OREMUS: 29 December 2004

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Dec 28 17:00:01 GMT 2004

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OREMUS for Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, loving and merciful God,
you fill our hearts with joy
as we recognize in Christ the revelation of your love.
No eye can see his glory as our God,
yet now he is seen like one of us.
Christ is your Son before all ages,
yet now he is born in time.
He has come to lift up all things to himself,
to restore unity to creation,
and to lead us from exile into your heavenly kingdom.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 20

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble,*
 the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
Send you help from his holy place*
 and strengthen you out of Zion;
Remember all your offerings*
 and accept your burnt sacrifice;
Grant you your heart's desire*
 and prosper all your plans.
We will shout for joy at your victory
   and triumph in the name of our God;*
 may the Lord grant all your requests.
Now I know that the Lord gives victory
   to his anointed;*
 he will answer him out of his holy heaven,
   with the victorious strength of his right hand.
Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses,*
 but we will call upon the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall down,*
 but we will arise and stand upright.
O Lord, give victory to the king*
 and answer us when we call.

Psalm 61

Hear my cry, O God,*
 and listen to my prayer.
I call upon you from the ends of the earth
   with heaviness in my heart;*
 set me upon the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,*
 a strong tower against the enemy.
I will dwell in your house for ever;*
 I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
For you, O God, have heard my vows;*
 you have granted me the heritage
   of those who fear your name.
Add length of days to the king's life;*
 let his years extend over many generations.
Let him sit enthroned before God for ever;*
 bid love and faithfulness watch over him.
So will I always sing the praise of your name,*
 and day by day I will fulfil my vows.

Psalm 99

The Lord is king; let the people tremble;*
 he is enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth shake.
The Lord is great in Zion;*
 he is high above all peoples.
Let them confess his name, which is great and awesome;*
 he is the Holy One.
'O mighty King, lover of justice,
   you have established equity;*
 you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.'
Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
   and fall down before his footstool;*
 he is the Holy One.
Moses and Aaron among his priests,
   and Samuel among those who call upon his name,*
 they called upon the Lord and he answered them.
He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud;*
 they kept his testimonies
   and the decree that he gave them.
'O Lord our God, you answered them indeed;*
 you were a God who forgave them,
   yet punished them for their evil deeds.'
Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
   and worship him upon his holy hill;*
 for the Lord our God is the Holy One.

A Song of God's Chosen One (Isaiah 11.1-4a,6,9)

There shall come forth a shoot from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

The spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear,

But with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.

The calf, the lion and the fatling together,
with a little child to lead them.

They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

Psalm 147:13-end

Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem;*
 praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;*
 he has blessed your children within you.
He has established peace on your borders;*
 he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth,*
 and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;*
 he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He scatters his hail like bread crumbs;*
 who can stand against his cold?
He sends forth his word and melts them;*
 he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,*
 his statutes and his judgements to Israel.
He has not done so to any other nation;*
 to them he has not revealed his judgements.

READING [1 John 1:8--2:6]:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and
the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is
faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us
from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not
sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so
that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an
advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and
he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for
ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey
his commandments. Whoever says, 'I have come to know
him', but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and
in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever
obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has
reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in
him: whoever says, 'I abide in him', ought to walk just
as he walked. 

For another Biblical reading,
Micah 2:12-13

Words: Jean Mauburn, 1494; trans. Elizabeth Charles, 1858
Tune: Mauburn
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Dost thou in a manger lie,
who hast all created,
stretching infant hands on high,
Savior, long awaited?
If a monarch, where thy state?
Where thy court on thee to wait?
Royal purple, where?
Here no regal pomp we see,
nought but need and penury:
why thus cradled here?

"Pitying love for fallen man
brought me down thus low;
for a race deep lost in sin
came I into woe.
By this lowly birth of mine,
sinner, riches shall be thine,
matchless gifts and free;
willingly this yoke I take,
and this sacrifice I make,
heaping joys for thee."

Fervent praise would I do to thee
evermore be raising;
for thy wondrous love to me
thee be ever praising.
Glory, glory be for ever
unto that most bounteous Giver,
and that loving Lord!
Better witness to thy worth,
purer praise than ours on earth,
angels' songs afford.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

Christ, for whom there was no room in the inn,
give courage to all who are homeless:
In your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Christ, who fled into Egypt,
give comfort to all refugees;
In your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Christ, who fasted in the desert,
give relief to all who are starving:
In your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Christ, who hung in agony on the cross,
give strength to all who suffer:
In your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Christ, who died to save us,
give peace to all who seek pardon.
In your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Hear our prayers today for the Church, especially in the Diocese
of Kyushu, Japan, The Rt Revd Gabriel Shoji Igarashi, Bishop.
In your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Hear our prayers for the people of South Asia,
for those who have died in the tsunami,
for those who have lost loved ones,
for those who are lost,
for those whose homes no longer stand.
In your mercy,
hear our prayer.

O God, whose Son was born in our flesh
   to be our Redeemer:
hear and defend us, who call upon his holy Name,
and grant us to share in his victory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord God,
who gave grace to your servant Thomas Becket
to put aside all earthly fear
      and be faithful even to death:
grant that we, disregarding worldly esteem,
may fight all wrong,
uphold your rule,
and serve you to our life's end;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Rejoicing in the presence of God here among us,
let us pray in faith and trust:

- The Lord's Prayer

May he who by his incarnation gathered into one
things earthly and heavenly,
bestow upon us the fullness of peace and goodwill. Amen.

The psalms and the first collect are from _Celebrating Common
Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is
used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are adapted from
_The Promise of His Glory_ (Mowbray), (c) The Central
Board of Finance  of the Church of England 1990, 1991, which is used with

The intercession is from _New Patterns for Worship_, copyright
(c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The second collect is from _Common Worship: Services and Prayers for
the Church of England_, material from which is included in this service is
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

On December 29, we remember Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury,
slain in his own cathedral in 1170, for his defiance of King Henry II. The death
of Thomas reminds us that a Christian, even when safe from pagans, can be in
danger from his fellow-Christians. It also reminds us that one can be martyred
in a cause where the merits of the particular issue at hand are not obvious to all
men of good will. The issue here, or one of the issues, was one of court
jurisdiction. King Henry claimed that a cleric accused of an ordinary crime
ought to be tried in the King's Courts like any layman. Thomas, who was
Henry's Chancellor and his close friend, vigorously upheld the king's position.
However, when he was made Archbishop of Canterbury with the king's
support, he reversed himself completely and upheld the right of clergy to be
tried only in Church courts, which could not inflict capital punishment. (This
reversal does not imply fickleness or treachery. As Chancellor, Thomas was
bound to serve the king. Now, as Archbishop, he was bound to defend the
Church.) Henry wanted an arrangement by which (for example) a priest
accused of murder would be tried by a Church Court, which if it found him
guilty would degrade him to the rank of a layman, whereupon a King's Court
would try him, and if it found him guilty would order him hanged. Thomas
objected that a man could not be tried and punished twice for the same offense.
Henry, being angered at opposition from someone whom he had counted
on for support, was heard to exclaim in anger, "This fellow who has eaten my
bread has lifted up his heel against me [see Psalm 41:9]. Have I no friend who
will rid me of this upstart priest?" Four of his knights promptly rode to
Canterbury, where they confronted the Archbishop and demanded that he back
down. When he did not, they killed him. Public reaction was immediate and
vigorous, and reckoned Thomas as a saint and a martyr, and Henry as a
blaspheming murderer. Henry swore that he had not intended his remark to be
taken seriously, and had himself publicly whipped at the tomb of Thomas.
Thomas was very soon canonized, and his tomb was one of the most popular
places of pilgrimage in Europe for the next three-and-a-half centuries. During a
war between England and France, a King of France obtained a cease-fire to
enable him to make a pilgrimage to Canterbury. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is
concerned with a group of pilgrims on their way to the tomb of Thomas.
[James Kiefer]

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