OREMUS: 10 August 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Aug 9 17:00:01 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Thursday, August 10, 2006 
Laurence, Deacon at Rome, Martyr, 258

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

Blessing and honor to God the Father, who is our hope.
Blessing and honor to God the Son, who is our refuge.
Blessing and honor to God the Holy Spirit, who is our protection,
Blessing and honor to the Holy Trinity, glorious now and for ever.
Blessed be God for ever.

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 81

Sing with joy to God our strength*
 and raise a loud shout to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song and sound the timbrel,*
 the merry harp and the lyre.
Blow the ram's-horn at the new moon,*
 and at the full moon, the day of our feast.
For this is a statute for Israel,*
 a law of the God of Jacob.
He laid it as a solemn charge upon Joseph,*
 when he came out of the land of Egypt.
I heard an unfamiliar voice saying,*
 'I eased his shoulder from the burden;
   his hands were set free from bearing the load.'
You called on me in trouble and I saved you;*
 I answered you from the secret place of thunder
   and tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you:*
 O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
There shall be no strange god among you;*
 you shall not worship a foreign god.
I am the Lord your God,
   who brought you out of the land of Egypt and said,*
 'Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.'
And yet my people did not hear my voice,*
 and Israel would not obey me.
So I gave them over to the stubbornness
   of their hearts,*
 to follow their own devices.
O that my people would listen to me!*
 that Israel would walk in my ways!
I should soon subdue their enemies*
 and turn my hand against their foes.
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,*
 and their punishment would last for ever.
But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat*
 and satisfy him with honey from the rock.

A Song of Christ's Appearing (1 Timothy 3:16; 6:15-16)
Christ Jesus was revealed in the flesh
and vindicated in the spirit.

He was seen by angels
and proclaimed among the nations.

Believed in throughout the world,
he was taken up in glory.

This will be made manifest at the proper time
by the blessed and only Sovereign,

Who alone has immortality,
and dwells in unapproachable light.

To the King of kings and Lord of lords
be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

Psalm 148

   Praise the Lord from the heavens;*
 praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels of his;*
 praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;*
 praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens,*
 and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;*
 for he commanded and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever;*
 he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,*
 you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog,*
 tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills,*
 fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle,*
 creeping things and winged birds;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,*
 princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens,*
 old and young together.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,*
 for his name only is exalted,
   his splendour is over earth and heaven.
He has raised up strength for his people
   and praise for all his loyal servants,*
 the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

FIRST READING [2 Samuel 13:37-14:24]:

But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king
of Geshur. David mourned for his son day after day.
Absalom, having fled to Geshur, stayed there for three
years. And the heart of the king went out, yearning for
Absalom; for he was now consoled over the death of
Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's mind
was on Absalom. Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there
a wise woman. He said to her, 'Pretend to be in mourning;
put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with
oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many
days for the dead. Go to the king and speak to him as
follows.' And Joab put the words into her mouth. 
When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her
face to the ground and did obeisance, and said, 'Help, O
king!' The king asked her, 'What is your trouble?' She
answered, 'Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. Your
servant had two sons, and they fought with one another in
the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck
the other and killed him. Now the whole family has risen
against your servant. They say, "Give up the man who
struck his brother, so that we may kill him for the life
of his brother whom he murdered, even if we destroy the
heir as well." Thus they would quench my one remaining
ember, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant
on the face of the earth.' 
Then the king said to the woman, 'Go to your house, and I
will give orders concerning you.' The woman of Tekoa said
to the king, 'On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and
on my father's house; let the king and his throne be
guiltless.' The king said, 'If anyone says anything to
you, bring him to me, and he shall never touch you
again.' Then she said, 'Please, may the king keep the
Lord your God in mind, so that the avenger of blood may
kill no more, and my son not be destroyed.' He said, 'As
the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to
the ground.' 
Then the woman said, 'Please let your servant speak a
word to my lord the king.' He said, 'Speak.' The woman
said, 'Why then have you planned such a thing against the
people of God? For in giving this decision the king
convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his
banished one home again. We must all die; we are like
water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up.
But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans
so as not to keep an outcast banished for ever from his
presence. Now I have come to say this to my lord the king
because the people have made me afraid; your servant
thought, "I will speak to the king; it may be that the
king will perform the request of his servant. For the
king will hear, and deliver his servant from the hand of
the man who would cut both me and my son off from the
heritage of God." Your servant thought, "The word of my
lord the king will set me at rest"; for my lord the king
is like the angel of God, discerning good and evil. The
Lord your God be with you!' 
Then the king answered the woman, 'Do not withhold from
me anything I ask you.' The woman said, 'Let my lord the
king speak.' The king said, 'Is the hand of Joab with you
in all this?' The woman answered and said, 'As surely as
you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn right or left
from anything that my lord the king has said. For it was
your servant Joab who commanded me; it was he who put all
these words into the mouth of your servant. In order to
change the course of affairs your servant Joab did this.
But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of
God to know all things that are on the earth.' 
Then the king said to Joab, 'Very well, I grant this; go,
bring back the young man Absalom.' Joab prostrated
himself with his face to the ground and did obeisance,
and blessed the king; and Joab said, 'Today your servant
knows that I have found favour in your sight, my lord the
king, in that the king has granted the request of his
servant.' So Joab set off, went to Geshur, and brought
Absalom to Jerusalem. The king said, 'Let him go to his
own house; he is not to come into my presence.' So
Absalom went to his own house, and did not come into the
king's presence.

Words: James Weldon Johnson, 1899
Tune: Lift every voice                                       

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Lift every voice and sing
till earth and heaven ring,
ring with the harmonies of liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise 
high as the listening skies;
let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
facing the rising sun
of our new day begun,
let us march on, till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
bitter the chastening rod,
felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
yet, with a steady beat,
have not our weary feet
come to the place for which our parents sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears have been watered;
we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, 
out from the gloomy past,
till now we stand at last
where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
thou who hast by thy might led us into the light;
keep us for ever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;
lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee;
shadowed beneath thy hand 
may we for ever stand,
true to our God, true to our native land.

SECOND READING [Romans 15:1-6]:

We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please
ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbour for the good purpose of building up
the neighbour. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, 'The insults of
those who insult you have fallen on me.' For whatever was written in former days was
written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the
scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement
grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that
together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Lord of our lives,
we have decided to follow Jesus
and have chosen to be in your Kingdom.
Give us courage, discernment and an unwavering faith.

When we are uncertain,
reveal a vision.

When we are passive,
light a fire.

When we are tempted,
send your Spirit.

Enfold us in your love,
wrap us about with assurance
and infuse us with determination,
that we may be true disciples
and all the world may see the love of Jesus Christ in us. Amen.

Feed our souls, O Lord, with the bread of heaven,
that we may be prepared for eternity,
and pour the waters of your holiness into our souls,
that our every work and action
may be a joyful sign of your love;
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

Quench our thirst with your gift of belief,
that we may no longer work for food that perishes,
but believe in the One whom you have sent. Amen.

The psalms 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 is derived from Compline in the Orthodox tradition.

The intercession is adapted by Stephen Benner from a prayer by Arlene M. Mark, from
_Words for Worship_; used by permission of Herald Press.

The first collect is by Saint Basil of Caesarea.

The closing prayer is derived from a sentence in in _Opening Prayers: Collects in
Contemporary Language_. Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

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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