OREMUS: 10 August 2005

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Aug 9 17:00:01 GMT 2005

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OREMUS for Wednesday, August 10, 2005 
Laurence, Deacon at Rome, Martyr, 258

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

Blessed are you, O God,
on whom our faith rests secure
and whose kingdom we await.
You sustain us by Word and Sacrament
and keep us alert for the coming of the Son of Man,
that we may welcome him without delay.
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 18:1-32

I love you, O Lord my strength,*
 O Lord my stronghold, my crag and my haven.
My God, my rock in whom I put my trust,*
 my shield, the horn of my salvation and my refuge;
   you are worthy of praise.
I will call upon the Lord,*
 and so shall I be saved from my enemies.
The breakers of death rolled over me,*
 and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.
The cords of hell entangled me,*
 and the snares of death were set for me.
I called upon the Lord in my distress*
 and cried out to my God for help.
He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling;*
 my cry of anguish came to his ears.
The earth reeled and rocked;*
 the roots of the mountains shook;
   they reeled because of his anger.
Smoke rose from his nostrils
   and a consuming fire out of his mouth;*
 hot burning coals blazed forth from him.
He parted the heavens and came down*
 with a storm cloud under his feet.
He mounted on cherubim and flew;*
 he swooped on the wings of the wind.
He wrapped darkness about him;*
 he made dark waters and thick clouds his pavilion.
>From the brightness of his presence, through the clouds,*
 burst hailstones and coals of fire.
The Lord thundered out of heaven;*
 the Most High uttered his voice.
He loosed his arrows and scattered them;*
 he hurled thunderbolts and routed them.
The beds of the seas were uncovered,
   and the foundations of the world laid bare,*
 at your battle cry, O Lord,
   at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
He reached down from on high and grasped me;*
 he drew me out of great waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemies
   and from those who hated me;*
 for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster;*
 but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into an open place;*
 he rescued me because he delighted in me.
The Lord rewarded me because of my righteous dealing;*
 because my hands were clean he rewarded me;
For I have kept the ways of the Lord*
 and have not offended against my God;
For all his judgements are before my eyes,*
 and his decrees I have not put away from me;
For I have been blameless with him*
 and have kept myself from iniquity;
Therefore the Lord rewarded me
   according to my righteous dealing,*
 because of the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God;*
 with the forthright you show yourself forthright.
With the pure you show yourself pure,*
 but with the crooked you are wily.
You will save a lowly people,*
 but you will humble the haughty eyes.
You, O Lord, are my lamp;*
 my God, you make my darkness bright.
With you I will break down an enclosure;*
 with the help of my God I will scale any wall.
As for God, his ways are perfect;
   the words of the Lord are tried in the fire;*
 he is a shield to all who trust in him.
For who is God, but the Lord?*
 who is the rock, except our God?

A Song of Peace (Isaiah 2:3-5)

Come, let us go up to the mountain of God,
to the house of the God of Jacob;

That God may teach us his ways,
and that we may walk in his paths.

For the law shall go out from Zion,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

God shall judged between the nations,
and shall mediate for many peoples.

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

O people of Jacob, come:
let us walk in the light of the Lord.

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 [Genesis 42:18-38]:

On the third day Joseph said to them, 'Do this and you
will live, for I fear God: if you are honest men, let one
of your brothers stay here where you are imprisoned. The
rest of you shall go and carry grain for the famine of
your households, and bring your youngest brother to me.
Thus your words will be verified, and you shall not die.'
And they agreed to do so. They said to one another,
'Alas, we are paying the penalty for what we did to our
brother; we saw his anguish when he pleaded with us, but
we would not listen. That is why this anguish has come
upon us.' Then Reuben answered them, 'Did I not tell you
not to wrong the boy? But you would not listen. So now
there comes a reckoning for his blood.' They did not know
that Joseph understood them, since he spoke with them
through an interpreter. He turned away from them and
wept; then he returned and spoke to them. And he picked
out Simeon and had him bound before their eyes. Joseph
then gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return
every man's money to his sack, and to give them
provisions for their journey. This was done for them.
They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed.
When one of them opened his sack to give his donkey
fodder at the lodging-place, he saw his money at the top
of the sack. He said to his brothers, 'My money has been
put back; here it is in my sack!' At this they lost heart
and turned trembling to one another, saying, 'What is
this that God has done to us?'
When they came to their father Jacob in the land of
Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them,
saying, 'The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to
us, and charged us with spying on the land. But we said
to him, "We are honest men, we are not spies. We are
twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and
the youngest is now with our father in the land of
Canaan." Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us,
"By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one
of your brothers with me, take grain for the famine of
your households, and go your way. Bring your youngest
brother to me, and I shall know that you are not spies
but honest men. Then I will release your brother to you,
and you may trade in the land." '
As they were emptying their sacks, there in each one's
sack was his bag of money. When they and their father saw
their bundles of money, they were dismayed. And their
father Jacob said to them, 'I am the one you have
bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no
more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has
happened to me!' Then Reuben said to his father, 'You may
kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put
him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.' But
he said, 'My son shall not go down with you, for his
brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should
come to him on the journey that you are to make, you
would bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to Sheol.' 

For another Biblical reading,
Acts 14:21-28

Words: Latin, twelfth century;
trans. Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1861
Tune: Holy Manna, Alta Trinita Beata     
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Blessed feasts of blessed martyrs,
holy days of holy men,
with affection's recollections
greet we your return again.
Worthy deeds they wrought, and wonders,
worthy of the Name they bore;
we, with meetest praise and sweetest,
honor them for evermore.

Faith ne'er altered, hope ne'er faltered,
love of Jesus filled their heart;
thus they glorious and victorious
bravely bore the martyr's part,
by contempt of worldly pleasures,
and by deeds of valor done.
they have reached the land of angels,
and with them are knit in one.

Made co-heirs with Christ in glory,
his celestial bliss they share:
may they now before him bending
help us onward by their prayer;
that this weary life completed,
and its fleeting trials past,
we may win eternal glory
in our Father's home at last.

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

We pray for the use of God's gifts to his Church, saying
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy, hear us

God our Father,
you give us gifts that we may work together
in the service of your Son:
Bless those who lead,
that they may be firm in faith, 
yet humble before you.
We pray especially for the people of the Diocese
of Rajasthan, India, The Rt Revd Colin Christopher Theodore, Bishop.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who teach,
that they may increase our understanding,    
and be open to your word for them:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who minister healing,
that they may bring wholeness to other, 
yet know your healing in themselves:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those through whom you speak,
that they may proclaim your word in power,
yet have their ears open to your gentle whisper:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who work in your world today
that they may live for you, fulfil your purposes,
and seek your kingdom first
in the complexity of their daily lives.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who feel they have no gifts and are not valued,
and those who are powerless by the world's standards,
that they may share their experience
of the work of your Spirit.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Guard us, O Lord, with the shield of faith
and fight for us with the sword of the Spirit,
that in all our spiritual warfare
   against the powers of darkness
we may gain the victory
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God,
who made Laurence a loving servant of your people
and a wise steward of the treasures of your Church: 
fire us with his example to love as he loved 
and to walk in the way that leads to eternal life; 
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.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

Draw us nearer to Jesus,
that, following his way of sacrificial love,
we may come to the banquet of eternal life.  Amen.

The psalms, first collect and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer 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 prayer use sentences from 
prayers in _Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_.
Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

The intercession is from _Patterns for Worship_, material from
which is included in this service is copyright (c) The Archbishops'
Council, 1995.

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.

Laurence (or Lawrence) was chief of the seven deacons of the congregation at
Rome, the seven men who, like Stephen and his companions (Acts 6:1-6),
in charge of administering the church budget, particularly with regard to the
care of the poor. In 257, the emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed
chiefly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes. All Church property was
confiscated and meetings of Christians were forbidden. The bishop of Rome,
Sixtus II, and most of his clergy were executed on 7 August 258, and Laurence
on the 10th. This much from the near-contemporary records of the
The accounts recorded about a century later by Ambrose and the poet
Prudentius report that the Roman prefect, knowing that Laurence was the
principal financial officer, promised to set him free if he would surrender the
wealth of the Church. Laurence agreed, but said that it would take him three
days to gather it. During those three days, he placed all the money at his
disposal in the hands of trustworthy stewards, and then assembled the sick, the
aged, and the poor, the widows and orphans of the congregation, presented
them to the prefect, and said, "These are the treasures of the Church." The
enraged prefect ordered him to be roasted alive on a gridiron. Laurence bore
the torture with great calmness, saying to his executioners at one time, "You
may turn me over; I am done on this side." The spectacle of his courage made
a great impression on the people of Rome, and made many converts, while
greatly reducing among pagans the belief that Christianity was a socially
undesirable movement that should be stamped out.
The details of these later accounts have been disputed, on the grounds that a
Roman citizen would have been beheaded. However, it is not certain that
Laurence was a citizen, or that the prefect could be counted on to observe the
law if he were. More serious objections are these:
(1) The detailed accounts of the martyrdom of Laurence confuse the
persecution under Decius with the persecution under Valerian, describing the
latter, not as an emperor, but as the prefect of Rome under the emperor
(2) We have early testimony that Bishop Sixtus and his deacons were not led
away to execution, but were summarily beheaded on the scene of their
For these reasons, the Bollandist Pere Delahaye and others believe that
Laurence was simply beheaded in 258 with his bishop and fellow deacons. On
this theory, it remains unexplained how he became so prominent and acquired
so elaborate an account of his martyrdom. Lawrence's emblem in art is
(naturally) a gridiron. [James Kiefer]

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