OREMUS: 28 June 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Jun 27 17:00:02 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Wednesday, June 28, 2006 
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, Teacher of the Faith, c.200

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

Blessed are you, merciful God;
for setting us free in Jesus Christ
with a power greater than all that would keep us captive.
You call us to turn from the ways of the world
and to accept the fullness of joy in the Spirit
and follow the way of the cross,
which frees us to love one another
for the sake of all creation.
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 40

I waited patiently upon the Lord;*
 he stooped to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the desolate pit,
   out of the mire and clay;*
 he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
   a song of praise to our God;*
 many shall see and stand in awe
   and put their trust in the Lord.
Happy are they who trust in the Lord!*
 they do not resort to evil spirits or turn to false gods.
Great things are they that you have done, O Lord my God!
   how great your wonders and your plans for us!*
 there is none who can be compared with you.
O that I could make them known and tell them!*
 but they are more than I can count.
In sacrifice and offering you take no pleasure*
 you have given me ears to hear you;
Burnt-offering and sin-offering you have not required,*
 and so I said, 'Behold, I come.
'In the roll of the book it is written concerning me:*
 "I love to do your will, O my God;
 your law is deep in my heart."'
I proclaimed righteousness in the great congregation;*
 behold, I did not restrain my lips;
 and that, O Lord, you know.
Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart;
   I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance;*
 I have not concealed your love and faithfulness
   from the great congregation.
You are the Lord;
   do not withhold your compassion from me;*
 let your love and your faithfulness keep me safe for ever,
For innumerable troubles have crowded upon me;
   my sins have overtaken me and I cannot see;*
 they are more in number than the hairs of my head,
   and my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;*
 O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed
   who seek after my life to destroy it;*
 let them draw back and be disgraced
   who take pleasure in my misfortune.
Let those who say 'Aha!' and gloat over me be confounded,*
 because they are ashamed.
Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad;*
 let those who love your salvation continually say,
   'Great is the Lord!'
Though I am poor and afflicted,*
 the Lord will have regard for me.
You are my helper and my deliverer;*
 do not tarry, O my God.

A Song of Redemption (Colossians 1.13-18a,19,20a)

The Father has delivered us from the dominion of darkness,
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son;

In whom we have redemption,
the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.

For in him all things were created,
in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.

All things were created through him and for him,
he is before all things and in him all things hold together.

He is the head of the body, the Church,
he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.

In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell;
and through him God was pleased to reconcile all things.

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 Peter 2:1-10]:

Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile,
insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants,
long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may
grow into salvation  if indeed you have tasted that the
Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals
yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living
stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house,
to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in
'See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
   a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.'

To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those
who do not believe,
'The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the very head of the corner',
'A stone that makes them stumble,
   and a rock that makes them fall.'
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were
destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim
the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness
into his marvellous light.
Once you were not a people,
   but now you are God's people;
once you had not received mercy,
   but now you have received mercy. 

For another Biblical reading,
1 Samuel 20:24-42

Words:  Latin, eighth century; trans. John Chandler, 1837
Tune: Harewood, Gopsal    
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Christ is our cornerstone,
on him alone we build;
with his true saints alone
the courts of heaven are filled:
on his great love
our hopes we place
of present grace
and joys above.

O then with hymns of praise
these hallowed courts shall ring;
our voices we will raise
the Three in One to sing;
and thus proclaim
in joyful song
both loud and long
that glorious Name.

Here, gracious Lord, do thou
for evermore draw nigh;
accept each faithful vow,
and mark each suppliant sigh:
in copious shower
on all who pray,
each holy day
thy blessings pour.

Here may we gain from heaven
the grace which we implore;
and may that grace, once given,
be with us evermore,
until that day
when all the blest
to endless rest
are called away.

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

Under your holy wings, you gather us, O God,
and you shelter us by your grace.

Together in faith communities, 
you call us share your love and mercy.
Gather us in, O God.

We give you thanks for all that gives shape to life in community:
devotion to apostolic teaching,
sharing in fellowship around your Word and Table,
continuous prayer for the world and the Church.
Gather us in, O God.

Save your Church from formless piety.
Gather us in, O God.

Help families and the leaders of households to pattern faith.
Gather us in, O God.

Choose and renew our leaders for disciple-making.
Gather us in, O God.

Uphold those who seek peace with justice.
Gather us in, O God.

Give light to all who strive to discern what is right.
Gather us in, O God.

Comfort the dying.
Gather us in, O God.

Heal the broken and suffering.
Gather us in, O God.

God our Savior,
hear our prayer for all who suffer at the hands of others,
and especially for those who suffer for the sake of justice.
Raise and comfort them,
and lead us all in the paths of loving service.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

God of peace, 
who through the ministry of your servant Irenaeus 
strengthened the true faith 
and brought harmony to your Church: 
keep us steadfast in your true religion, 
and renew us in faith and love, 
that we may always 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

Keep us true to the way of your Son,
that we may leave behind all that hinders us
and, with eyes fixed on him,
walk surely in the path of the kingdom. 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 uses phrases from two prayers reprinted
from _Revised Common Lectionary Prayers_, copyright (c)
2002 Consultation on Common Texts

The intercession is reprinted from _THE DAILY OFFICE: A Book of Hours of Daily Prayer after the
Use of the Order of Saint Luke_, (c) 1997 by The Order of Saint Luke. Used by permission.

The first collect is from _Daily Prayer_, copyright (c) The
Scottish Episcopal Church, 1998. Used with permission. 

The closing prayer are adapted from prayers 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.

Irenaeus (pronounced ear-a-NAY-us) was probably born around 125. As a
young man in Smyrna (near Ephesus, in what is now western Turkey) he heard
the preaching of Polycarp, who as a young man had heard the preaching of the
Apostle John. Afterward, probably while still a young man, Polycarp moved
west to Lyons in southern France. In 177, Pothinus, the bishop of Lyons, sent
him on a mission to Rome. During his absence a severe persecution broke out
in Lyons, claiming the lives of the bishop and others (see 2 June). When
Irenaeus returned to Lyons, he was made bishop. He died around 202. He is
thus an important link between the apostolic church and later times, and also
an important link between Eastern and Western Christianity.
His principal work is the Refutation of Heresies, a defense of orthodox
Christianity against its Gnostic rivals. A shorter work is his Proof of the
Apostolic Preaching, a brief summary of Christian teaching, largely concerned
with Christ as the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. An interesting bit of
trivia about this latter book is that it is, as far as I know, the first Christian
writing to refer to the earth as a sphere.
One of the earliest heresies to arise in the Christian church was Gnosticism,
and Irenaeus was one of its chief early opponents. Not all Gnostics believed
exactly the same thing, but the general outlines of the belief are fairly clear.
Gnostics were dualists, teaching that there are two great opposing forces: good
versus evil, light versus darkness, knowledge versus ignorance, spirit versus
matter. Since the world is material, and leaves much room for improvement,
they denied that God had made it. "How can the perfect produce the imperfect,
the infinite produce the finite, the spiritual produce the material?" they asked.
The Gnostics were Docetists (pronounced do-SEE-tists). This word comes
from the Greek word meaning "to seem." They taught that Christ did not really
have a material body, but only seemed to have one. It was an appearance, so
that he could communicate with men, but was not really there. (If holograms
had been known then, they would certainly have said that the supposed body of
Jesus was a hologram.) They went on to say that Jesus was not really born, and
did not really suffer or die, but merely appeared to do so. It was in opposition
to early Gnostic teachers that the Apostle John wrote (1 John 4:1-3) that
anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of antiChrist.
Gnostics claimed to be Christians, but Christians with a difference. They said
that Jesus had had two doctrines: one a doctrine fit for the common man, and
preached to everyone, and the other an advanced teaching, kept secret from
the multitudes, fit only for the chosen few, the spiritually elite. They, the
Gnostics, were the spiritually elite, and although the doctrines taught in the
churches were not exactly wrong, and were in fact as close to the truth as the
common man could hope to come, it was to the Gnostics that one must turn
for the real truth. 
In opposition to this idea, Irenaeus maintained that the Gospel message is for
everyone. He was perhaps the first to speak of the Church as "Catholic"
(universal). In using this term, he made three contrasts:
   1. He contrasted the over-all church with the single local congregation, so
that one spoke of the Church in Ephesus, but also of the Catholic Church, of
which the Churches in Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, Antioch, etc. were local
branches or chapters.
   2. He contrasted Christianity with Judaism, in that the task of Judaism was to
preserve the knowledge of the one God by establishing a solid national base for
it among a single people, but the task of Christianity was to set out from that
base to preach the Truth to all nations.
   3. He contrasted Christianity with Gnosticism, in that the Gnostics claimed to
have a message only for the few with the right aptitudes and temperaments,
whereas the Christian Gospel was to be proclaimed to all men everywhere.
Irenaeus then went on to say: If Jesus did have a special secret teaching, to
whom would He entrust it? Clearly, to His disciples, to the Twelve, who were
with Him constantly, and to whom he spoke without reservation (Mark 4:34).
And was the teaching of the Twelve different from that of Paul? Here the
Gnostics, and others since, have tried to drive a wedge between Paul and the
original Apostles, but Peter writes of Paul in the highest terms (2 Peter 3:15),
as one whose teaching is authentic. Again, we find Paul saying to the elders of
the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:27), that he has declared to them the whole
counsel of God. Where, then, do we look for Christ's authentic teaching? In the
congregations that were founded by the apostles, who set trustworthy men in
charge of them, and charged them to pass on the teaching unchanged to future
generations through carefully chosen successors. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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