OREMUS: 7 March 2007

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Mar 6 20:43:10 GMT 2007

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OREMUS for Wednesday, March 7, 2007 
Perpetua, Felicity and their Companions, Martyrs at Carthage, 203

O God, make speed to save us;
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Blessed are you, God of compassion and mercy:
you accepted the sacrifice of your Son,
who have himself up for the sake of all.
You train us by his teaching
and school us in his obedience,
that as we walk his way of sacrifice,
we may come to share in your glory.
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 108

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;*
 I will sing and make melody.
Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp;*
 I myself will waken the dawn.
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord;*
 I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,*
 and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,*
 and your glory over all the earth.
So that those who are dear to you may be delivered,*
 save with your right hand and answer me.

Psalm 143

Lord, hear my prayer,
   and in your faithfulness heed my supplications;*
 answer me in your righteousness.
Enter not into judgement with your servant,*
 for in your sight shall no one living be justified.
For my enemy has sought my life
   and has crushed me to the ground;*
 making me live in dark places
   like those who are long dead.
My spirit faints within me;*
 my heart within me is desolate.
I remember the time past;
   I muse upon all your deeds;*
 I consider the works of your hands.
I spread out my hands to you;*
 my soul gasps to you like a thirsty land.
O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me;*
 do not hide your face from me
   or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning,
   for I put my trust in you;*
 show me the road that I must walk,
   for I lift up my soul to you.
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord,*
 for I flee to you for refuge.
Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God;*
 let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Revive me, O Lord, for your name's sake;*
 for your righteousness' sake, bring me out of trouble.

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.

FIRST READING [2 Chronicles 20:1-22]:

After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some
of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle.
Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, 'A great multitude
is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea;
already they are at Hazazon-tamar' (that is, En-gedi).
Jehoshaphat was afraid; he set himself to seek the Lord,
and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. Judah
assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the towns
of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem,
in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said,
'O Lord, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven?
Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In
your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to
withstand you. Did you not, O our God, drive out the
inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and
give it for ever to the descendants of your friend
Abraham? They have lived in it, and in it have built you
a sanctuary for your name, saying, "If disaster comes
upon us, the sword, judgement, or pestilence, or famine,
we will stand before this house, and before you, for your
name is in this house, and cry to you in our distress,
and you will hear and save." See now, the people of
Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom you would not let
Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and
whom they avoided and did not destroy  they reward us by
coming to drive us out of your possession that you have
given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute
judgement upon them? For we are powerless against this
great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know
what to do, but our eyes are on you.'

Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their
little ones, their wives, and their children. Then the
spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah,
son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite
of the sons of Asaph, in the middle of the assembly. He
said, 'Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you: "Do not
fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the
battle is not yours but God's. Tomorrow go down against
them; they will come up by the ascent of Ziz; you will
find them at the end of the valley, before the wilderness
of Jeruel. This battle is not for you to fight; take your
position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on
your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem." Do not fear or be
dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will
be with you.'

Then Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground,
and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down
before the Lord, worshipping the Lord. And the Levites,
of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise
the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

They rose early in the morning and went out into the
wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat
stood and said, 'Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of
Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God and you will be
established; believe his prophets.' When he had taken
counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to
sing to the Lord and praise him in holy splendour, as
they went before the army, saying,
'Give thanks to the Lord,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever.'
As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush
against the Ammonites, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come
against Judah, so that they were routed. 

Words: Claudia F. Hernaman, 1873
Tune: St. Flavian    
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Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us didst fast and pray,
teach us with thee to mourn our sins,
and close by thee to stay.

As thou with Satan didst contend
and didst the victory win,
O give us strength in thee to fight,
in thee to conquer sin.

As thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and chiefly live
by thy most holy word.

And through these days of penitence,
and through thy Passiontide,
yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesus! with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life
of suffering over-past,
an Easter of unending joy
we may attain at last!

SECOND READING [Luke 13:22-31]:

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to
Jerusalem. Someone asked him, 'Lord, will only a few be saved?' He said to them,
'Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will
not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you
begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, "Lord, open to us", then in
reply he will say to you, "I do not know where you come from." Then you will begin
to say, "We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets." But he will say, "I
do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!" There will
be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all
the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will
come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.
Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.'
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, 'Get away from here, for
Herod wants to kill you.' 

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

Teach us, O Lord, the way of your statutes:
And lead us in the path of your commandments.

Keep our nation under your care:
And guide us in justice and truth.

O Lord, deal graciously with your servants;
teach us discernment and knowledge.

Let not the needy be forgotten:
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Guide the meek in judgement:
And teach your ways to the gentle.

Lord, remember your people:
Whom you have purchased and redeemed of old.

We pray for your Church, O Lord, especially
the Diocese of Brandon, Canada, The Rt Revd James Njegovan, Bishop.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O God, 
you so loved the world 
that you gave your only-begotten Son 
to reconcile earth with heaven: 
Grant that we, loving you above all things,
may love our friends in you, 
and our enemies for your sake; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy God,
who gave great courage to Perpetua, Felicity and their companions:
grant that we may be worthy to climb the ladder of sacrifice
and be received into the garden of peace;
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.
Trusting in the compassion of God,
let us pray as our Savior taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

Help us, O God, to be obedient to your call
to love all your children,
to do justice and show mercy,
and to live in peace with your whole creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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 adapts phrases from _Opening
Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_. Canterbury Press,
Norwich, 1999.

The closing sentence is from _New Patterns for Worship_,
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

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.

The moving, contemporary account of these early third-century, African
martyrs proved to be of great significance in the life of the early Church. Vibia
Perpetua was a young, married noblewoman of Carthage and Felicity was her
personal slave. Saturas was possibly a priest and there were two other men,
Saturninus and Revocatus, the latter also a slave. Felicity was pregnant. It
seems most of them were catechumens when arrested and only baptised later in
prison. They were condemned as Christians by the Roman authorities and
dispatched to the public arena, there to be mauled by wild animals. They all
survived and were then taken to be executed by the sword. Before this, they all
exchanged the Kiss of Peace and affirmed their faith in Christ, the Son of God.
The contemporary account was much circulated secretly throughout the
Christian congregations and proved both to give renown to their courage and
to give encouragement to their fellow Christians in the face of adversity. They
were martyred for their faith on this day in the year 203. [Exciting Holiness]

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