OREMUS: 31 July 2007

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Mon Jul 30 18:10:42 GMT 2007

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OREMUS for Tuesday, July 31, 2007 
Joseph of Arimathea

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

Blessed are you, O God,
the giver of every gift that endures.
By the word of your Son,
you challenge our foolishness,
confront our greed,
and shape our lives
to the wisdom of the Gospel.
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 120

When I was in trouble I called to the Lord,*
 I called to the Lord and he answered me.
Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips*
 and from the deceitful tongue.
What shall be done to you and what more besides,*
 O you deceitful tongue?
The sharpened arrows of a warrior,*
 along with hot glowing coals.
How hateful it is that I must lodge in Meshech*
 and dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had to live*
 among the enemies of peace.
I am on the side of peace,*
 but when I speak of it, they are for war.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills;*
 from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the Lord,*
 the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved*
 and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel*
 shall neither slumber nor sleep;
The Lord himself watches over you;*
 the Lord is your shade at your right hand,
So that the sun shall not strike you by day,*
 nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;*
 it is he who shall keep you safe.
The Lord shall watch over your going out
   and your coming in,*
 from this time forth for evermore.

Psalm 122

I was glad when they said to me,*
 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'
Now our feet are standing*
 within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built as a city*
 that is at unity with itself.
To which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,*
 the assembly of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord.
For there are the thrones of judgement,*
 the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:*
 'May they prosper who love you.
'Peace be within your walls*
 and quietness within your towers.
'For my family and companions' sake,*
 I pray for your prosperity.
'Because of the house of the Lord our God,*
 I will seek to do you good.'

A Song of the Lamb (from Revelation 19)

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
 whose judgements are true and just.

Praise our God, all you his servants,
 all who fear him, both small and great.

The Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns:
 let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory.

The marriage of the Lamb has come
 and his bride has made herself ready.

Blessed are those who are invited
 to the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
 be blessing and honour and glory and might,
 for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 146

   Praise the Lord, O my soul!*
 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in rulers,
   nor in any child of earth,*
 for there is no help in them.
When they breathe their last, they return to earth,*
 and in that day their thoughts perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob
   for their help!*
 whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas,
   and all that is in them;*
 who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,*
 and food to those who hunger.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
   the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;*
 the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous;
   the Lord cares for the stranger;*
 he sustains the orphan and widow,
   but frustrates the way of the wicked.
The Lord shall reign for ever,*
 your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

FIRST READING [Hosea 6:1-10]:

'Come, let us return to the Lord;
   for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;
   he has struck down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
   on the third day he will raise us up,
   that we may live before him.
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
   his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers,
   like the spring rains that water the earth.'

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
   What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
   like the dew that goes away early.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
   I have killed them by the words of my mouth,
   and my judgement goes forth as the light.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
   the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings.

But at Adam they transgressed the covenant;
   there they dealt faithlessly with me.
Gilead is a city of evildoers,
   tracked with blood.
As robbers lie in wait for someone,
   so the priests are banded together;
they murder on the road to Shechem,
   they commit a monstrous crime.
In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
   Ephraim's whoredom is there, Israel is defiled. 

Words: attributed to Ambrose of Milan, fourth century;
trans. John Ellerton and Fenton John Anthony Hort, 1870
Tune: Strength and Stay, Welwyn
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O Strength and Stay upholding all creation,
who ever dost thyself unmoved abide;
yet day by day the light in due gradation
from hour to hour through all its changes guide.

Grant to life's day a calm unclouded ending,
An eve untouched by shadows of decay,
the brightness of a holy deathbed blending
With dawning glories of the eternal day.

Hear us, O Father, gracious and forgiving,
through Jesus Christ thy co-eternal Word,
who, with the Holy Ghost, by all things living
Now and to endless ages art adored.

SECOND READING [Romans 9:30-10:4]:

 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained
it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness
that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they
did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have
stumbled over the stumbling-stone, as it is written,
'See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make
them fall,
   and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.'

Brothers and sisters, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be
saved. I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being
ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own,
they have not submitted to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so
that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. 

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

God our Father,
you gave your Son, Jesus Christ
to share our life on earth,
to grow in wisdom,
to toil with his hands,
and to make known the ways of your kingdom.

We pray for the community
those who work....
the unemployed....
those in education....
those in research....
those in communications....
those who maintain the life of the community....
the Church, especially 

God our Father, we give you thanks
for Christ's revelation of yourself,
his care for people,
and his joy in obedience....
for the value he gave to human labour,
the strength he promised us for service,
the call to follow in his way....
for all opportunities of work and of leisure,
all truth that we have learned,
and all discoveries that we have made....

Give us growing reverence for the truth,
and such wisdom in the use of knowledge
that your kingdom may be advanced
and your name glorified;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God of our joy and gladness,
hear our prayer for the peace of this world
and bring us at last,
with all our companions in faith,
to the peace of that city where you live and reign,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
now and to all eternity. Amen.

Merciful God, 
whose servant Joseph of Arimathea 
with reverence and godly fear 
prepared the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, 
and laid it in his own tomb: 
Grant to us, your faithful people, 
grace and courage to love and serve Jesus 
with sincere devotion all the days of our life; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and 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 opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing prayer use sentences from 
prayers in _Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_.
Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

The second collect is from _The Proper for the Lesser Feasts and
Fasts_, 3rd edition, (c) 1980 The Church Pension Fund.

The Gospels tell us that after the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathaea,
wealthy, a member of the Council, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and
buried it with honor in the tomb he had intended for himself. This is our only
information about him from writers of his own century.
Later tradition has embellished this account. It is said that Joseph was a distant
relative of the family of Jesus; that he derived his wealth from tin mines in
Cornwall, which he visited from time to time; and that Jesus as a teenager
accompanied Joseph on one such visit. This is the background of the poem
"Jerusalem," by William Blake.
After the Crucifixion, we are told, Joseph returned to Cornwall, bringing the
chalice of the Last Supper, known as the Holy Grail. Reaching Glastonbury, he
planted his staff, which took root and blossomed into a thorn tree. The Grail
was hidden, and part of the great national epic ("the matter of Britain") deals
with the unsuccessful quest of the knights of King Arthur to find the Grail. The
Thorn Tree remained at Glastonbury, flowering every year on Christmas day,
and King Charles I baited the Roman Catholic chaplain of his queen by
pointing out that, although Pope Gregory had proclaimed a reform of the
calendar, the Glastonbury Thorn ignored the Pope's decree and continued to
blossom on Christmas Day according to the Old Calendar. The Thorn was cut
down by one of Cromwell's soldiers on the grounds that it was a relic of
superstition, and it is said that as it fell, its thorns blinded the axeman in one
eye. A tree allegedly grown from a cutting from the original Thorn survives
today in Glastonbury (and trees propagated from it stand on the grounds of the
Cathedral in Washington, DC, and presumably elsewhere) and leaves from it
are sold in all the tourist shops in Glastonbury.
Has the Glastonbury legend any basis at all in history? Two facts and some
speculations follow:
Tin, an essential ingredient of bronze, was highly valued in ancient times, and
Phoenician ships imported tin from Cornwall. It is a pretty safe guess that in
the first century the investors who owned shares in the Cornwall tin trade
included at least a few Jewish Christians.
Christianity gained a foothold in Britain very early, probably earlier than in
Gaul. It may have been brought there by the traffic of the Cornwall tin trade. If
so, then the early British Christians would have a tradition that they had been
evangelized by a wealthy Jewish Christian. If they had forgotten his name, it
would be natural to consult the Scriptures to see what mention was made of
early wealthy Jewish converts. Joseph and Barnabas are almost the only ones
named, and much of the life of Barnabas is already accounted for by the book
of Acts, which makes him an unsatisfactory candidate. Hence, those who do
not like to be vague would say, not, "We were evangelized by some wealthy
Jewish Christian whose name we have forgotten," but, "We were evangelized
by Joseph of Arimathaea."
Why spend time on any of the above? Because the folk-tales of a community
are part of the heritage of a community. Someone wishing to understand the
United States will be well advised to familiarize himself with the stories of
George Washington's cherry tree and Paul Revere's ride, although he ought not
to confuse them with history. [James Kiefer]

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