OREMUS: 19 July 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Jul 18 21:02:47 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Wednesday, July 19, 2006 
Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and Macrina, Deaconess,
Teachers of the Faith, c.394 and c.379

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

Blessed are you, merciful God;
so abundant is your compassion
that you healed the wounds of our sins
and lifted out of death into new life
through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 
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 62

For God alone my soul in silence waits;*
 from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,*
 my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will you assail me to crush me,
   all of you together,*
 as if you were a leaning fence, a toppling wall?
They seek only to bring me down
   from my place of honour;*
 lies are their chief delight.
They bless with their lips,*
 but in their hearts they curse.
For God alone my soul in silence waits;*
 truly, my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,*
 my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.
In God is my safety and my honour;*
 God is my strong rock and my refuge.
Put your trust in him always, O people,*
 pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.
Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath,*
 even those of low estate cannot be trusted.
On the scales they are lighter than a breath,*
 all of them together.
Put no trust in extortion;
   in robbery take no empty pride;*
 though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.
God has spoken once, twice have I heard it,*
 that power belongs to God.
Steadfast love is yours, O Lord,*
 for you repay everyone according to his deeds.

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you;*
 my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you,
   as in a barren and dry land where there is no water;
Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place,*
 that I might behold your power and your glory.
For your loving-kindness is better than life itself;*
 my lips shall give you praise.
So will I bless you as long as I live*
 and lift up my hands in your name.
My soul is content, as with marrow and fatness,*
 and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,
When I remember you upon my bed,*
 and meditate on you in the night watches.
For you have been my helper,*
 and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice.
My soul clings to you;*
 your right hand holds me fast.

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 [Jeremiah 26:1-6, 12-24]:

At the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim son of
Josiah of Judah, this word came from the Lord: Thus says
the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and
speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in
the house of the Lord; speak to them all the words that I
command you; do not hold back a word. It may be that they
will listen, all of them, and will turn from their evil
way, that I may change my mind about the disaster that I
intend to bring on them because of their evil doings. You
shall say to them: Thus says the Lord: If you will not
listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before
you, and to heed the words of my servants the prophets
whom I send to you urgently though you have not heeded 
then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make
this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the
people, saying, 'It is the Lord who sent me to prophesy
against this house and this city all the words you have
heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and
obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will
change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced
against you. But as for me, here I am in your hands. Do
with me as seems good and right to you. Only know for
certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing
innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its
inhabitants, for in truth the Lord sent me to you to
speak all these words in your ears.'

Then the officials and all the people said to the priests
and the prophets, 'This man does not deserve the sentence
of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord
our God.' And some of the elders of the land arose and
said to all the assembled people, 'Micah of Moresheth,
who prophesied during the days of King Hezekiah of Judah,
said to all the people of Judah: "Thus says the Lord of
Zion shall be ploughed as a field;
   Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,
   and the mountain of the house a wooded height."
Did King Hezekiah of Judah and all Judah actually put him
to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favour
of the Lord, and did not the Lord change his mind about
the disaster that he had pronounced against them? But we
are about to bring great disaster on ourselves!'

There was another man prophesying in the name of the
Lord, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He
prophesied against this city and against this land in
words exactly like those of Jeremiah. And when King
Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the officials,
heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but
when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and
escaped to Egypt. Then King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son
of Achbor and men with him to Egypt, and they took Uriah
from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who struck
him down with the sword and threw his dead body into the
burial place of the common people.

But the hand of Ahikam son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah
so that he was not given over into the hands of the
people to be put to death. 

For another Biblical reading,
John 16:4b-15

Words: Robert Grant (1779-1838), 1833, after William Kethe (ca. 1559-1594)
Tune: Hanover   
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O worship the King,
all glorious above!
O gratefully sing
his power and his love!
Our shield and defender,
the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor,
and girded with praise.

O tell of his might!
O sing of his grace!
Whose robe is the light,
whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath
the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is his path
on the wings of the storm.

The earth, with its store
of wonders untold,
Almighty, thy power
hath founded of old,
hath 'stablished it fast
by a changeless decree,
and round it hath cast,
like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care,
what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air;
it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills,
it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills
in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust,
and feeble as frail,
in thee do we trust,
nor find thee to fail;
thy mercies, how tender!
How firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender,
Redeemer, and Friend!

O measureless Might,
ineffable Love,
while angels delight
to worship thee above,
the humbler creation,
though feeble their lays,
with true adoration
shall all sing thy praise.

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

Give us your peace, O God, that we may rejoice in your
goodness to us and to all your children, and be thankful
for your love revealed in Jesus Christ.
Especially we thank you for
     people who reveal your truth and righteousness...
                         (We thank you, Lord.)
     courage to be bold disciples...
     those who show hospitality...
     surprises that have blessed us...
     the unity of the church of Jesus Christ...

Give us your peace, O God, that we may be confident of
your care for us and all your children, as we remember
the needs of others. Especially we pray for
     friends and relatives who are far away... 
                              (Lord, hear our prayer.)
     neighbors in special need...
     those who suffer hunger and thirst...
     those who work at night while others sleep...
     Episcopal and Methodist churches...

To you we come, O Lord,
the true goal of all human desiring,
beyond all earthly beauty,
gentle protector, strong deliverer;
in the night you are our confidence:
from first light be our joy. Amen.

Lord of eternity, creator of all things,
in your Son Jesus Christ you open for us 
the way to resurrection
that we may enjoy your bountiful goodness:
may we who celebrate your servants Gregory and Macrina
press onwards in faith to your boundless love
and ever wonder at the miracle of your presence among us;
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

Amid the cares of our daily lives,
make us attentive to your voice
and alert to your presence,
that we may treasure your Word above all else. 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 adapted by Stephen Benner from
_We Give You Thanks and Praise: The Ambrosian Eucharistic
Prefaces_, translated by Alan Griffiths, (c) The Canterbury Press
Norwich, 1999.

The intercession is from _Book of Common Worship_, 
(c) 1993 Westminster / John Knox Press. 

The closing prayer uses a sentence from a prayer 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.

Basil the Great is remembered as the founder of Eastern monasticism. All
Eastern Orthodox monks are Basilian monks and follow a variation of the
monastic rule that he outlined. However, it is often overlooked that the
community of monks organized by Basil was preceded and inspired by a
community of nuns organized by his sister, Macrina.
Macrina the Elder lived in the days of the Emperor Diocletian, who made a
determined effort to destroy the Christian faith. She and her husband fled into
hiding, and survived into the time of Constantine. One of their sons, Basil the
Elder, and his wife Emmelia, had several distinguished sons, including Basil the
Great (14 June), Gregory of Nyssa (9 March), Peter of Sebastea, Naucratios,
and Dios of Antioch.
Their oldest offspring, however, was their daughter Macrina (called Macrina
the Younger to distinguish her from her grandmother). She was betrothed at
the age of twelve, after the custom of the day, but when her fiance died, she
determined to devote her life to prayer and contemplation and to works of
charity. After the death of her father, she and her mother formed a community
of women who shared her goals. She often brought poor and hungry women
home to be fed, clothed, nursed, or otherwise taken care of, and many
eventually joined the community, as did many women of means.
After the death of their parents, Macrina was chiefly responsible for the
upbringing of her ten younger brothers. When they were disposed to be
conceited about their intellectual accomplishments, she deflated them with
affectionate but pointed jibes. Her example encouraged some of them to
pursue the monastic ideal, and to found monastic communities for men. (Dios
founded one of the most celebrated monasteries in Constantinople.) Three of
them (Basil, Gregory, Peter) became bishops, and all of them were leading
contenders for the faith of Nicea against the Arians.
Gregory, in his Life of Macrina, records his last visit with her, and her farewell
speech and her prayers and teachings about the resurrection.
Gregory of Nyssa, his brother Basil the Great (14 June), and Basil's best friend
Gregory of Nazianzus (9 May), are known collectively as the Cappadocian
Fathers. They were a major force in the triumph of the Athanasian position at
the Council of Constantinople in 381. Gregory of Nyssa tends to be
overshadowed by the other two.
Gregory of Nyssa was born in Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia (central
Turkey) in about 334, the younger brother of Basil the Great and of Macrina
(19 July), and of several other distinguished persons. As a youth, he was at
best a lukewarm Christian. However, when he was twenty, some of the relics
of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (10 March) were transferred to a chapel near
his home, and their presence made a deep impression on him, confronting him
with the fact that to acknowledge God at all is to acknowledge His right to
demand a total commitment. Gregory became an active and fervent Christian.
He considered the priesthood, decided it was not for him, became a
professional orator like his father, married, and settled down to the life of a
Christian layman. However, his brother Basil and his friend Gregory of
Nazianzus persuaded him to reconsider, and he became a priest in about 362.
His brother Basil, who had become archbishop of Caesarea in 370, was
engaged in a struggle with the Arian Emperor Valens, who was trying to stamp
out belief in the deity of Christ. Basil desperately needed the votes and support
of Athanasian bishops, and he maneuvered his friend Gregory into the
bishopric of Sasima, and (in about 371) his brother Gregory into the bishopric
of Nyssa, a small town about ten miles from Caesarea. Neither one wanted to
be a bishop, neither was suited to be a bishop, and both were furious with
Basil.) Gregory did not get along well with his flock, was falsely accused of
embezzling church funds, fled the scene in about 376, and did not return until
after the death of Valens about two years later.
In 379, Basil died, having lived to see the death of Valens and the end of the
persecution. Shortly thereafter, Macrina died. Gregory was with her in the last
few days of her life. Afterwards, he took to writing sermons and treatises on
theology and philosophy. His philosophy was a form of Christian Platonism. In
his approach to the Scriptures, he was heavily influenced by Origen, and his
writings on the Trinity and the Incarnation build on and develop insights found
in germ in the writings of his brother Basil. But he is chiefly remembered as a
writer on the spiritual life, on the contemplation of God, not only in private
prayer and meditation, but in corporate worship and in the sacramental life of
the Church.
His treatise On The Making of Man deals with God as Creator, and with the
world as a good thing, as something that God takes delight in, and that ought
to delight us. His Great Catechism is esteemed as a work of systematic
theology. His Commentary on the Song of Songs is a work of contemplative,
devotional, mystical theology. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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