OREMUS: 23 February 2005

Steve Benner oremus at insight.rr.com
Wed Feb 23 00:32:18 GMT 2005

OREMUS for Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155

O God, make speed to save us;
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Blessed are you, God of compassion and mercy:

you accepted the sacrifice of your Son,
who have himself up for the sake of all.
You train us by his teaching
and school us in his obedience,
that as we walk his way of sacrifice,
we may come to share in your glory.
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 108
My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;*
  I will sing and make melody.
Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp;*
  I myself will waken the dawn.
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord;*
  I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,*
  and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,*
  and your glory over all the earth.
So that those who are dear to you may be delivered,*
  save with your right hand and answer me.

Psalm 143
Lord, hear my prayer,
    and in your faithfulness heed my supplications;*
  answer me in your righteousness.
Enter not into judgement with your servant,*
  for in your sight shall no one living be justified.
For my enemy has sought my life
    and has crushed me to the ground;*
  making me live in dark places
    like those who are long dead.
My spirit faints within me;*
  my heart within me is desolate.
I remember the time past;
    I muse upon all your deeds;*
  I consider the works of your hands.
I spread out my hands to you;*
  my soul gasps to you like a thirsty land.
O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me;*
  do not hide your face from me
    or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning,
    for I put my trust in you;*
  show me the road that I must walk,
    for I lift up my soul to you.
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord,*
  for I flee to you for refuge.
Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God;*
  let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Revive me, O Lord, for your name’s sake;*
  for your righteousness’ sake, bring me out of trouble.

A Song of the Word of the Lord (Isaiah 55:6-11)

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;

Let the wicked abandon their ways,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;

Return to the Lord,
who will have mercy;
to our God, who will richly pardon.

'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways', says the Lord.

'For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

'As the rain and the snow come down from above,
and return not again but water the earth,

'Bringing forth life and giving growth,
seed for sowing and bread to eat,

'So is my word that goes forth from my mouth;
it will not return to me fruitless,

'But it will accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the task I gave it.'

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 [Job 9:1-4,14-16,32-35]:

Then Job answered:
'Indeed I know that this is so;
but how can a mortal be just before God?
If one wished to contend with him,
one could not answer him once in a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength
who has resisted him, and succeeded?
How then can I answer him,
choosing my words with him?
Though I am innocent, I cannot answer him;
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
If I summoned him and he answered me,
I do not believe that he would listen to my voice.
For he is not a mortal, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should come to trial together.
There is no umpire between us,
who might lay his hand on us both.
If he would take his rod away from me,
and not let dread of him terrify me,
then I would speak without fear of him,
for I know I am not what I am thought to be.

For another Biblical reading, 1 Peter 4:1-11

Words: Frances Ridley Havergal, 1878
Tune: Bullinger

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I am trusting thee, Lord, Jesus,
trusting only thee;
trusting thee for full salvation,
great and free.

I am trusting thee for pardon;
at thy feet I bow;
for thy grace and tender mercy,
trusting now.

I am trusting thee for cleansing
in the crimson flood;
trusting thee to make me holy
by thy blood.

I am trusting thee to guide me;
thou alone shalt lead;
every day and hour supplying
all my need.

I am trusting thee for power,
thine can never fail;
words which thou thyself shalt give me
must prevail.

I am trusting thee, Lord Jesus;
never let me fall;
I am trusting thee forever,
and for all.

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

Teach us, O Lord, the way of your statutes:
And lead us in the path of your commandments.

Keep our nation under your care:
And guide us in justice and truth.

O Lord, deal graciously with your servants;
teach us discernment and knowledge.

Let not the needy be forgotten:
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Guide the meek in judgement:
And teach your ways to the gentle.

Lord, remember your people:
Whom you have purchased and redeemed of old.

We pray for your Church, O Lord, especially
the Diocese of Manicaland, Central Africa,
The Rt Revd Dr Sebastian Bakare, Bishop
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O God,
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose compassion never fails:
come with the dawning of the new day
and reveal your power in our lives,
that your glory may be exalted in all the earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God,
who have to your servant Polycarp
boldness to confess the name of our Savior Jesus Christ
before the rulers of this world
and courage to die for this faith:
grant that we also may be ready to give
an answer for the faith that is in us
and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Trusting in the compassion of God,
let us pray as our Savior taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

Help us, O God, to be obedient to your call
to love all your children,
to do justice and show mercy,
and to live in peace with your whole creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The psalms and the collects are from Celebrating Common
Prayer (Mowbray), © The Society of Saint Francis 1992,
which is used with permission.

The canticle, the opening thanksgiving and the invitation to the
Lord's Prayer from Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition, copyright © The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version
(Anglicized Edition), copyright © 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 adapts phrases from
Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language. Canterbury Press, 
Norwich, 1999.

The closing sentence are from Book of Common Worship,
© 1993 Westminster / John Knox Press.

Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna (today known as Izmir),
a city on the west coast of Turkey. The letters to the "seven
churches in Asia" at the beginning of the book of Revelation
include a letter to the church in Smyrna, identifying it as a
church undergoing persecution.

Polycarp is said to have known the Apostle John, and to have
been instructed by him in the Christian faith. Polycarp, in his
turn, was known to Irenaeus, who later became Bishop of
Lyons in what is now France. We have (1) Irenaeus's brief
memoir of Polycarp; (2) a letter to Polycarp from Ignatius of Antioch,
written around 115 AD when Ignatius was passing through Turkey,
being sent in chains to Rome to be put to death; (3) a letter from
Polycarp to the church at Philippi, written at the same time;
and (4) an account of the arrest, trial, conviction, and martyrdom
of Polycarp, written after his death by one or more members
of his congregation.

Polycarp was denounced to the government, arrested, and tried on
the charge of being a Christian. When the proconsul urged him to save
his life by cursing Christ, he replied: "Eighty-six years I have served him,
and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who
saved me?" The magistrate was reluctant to kill a a gentle old man,
  but he had no choice.

Polycarp was sentenced to be burned. As he waited for the fire to
be lighted, he prayed:

Lord God Almighty, Father of your blessed and beloved child Jesus
Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of
angels and hosts and all creation, and of the whole race of the upright
who live in your presence: I bless you that you have thought me
worthy of this day and hour, to be numbered among the martyrs
and share in the cup of Christ, for resurrection to eternal life, for
soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. Among them
may I be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable
sacrifice, just as you, the faithful and true God, have prepared and
foreshown and brought about. For this reason and for all things
I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal heavenly
high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved child, through whom be glory
to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for the ages to come. Amen.

The fire was then lit and shortly thereafter a soldier stabbed Polycarp
to death by order of the magistrate. His friends gave his remains
honorable burial, and wrote an account of his death to other churches.
See the Penguin volume, Ancient Christian Writers. [James Kiefer]

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