Epiphany 2023: Lessons and Carols
Welcoming the Three Queens
Preparation: Invite participants to wear a scarf and bring a festive food to share. Have four large candles and one small candle for each paarcipant.
Say in a word what the holidays have been for you. Then put on a wise woman scarf.
Introduction: (Light a candle)
It is so important to be together as wise women tonight, especially with Covid, illness, and death in our communities, war in Ukraine, climate changing worldwide, the House in flux, immigration injustice, and so much more.
We gather in the midst of all of this to close the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa season. We have all gone our separate ways for the actual festivities, but come together tonight to bring closure to 2022 (be gone, be gone, be gone!) and to open a new year together.
The earliest Christians celebrated Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas, as one of the three primary holy days of the liturgical year. Epiphany, from the Greek epiphaneia, means appearance, coming, or significant manifestation. Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of divinity on Earth. It symbolizes how each person’s life manifests the mystery of Divine love in the world. It suggests that the unfolding of our gifts and talents bears witness to the presence of the Divine with us.
Tonight, we gather to close the season with lessons and carols as we focus on light, stars, and wise women. So, lean back and enjoy this time together as we say goodbye to the old and make room for the new.
Carol: “Joy to the Earth,” adapted from Annie Minogue
Joy to the Earth, the Light returns, and sunlight fills the air.
The tide has turned, the Sun has been reborn
And hope is shining through, and hope is shining through,
And hope and hope is shining through.
Mother of all, to You we sing in praise this glorious day.
For Earth and Sky; Fire, Water and Life,
In You we are reborn, In You we are reborn,
In You, in You, we are reborn.
Lesson 1: (Light a candle) Matthew 2:1-12
“And the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary, and they praised the Holy One. Then opening their treasures, they presented their gifts.”
Carol: “We Wise Ones” (We Three Queens/Kings)
We wise ones from everywhere are, Bearing gifts we’ve carried from far
Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Following yonder star.
Oh, star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Homeward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to the holy Light.
Lesson 2: (Light a candle) “The Queens Came Late” by Norma Farber, from When It Snowed That Night, ©1993.
The Queens came late, but the Queens were there
With gifts in their hands and crowns in their hair.
They’d come, these three, like the Kings, from far,
Following, yes, that guiding star.
They’d left their ladles, linens, looms,
Their children playing in nursery rooms,
And told their sitters: “Take charge! For this
Is a marvelous sight we must not miss!”
The Queens came late, but not too late
To see the animals small and great,
Feathered and furred, domestic and wild,
Gathered to gaze at a mother and child.
And rather than frankincense and myrrh
And gold for the babe, they brought for her
Who held him, a homespun gown of blue,
And chicken soup—with noodles, too—
And a lingering, lasting, cradle-song.
The Queens came late and stayed not long,
For their thoughts already were straining far—
Past manger and mother and guiding star
And a child a-glow as a morning sun—
Toward home and children and chores undone.
Carol: “O Come All Ye Faithful,” adapted by Anna Roeschley
O come, faithful women, better late than never!
O Come you, O come you in your special time.
Come and behold her, mother of all nations;
Chorus: O come in adoration, O come in adoration,
O come in adoration, Follow the Light.
Bring, all you women, bring your gifts of mercy;
Bring, all you women from near and afar!
Come bring your warm soup, your homespun gowns and insight. (Chorus)
Lesson 3: (Light a candle) by Dorothea Solle from Revolutionary Patience
I’ve thought a lot about
Why they went
A major disturbance in the sky
A threefold source of light
In an unexpected place
An unfamiliar star among familiar ones
Is that reason enough to set out
On sand-drifted roads
Carrying stale water in leather bags
Month after month
Putting aside for now the question of higher powers
That might have influenced them
I have no grasp on things like that
I would call
What drove them from home
Where they must have had it good
I would call this revolutionary virtue of the modern era
This I’d guess is what spurred them on
They wanted to see what was up
To straighten out a new confusion
To account for this unexpected brightness
And incorporate it in the existing order…
Were they able to explain this star
Did they go home
Conscious of a higher order
Are they still underway
In the heavens and on Earth
Did they accommodate unexpected brightness
To the everyday twilight around them
Or is there a chance that
They accommodated themselves to amazing light
Could it be harnessed if so for what
Did they see clearer when they got there
More important still
Did they who saw it
Reports are few
But assuming they did change
I would praise the travelers
And rejoice in them and
If this uncommon light is still shining
Look at it long and often
Reflection/Sharing: Why do you follow the star? How has it changed you? (Light a candle and share)
Uniting Our Star-Light
Take a candle. Hold it near your heart to signify that Divine light shines within you. Next, hold the candle in front of you as far as possible, signifying an offering of the Light and Love to all who dwell on Earth and in the cosmos.
Now, hold the candle to your heart and move it slowly in a circle in front of you. Send the light and love of the Star-Light within you to family, friends, loved ones, all who are part of your circle of life.
Hold the light for loved ones who need our prayers. Who needs this light? Tell us. Send the light and love of the Star-Light within you to them.
Hold the light for women of the world who need gifts tonight. Send the light and love of the Star-Light within you to all queens who need a gift.
Blessing Bread, Food, and Drink
Let us extend our hands toward the bread, food, and drink.
Blessed are you, Holy Wisdom and Sister Queens,
for sharing bread, food, and drink with us:
manna from heaven, the bread of life,
the cup of salvation, life-giving food for the journey.
Surrounded by the company of wise women who have gone before us,
and embraced by loved ones,
keep us kind, loving, and gracious.
Bless us and strengthen us to meet the challenges of the year ahead.
Sharing Oplatki and New Year Wishes
Our friend, Ann Marie with Polish ancestry, sent us Oplatki, a wafer that is shared at Christmas time as a symbol of friendship and love. Break off a piece of Oplatek and share it with good wishes for the New Year.
Carol: “Here We Come A-Wassailing” adapted by Ann Pat Ware, SL
Wassailing literally means: ‘be in good health’ or ‘be fortunate’.
Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand’ring so fair to be seen:
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you
A Happy New Year,
Sophia send you a Happy New Year!
Sharing the Epiphany Feast!
Let us eat and drink with gratitude.
© Diann L. Neu, WATER, firstname.lastname@example.org for SAS