OREMUS: 23 February 2007

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Thu Feb 22 20:31:51 GMT 2007

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OREMUS for Friday, February 23, 2007 
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,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In the darkness of our sin,
your light breaks forth like the dawn
and your healing springs up for deliverance.
As we rejoice in the gift of your saving help,
sustain us with your bountiful Spirit
and open our lips to sing your praise:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 119:41-64

Let your loving-kindness come to me, O Lord,*
 and your salvation, according to your promise.
Then shall I have a word for those who taunt me,*
 because I trust in your words.
Do not take the word of truth out of my mouth,*
 for my hope is in your judgements.
I shall continue to keep your law;*
 I shall keep it for ever and ever.
I will walk at liberty,*
 because I study your commandments.
I will tell of your decrees before kings*
 and will not be ashamed.
I delight in your commandments,*
 which I have always loved.
I will lift up my hands to your commandments,*
 and I will meditate on your statutes.

Psalm 119:49-56

Remember your word to your servant,*
 because you have given me hope.
This is my comfort in my trouble,*
 that your promise gives me life.
The proud have derided me cruelly,*
 but I have not turned from your law.
When I remember your judgements of old,*
 O Lord, I take great comfort.
I am filled with a burning rage,*
 because of the wicked who forsake your law.
Your statutes have been like songs to me*
 wherever I have lived as a stranger.
I remember your name in the night, O Lord,*
 and dwell upon your law.
This is how it has been with me,*
 because I have kept your commandments.

You only are my portion, O Lord;*
 I have promised to keep your words.
I entreat you with all my heart,*
 be merciful to me according to your promise.

I have considered my ways*
 and turned my feet towards your decrees.
I hasten and do not tarry*
 to keep your commandments.
Though the cords of the wicked entangle me,*
 I do not forget your law.
At midnight I will rise to give you thanks,*
 because of your righteous judgements.
I am a companion of all who fear you*
 and of those who keep your commandments.
The earth, O Lord, is full of your love;*
 instruct me in your statutes.

A Song of Christ the Servant (1 Peter 2.21b-25

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,
that you should follow in his steps.

He committed no sin, no guile was found on his lips,
when he was reviled, he did not revile in turn.

When he suffered, he did not threaten,
but he trusted himself to God who judges justly.

Christ himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

By his wounds, you have been healed,
for you were straying like sheep,
but have now returned
cato the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

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 [Exodus 6:1-13]:

The Lord said to Moses, 'Now you shall see what I will do
to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go;
by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.'
God also spoke to Moses and said to him: 'I am the Lord.
I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty,
but by my name "The Lord" I did not make myself known to
them. I also established my covenant with them, to give
them the land of Canaan, the land in which they resided
as aliens. I have also heard the groaning of the
Israelites, whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and
I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the
Israelites, "I am the Lord, and I will free you from the
burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to
them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with
mighty acts of judgement. I will take you as my people,
and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord
your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the
Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to
give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you
for a possession. I am the Lord." ' Moses told this to
the Israelites; but they would not listen to Moses,
because of their broken spirit and their cruel
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, 'Go and tell Pharaoh king
of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his land.' But
Moses spoke to the Lord, 'The Israelites have not
listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh listen to me, poor
speaker that I am?' Thus the Lord spoke to Moses and
Aaron, and gave them orders regarding the Israelites and
Pharaoh king of Egypt, charging them to free the
Israelites from the land of Egypt. 

Words: John and Charles Wesley, 1745
Tune: Das neugeborne Kindelein
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O thou, before the world began,
ordained a sacrifice for man,
and by the eternal Spirit made
an offering in the sinner's stead;
our everlasting Priest art thou,
pleading thy death for sinners now.

Thy offering still continues new
before the righteous Father's view;
thyself the Lamb forever slain;
thy priesthood doth unchanged remain;
thy years, O God, can never fail,
nor thy blest work within the veil.

O that our faith may never move,
but stand unshaken as thy love,
sure evidence of things unseen;
now let it pass the years between
and view thee bleeding on the tree:
my Lord, my God, who dies for me.

SECOND READING [Acts 7:35-42]:

Stephen said, 'It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, "Who made you
a ruler and a judge?" and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the
angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out, having performed wonders
and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the
Moses who said to the Israelites, "God will raise up a prophet for you from your own
people as he raised me up." He is the one who was in the congregation in the
wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors;
and he received living oracles to give to us. Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him;
instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, saying to
Aaron, "Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us
out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him." At that time
they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and revelled in the works of their
hands. But God turned away from them and handed them over to worship the host of
heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
"Did you offer to me slain victims and sacrifices
   for forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?'

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

Merciful God, we praise you that you give strength for
every weakness, forgiveness for our failures, and new
beginnings in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for
     the guidance of your Spirit through this day... 
                                (We thank you, Lord.)
     signs of new life and hope...
     people who have helped us...
     those who struggle for justice...
     expressions of love unexpected or undeserved...

Almighty God, you know all needs before we speak our
prayers, yet you welcome our concerns for others in Jesus
Christ. Especially we pray for
     those who keep watch over the sick and dying...
                                (Lord, hear our prayer.)
     those who weep with the grieving...
     those who are without faith 
     and cannot accept your love...
     those who grow old...
     Reformed, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches...
     the Diocese of Bida, Nigeria, The Rt Revd Jonah Kolo, Bishop...

Support us, O Lord, with your gracious favor 
through the fast we have begun; 
that as we observe it by bodily self-denial, 
so we may fulfill it with inner sincerity of heart; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. 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

Christ give us grace to grow in holiness,
to deny ourselves,
take up our cross, and follow him. 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 opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are adapted from
prayers in _Book of Common Worship_, (c) 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
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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