OREMUS: 11 April 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Thu Apr 10 17:00:01 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Friday, April 11, 2008
William Law, Priest, Spiritual Writer, 1761

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Blessed are you, God of glory,
by the Spirit of the risen Christ
you gather us together;
for Christ is the one who walks with us,
who opens the scriptures
and breaks the bread of life.
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 73

Truly, God is good to Israel,*
 to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had nearly slipped;*
 I had almost tripped and fallen;
Because I envied the proud*
 and saw the prosperity of the wicked:
For they suffer no pain,*
 and their bodies are sleek and sound;
In the misfortunes of others they have no share;*
 they are not afflicted as others are;
Therefore they wear their pride like a necklace*
 and wrap their violence about them like a cloak.
Their iniquity comes from gross minds,*
 and their hearts overflow with wicked thoughts.
They scoff and speak maliciously;*
 out of their haughtiness they plan oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens,*
 and their evil speech runs through the world.
And so the people turn to them*
 and find in them no fault.
They say, 'How should God know?*
 is there knowledge in the Most High?'
So then, these are the wicked;*
 always at ease, they increase their wealth.
In vain have I kept my heart clean,*
 and washed my hands in innocence.
I have been afflicted all day long,*
 and punished every morning.
Had I gone on speaking this way,*
 I should have betrayed the generation of your children.
When I tried to understand these things,*
 it was too hard for me;
Until I entered the sanctuary of God*
 and discerned the end of the wicked.
Surely, you set them in slippery places;*
 you cast them down in ruin.
O how suddenly do they come to destruction,*
 come to an end and perish from terror!
Like a dream when one awakens, O Lord,*
 when you arise you will make their image vanish.
When my mind became embittered,*
 I was sorely wounded in my heart.
I was stupid and had no understanding;*
 I was like a brute beast in your presence.
Yet I am always with you;*
 you hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me by your counsel,*
 and afterwards receive me with glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?*
 and having you I desire nothing upon earth.
Though my flesh and my heart should waste away,*
 God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
Truly, those who forsake you will perish;*
 you destroy all who are unfaithful.
But it is good for me to be near God;*
 I have made the Lord God my refuge.
I will speak of all your works*
 in the gates of the city of Zion.

A Song of Solomon (cf Song of Solomon 8.6,7)

Set me as a seal upon your heart,  
as a seal upon your arm; 
For love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave;  
its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. 
Many waters cannot quench love,  
neither can the floods drown it. 
If all the wealth of our house were offered for love,  
it would be utterly scorned.

Psalm 149

   Sing to the Lord a new song;*
 sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in his maker;*
 let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance;*
 let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people*
 and adorns the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;*
 let them be joyful on their beds.
Let the praises of God be in their throat*
 and a two-edged sword in their hand;
To wreak vengeance on the nations*
 and punishment on the peoples;
To bind their kings in chains*
 and their nobles with links of iron;
To inflict on them the judgement decreed;*
 this is glory for all his faithful people.

FIRST READING [Isaiah 44:24-45:4]:

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
   who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord, who made all things,
   who alone stretched out the heavens,
   who by myself spread out the earth;
who frustrates the omens of liars,
   and makes fools of diviners;
who turns back the wise,
   and makes their knowledge foolish;
who confirms the word of his servant,
   and fulfils the prediction of his messengers;
who says of Jerusalem, 'It shall be inhabited',
   and of the cities of Judah, 'They shall be rebuilt,
   and I will raise up their ruins';
who says to the deep, 'Be dry 
   I will dry up your rivers';
who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd,
   and he shall carry out all my purpose';
and who says of Jerusalem, 'It shall be rebuilt',
   and of the temple, 'Your foundation shall be laid.'

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
   whose right hand I have grasped
to subdue nations before him
   and strip kings of their robes,
to open doors before him 
   and the gates shall not be closed:
I will go before you
   and level the mountains,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
   and cut through the bars of iron,
I will give you the treasures of darkness
   and riches hidden in secret places,
so that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
   the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
For the sake of my servant Jacob,
   and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
   I surname you, though you do not know me. 

Words: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), 1867
Tune: Bishopthorpe

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Immortal love, forever full,
forever flowing free,
forever shared, forever whole,
a never ebbing sea!

Our outward lips confess the name
all other names above;
love only knoweth whence it came,
and comprehendeth love.

We may not climb the heavenly steeps
to bring the Lord Christ down;
In vain we search the lowest deeps,
for him no depths can drown.

But warm, sweet, tender, even yet,
a present help is he;
and faith still has its Olivet,
and love its Galilee.

The healing of his seamless dress
is by our beds of pain;
we touch him in life's throng and press,
and we are whole again.

Through him the first fond prayers are said
our lips of childhood frame,
the last low whispers of our dead
are burdened with his Name.

O Lord and Master of us all,
whate'er our name or sign,
we own thy sway, we hear thy call,
we test our lives by thine.

SECOND READING [1 Peter 5:1-7]:

Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who
shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of
God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but
willingly, as God would have you do it not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it
over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd
appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. In the same way, you
who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe
yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
'God opposes the proud,
   but gives grace to the humble.'
 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you
in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 

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

In joy and hope we pray.

That our risen Savior may fill us with the joy
of his glorious and life-giving resurrection:
Lord, hear our prayer.

That isolated and persecuted churches
may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter:
Lord, hear our prayer.

That God may grant us humility
to be subject to one another in Christian love:
Lord, hear our prayer.

That God may help us to provide for those
who lack food, work or shelter:
Lord, hear our prayer.

That by God's power we may bring
wars and famine to cease through all the world:
Lord, hear our prayer.

That God may strengthen us to be his presence
to the sick, the weak and the dying:
Lord, hear our prayer.

That God may send upon us the fire of the Holy Spirit,
that we may be faithful witness to his resurrection:
Lord, hear our prayer.

Most High,
you know our faithlessness and our blindness
to the rewards of goodness.
Guide us with your counsel
and be the strength of our hearts,
that we may not fall 
but rejoice in the life of your eternal city;
through Jesus Christ our Mediator. Amen.

O God, 
you kindled the flame of your love
in the heart of William Law 
and made him a shining light and sure guide
in calling many to the devout and holy life.
Grant us so to practice 
the rule and discipline of faith,
that we may walk in the ways of your love
as children of the light;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Rejoicing in the God's new creation,
let us pray as our Redeemer has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

Make our hearts burn to go back to the world
and speak your word of life in Jesus' Name. 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 a prayer by
Alan Griffiths.
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.

William Law, born in 1686, became a Fellow of Emmanuel College,
Cambridge in 1711, but in 1714, at the death of Queen Anne, he became a
non-Juror: that is to say, he found himself unable to take the required oath of
allegiance to the Hanoverian dynasty (who had replaced the Stuart dynasty) as
the lawful rulers of the United Kingdom, and was accordingly ineligible to
serve as a university teacher or parish minister. He became for ten years a
private tutor in the family of the historian Edward Gibbon (who, despite his
generally cynical attitude toward all things Christian, invariably wrote of Law
with respect and admiration), and then retired to his native King's Cliffe.
Forbidden the use of the pulpit and the lecture-hall, he preached through his
books. These include Christian Perfection, The Spirit Of Love, The Spirit Of
Prayer, and, best-known of all, A Serious Call To A Devout And Holy Life,
published in 1728. The thesis of this last book is that God does not merely
forgive our disobedience, he calls us to obedience, and to a life completely
centered in Him. He says: "If you will here stop and ask yourself why you are
not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you that
it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but because you never thoroughly
intended it."

The immediate influence of the book was considerable.

Dr. Samuel Johnson said (Boswell's Life Of Johnson, ch. 1): "I became a sort
of lax talker against religion, for I did not think much against it; and this lasted
until I went to Oxford, where it would not be suffered. When at Oxford, I took
up Law's Serious Call, expecting to find it a dull book (as such books generally
are), and perhaps to laugh at it. But I found Law quite an overmatch for me;
and this was the first occasion of my thinking in earnest of religion after I
became capable of rational inquiry."

Gibbon (as mentioned above) said: "If Mr. Law finds a spark of piety in a
reader's mind, he will soon kindle it into a flame."

John Wesley calls it one of three books which accounted for his first "explicit
resolve to be all devoted to God." Later, when denying, in response to a
question, that Methodism was founded on Law's writings, he added that
"Methodists carefully read these books and were greatly profitted by them." In
1744 he published extracts from the Serious Call, thereby introducing it to a
wider audience than it already had. About eighteen months before his death, he
called it "a treatise which will hardly be excelled, if it be equalled, either for
beauty of expression or for depth of thought."

Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Henry Venn, William Wilberforce, and
Thomas Scott each described reading the book as a major turning-point in his
life. All in all, there were few leaders of the English Evangelical movement on
whom it did not have a profound influence.

Some Christians have considered Law's work inadequate, as not sufficiently
concerned with Justification by Faith, to which objection Law would doubtless
have replied: "But I never offered it as a complete presentation of the Gospel,
only as a reminder of the words, 'Go and sin no more,' which are surely a part
of the Gospel."

    For surely they mistake the whole nature of religion, who can think any part
of their life is made more easy, for being free from it. They may well be said to
mistake the whole nature of wisdom, who do not think it desirable to be always
wise. -- A Serious Call [James Kiefer, abridged]

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