OREMUS: 10 August 2007

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Thu Aug 9 19:39:50 GMT 2007

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OREMUS for Friday, August 10, 2007 
Laurence, Deacon at Rome, Martyr, 258

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

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 72

Give the king your justice, O God,*
 and your righteousness to the king's son;
That he may rule your people righteously*
 and the poor with justice;
That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,*
 and the little hills bring righteousness.
He shall defend the needy among the people;*
 he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.
He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure,*
 from one generation to another.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown field,*
 like showers that water the earth.
In his time shall the righteous flourish;*
 there shall be abundance of peace
   till the moon shall be no more.
He shall rule from sea to sea,*
 and from the River to the ends of the earth.
His foes shall bow down before him,*
 and his enemies lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute,*
 and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.
All kings shall bow down before him,*
 and all the nations do him service.
For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress,*
 and the oppressed who has no helper.
He shall have pity on the lowly and poor;*
 he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence,*
 and dear shall their blood be in his sight.
Long may he live,
   and may there be given to him gold from Arabia;*
 may prayer be made for him always,
   and may they bless him all the day long.
May there be abundance of grain on the earth,
   growing thick even on the hilltops;*
 may its fruit flourish like Lebanon,
   and its grain like grass upon the earth.
May his name remain for ever
   and be established as long as the sun endures;*
 may all the nations bless themselves in him
   and call him blessed.
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,*
 who alone does wondrous deeds!
And blessed be his glorious name for ever!*
 and may all the earth be filled with his glory.
   Amen. Amen.

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 147:1-12

   How good it is to sing praises to our God!*
 how pleasant it is to honour him with praise!
The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem;*
 he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted*
 and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars*
 and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;*
 there is no limit to his wisdom.
The Lord lifts up the lowly,*
 but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;*
 make music to our God upon the harp.
He covers the heavens with clouds*
 and prepares rain for the earth;
He makes grass to grow upon the mountains*
 and green plants to serve us all.
He provides food for flocks and herds*
 and for the young ravens when they cry.
He is not impressed by the might of a horse,*
 he has no pleasure in human strength;
But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear him,*
 in those who await his gracious favour.

FIRST READING [Isaiah 9:18-10:4]:

For wickedness burned like a fire,
   consuming briers and thorns;
it kindled the thickets of the forest,
   and they swirled upwards in a column of smoke.
Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts
   the land was burned,
and the people became like fuel for the fire;
   no one spared another.
They gorged on the right, but still were hungry,
   and they devoured on the left, but were not satisfied;
they devoured the flesh of their own kindred;
Manasseh devoured Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
   and together they were against Judah.
For all this, his anger has not turned away;
   his hand is stretched out still.

Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees,
   who write oppressive statutes,
to turn aside the needy from justice
   and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be your spoil,
   and that you may make the orphans your prey!
What will you do on the day of punishment,
   in the calamity that will come from far away?
To whom will you flee for help,
   and where will you leave your wealth,
so as not to crouch among the prisoners
   or fall among the slain?
For all this, his anger has not turned away;
   his hand is stretched out still. 

Words: Lawrence Tuttiett, 1861
Tune: Lancashire

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Go forward, Christian soldier,
beneath his banner true:
the Lord himself, thy Leader,
shall all thy foes subdue.
His love fortells thy trials;
he knows thine hourly need;
he can with bread of heaven
thy fainting spirit feed.

Go forward, Christian soldier,
fear not the secret foe;
far more o'er thee are watching
than human eyes can know:
trust only Christ, thy Captain;
cease not to watch and pray;
heed not the treacherous voices
that lure thy soul astray.

Go forward, Christian soldier,
nor dream of peaceful rest,
till Satan's host is vanquished
and heaven is all possessed;
till Christ himself shall call thee
to lay thine armor by,
and wear in endless glory
the crown of victory.

Go forward, Christian soldier,
fear not the gathering night:
the Lord has been thy shelter;
the Lord will be thy light.
When morn his face revealeth
thy dangers all are past:
O pray that faith and virtue
may keep thee to the last!

SECOND READING [Acts 7:1-8]:

Stephen said, 'Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our
ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to
him, "Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you."
Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died,
God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. He did not
give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him
as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. And
God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country
belonging to others, who would enslave them and maltreat them for four hundred
years. "But I will judge the nation that they serve," said God, "and after that they shall
come out and worship me in this place." Then he gave him the covenant of
circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the
eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.'

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

Let us pray to God for the coming of the Kingdom:

O God, into the pain of the tortured:
breathe stillness.

Into the hunger of those deprived:
breathe fullness.

Into those who have died in you:
breathe life.

Into those who long for you:
breathe your presence.

Into your Church,
shed forth your renewing Spirit.

Your kingdom come, your will be done:
For the kingdom, the power and the glory
are yours, now and for ever. 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 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

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 closing prayer use sentences from  prayers in _Opening Prayers: Collects in
Contemporary Language_. Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving is derived from Compline in the Orthodox tradition.

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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