking his chief priests and teachers of the law to tell him where the Messiah was to be born, we are given a paraphrase of Micah 5:2, 4. How does Matthew's use of this Old Testament prophecy differ from its original context? Is there any significance to such a difference?
  • The story tells of how gold, frankincense and myrrh are the gifts given to the baby Jesus. Most of us are more familiar with gold than we are with frankincense and myrrh. Why should the Magi have given these gifts? What might Mary and Joseph have done with these gifts, given to their new baby? (I reflect a little on the possibilities over on my own blog, if you're interested)
  • The other main character in this story is King Herod. Especially if you read the verses which follow this passage, it's clear that Herod is the villain of this story. The verses we have here show that the Magi are warned not to return to him after meeting the baby Jesus. What is Herod afraid of? Are his fears valid? Do we as Christians sometimes also act as though we are afraid of what God is doing?


Sarah said...

I am not a pastor but I am chair of our worship committee as well as the teacher of an adult Sunday School class. It seems to me like Saturday is a bit late to start ruminating on the week's scriptures. This would be more useful to me, if I were using it in my preparations, a few days earlier in the week. I can't help thinking there are others like me.

B-W said...

I don't necessarily disagree. When I first did this kind of thing on my own, I tended to post reflections a whole week ahead of time. When the call went out for volunteers here, there was already an established pattern of "day before" postings, which I simply accepted. I'm certainly willing to rethink that position, though.

B-W said...

To be fair, I should add that the "lectionary ruminations" that came before me followed a rather different style, so the "day before" thing probably wasn't such an issue.

Stushie said...

Why don't we set this up for Thursdays?

Sarahlynn said...

I'll set up a poll, so that those readers who use the lectionary ruminations can weigh in. :)