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Epiphany Service

Please see the Service Rota for details



According to mediaeval texts, the three wise men were named Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar. Each came from a different culture: Melchior was Asian; Balthazar was Persian; and Gaspar was Ethiopian, thus representing the three races known to the old world. These three priest-kings and wise men brought royal gifts to Jesus: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Melchior brought a golden cup, which, according to legend, was preserved by the Blessed Virgin Mary and was the same cup used in the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Balthazar brought a gold box of frankincense. Gaspar brought a flask of myrrh, a royal embalming oil.

The gift of gold symbolizes the kingship of Christ. As we all know Gold is a rare metal that does not tarnish and is the preserve of Kings.

The gift of frankincense symbolizes the Godhead of Christ and his Divinity. Frankincense is derived from the gum resin of a tree that grows in Arabia - and was used to make special incense which was then burned in the temple by the priests as a sweet smelling offering to God.

The gift of myrrh is a prophecy of the death and burial of the earthly body of Christ, which represents our understanding and empathy for the suffering of humanity. Myrrh comes from Arabia - from a small bush rather than a tree - and it was used to make perfume and anointing oil. Myrrh was used by the Egyptians in their embalming fluids and as a perfume and an oil was used by many nations as part of preparing a body for burial.

The word Epiphany comes from the Greek meaning "to appear or to be shown forth" According to Christian tradition, Epiphany signifies the first appearance of Christ to the gentiles in the story of the visit of the three wise men to the divine infant Jesus. As the three wise men represent all the known peoples of the world, this signifies an appearance to the entire world.

Last Modified Sunday 25 March 2012