OREMUS: 20 August 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Aug 19 17:00:51 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, Teacher of the Faith, 1153

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

Blessed are you, everloving Father,
your care extends beyond
the boundaries of race and nation,
to the hearts of all who live.
Your Spirit fills us with a living faith,
that we may receive your gift of mercy
and come to sit at the table of your heavenly banquet.
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 18:1-20

I love you, O Lord my strength,*
 O Lord my stronghold, my crag and my haven.
My God, my rock in whom I put my trust,*
 my shield, the horn of my salvation and my refuge;
   you are worthy of praise.
I will call upon the Lord,*
 and so shall I be saved from my enemies.
The breakers of death rolled over me,*
 and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.
The cords of hell entangled me,*
 and the snares of death were set for me.
I called upon the Lord in my distress*
 and cried out to my God for help.
He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling;*
 my cry of anguish came to his ears.
The earth reeled and rocked;*
 the roots of the mountains shook;
   they reeled because of his anger.
Smoke rose from his nostrils
   and a consuming fire out of his mouth;*
 hot burning coals blazed forth from him.
He parted the heavens and came down*
 with a storm cloud under his feet.
He mounted on cherubim and flew;*
 he swooped on the wings of the wind.
He wrapped darkness about him;*
 he made dark waters and thick clouds his pavilion.
>From the brightness of his presence, through the clouds,*
 burst hailstones and coals of fire.
The Lord thundered out of heaven;*
 the Most High uttered his voice.
He loosed his arrows and scattered them;*
 he hurled thunderbolts and routed them.
The beds of the seas were uncovered,
   and the foundations of the world laid bare,*
 at your battle cry, O Lord,
   at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
He reached down from on high and grasped me;*
 he drew me out of great waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemies
   and from those who hated me;*
 for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster;*
 but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into an open place;*
 he rescued me because he delighted in me.

A Song of Redemption (Colossians 1.13-18a,19,20a)

The Father has delivered us from the dominion of darkness,  
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son; 
In whom we have redemption,  
the forgiveness of our sins. 
He is the image of the invisible God,  
the firstborn of all creation. 
For in him all things were created,  
in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. 
All things were created through him and for him,  
he is before all things and in him all things hold together. 
He is the head of the body, the Church,  
he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. 
In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell;  
and through him God was pleased to reconcile all things. 

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 [Ecclesiasticus 4:20-5:7]:

Watch for the opportune time, and beware of evil,
   and do not be ashamed to be yourself.
For there is a shame that leads to sin,
   and there is a shame that is glory and favour.
Do not show partiality, to your own harm,
   or deference, to your downfall.
Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment,
   and do not hide your wisdom.
For wisdom becomes known through speech,
   and education through the words of the tongue.
Never speak against the truth,
   but be ashamed of your ignorance.
Do not be ashamed to confess your sins,
   and do not try to stop the current of a river.
Do not subject yourself to a fool,
   or show partiality to a ruler.
Fight to the death for truth,
   and the Lord God will fight for you.

Do not be reckless in your speech,
   or sluggish and remiss in your deeds.
Do not be like a lion in your home,
   or suspicious of your servants.
Do not let your hand be stretched out to receive
   and closed when it is time to give.

Do not rely on your wealth,
   or say, 'I have enough.'
Do not follow your inclination and strength
   in pursuing the desires of your heart.
Do not say, 'Who can have power over me?'
   for the Lord will surely punish you.

Do not say, 'I sinned, yet what has happened to me?'
   for the Lord is slow to anger.
Do not be so confident of forgiveness
   that you add sin to sin.
Do not say, 'His mercy is great,
   he will forgive the multitude of my sins',
for both mercy and wrath are with him,
   and his anger will rest on sinners.
Do not delay to turn back to the Lord,
   and do not postpone it from day to day;
for suddenly the wrath of the Lord will come upon you,
   and at the time of punishment you will perish. 

Words: Bernard of Clairvaux, twelfth century; trans. Edward Caswall, 1849
Tune: Metzler's Redhead, St. Botolph, Bawley, Windsor (Rhythmic), St. Agnes,

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Jesus, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills the breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see,
and in thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
nor can the memory find,
a sweeter sound than Jesus' Name,
the Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
to those who fall, how kind thou art:
how good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
nor tongue nor pen can show;
the love of Jesus, what it is,
none but who love him know.

Jesus, our only joy be thou,
as thou our prize wilt be;
in thee be all our glory now,
and through eternity.

SECOND READING [Matthew 2:13-end]:

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
'Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell
you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.' Then Joseph got up,
took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until
the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the
prophet, 'Out of Egypt I have called my son.'

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he
sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or
under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was
fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
'A voice was heard in Ramah,
   wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
   she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.'

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in
Egypt and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for
those who were seeking the child's life are dead.' Then Joseph got up, took the child
and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was
ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after
being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his
home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled, 'He will be called a Nazorean.' 

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

Let us pray to God the almighty, the King of creation.

Eternal God, we thank you for your light and your truth.
We praise you for your fatherly care
in creating a universe which proclaims your glory.
Inspire us to worship you, the creator of all,
and let your light shine upon our world.
God of life: hear our prayer.

We thank you for the vastness of the universe
and the mysteries of space.
We pray for all scientists and astronomers
who extend the boundaries of our knowledge.
As we contemplate the wonder of the heavens,
confirm us in the truth that every human being is
known and loved by you.
God of life: hear our prayer.

We thank you for the beauty of the earth,
for the diversity of land and sea,
for the resources of the earth.
Give us the will to cherish this planet
and to use its riches for the good and welfare of all.
God of life: hear our prayer.

We thank you for the warmth of the sun,
the light of the moon, the glory of the stars.
We praise you for the formations of clouds,
the radiance of dawn and sunset.
Save us from wasting or abusing the energy
on which all life depends.
Open our eyes to behold your beauty,
and our lips to praise your name.
God of life: hear our prayer.

We thank you for the teeming life of the seas,
and the flight of the birds.
Help us to protect the environment
so that all life may flourish.
God of life: hear our prayer.

We rejoice in the variety of animal life.
Grant us grace to treat all animals with respect and care;
to protect endangered species,
to preserve the variety of habitats,
and to honour the delicate balance of nature.
God of life: hear our prayer.

We pray for the human family.
We exult in its diversity and giftedness,
we repent of its sins, divisions and violence.
By the power of your Spirit, restore your image within us,
through Christ who came to remake us
by his death and resurrection.
God of life: hear our prayer.

Let your goodness, Lord, appear to us,
that we, made in your image,
may conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength we cannot imitate 
your majesty, power and wonder;
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But your mercy reaches from the heavens,
through the clouds, to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love.
Caress us with your tiny hands,
embrace us with your tiny arms,
and piece our hearts with your soft, sweet cries. Amen.

Merciful Redeemer, 
who, by the life and preaching of your servant Bernard, 
rekindled the radiant light of your Church: 
grant us, in our generation, 
to be inflamed with the same spirit of discipline and love, 
and ever walk before you as children of light; 
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

Grant us so fully to manifest Christ in our lives
that people of all races and creeds 
may be drawn to him who is their whole salvation, 
our Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The
Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

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 is by Stephen Benner. The closing prayer is a sentence from
_Uniting in Worship_, The Uniting Church in Australia.

The first collect is by Bernard of Clairvaux.

The intercession is from _Common Worship: Times and Seasons_, material
from which is included in this service is copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council,

Bernard, third son of a Burgundian nobleman, was born in 1090. His brothers
were trained as soldiers, but Bernard from youth was destined for scholarship.
One Christmas Eve as a child he had a dream about the infant Christ in the
manger; and the memory of it, and consequent devotion to the mystery of the
Word made flesh, remained with him throughout his life.
Bernard had good prospects of success as a secular scholar, but he began to
believe that he was called to the monastic life, and after a period of prayer for
guidance, he decided at age 22 to enter the monastery of Citeaux, an offshoot
of the Benedictines which had adopted a much stricter rule than theirs, and
became the founding house of the Cistercian order. He persuaded four of his
brothers, one uncle, and 26 other men to join him. They were the first novices
that Citeaux had had for several years. After three years, the abbot ordered
Bernard to take twelve monks and found a new house at La Ferte. The first
year was one of great hardship. They had no stores and lived chiefly on roots
and barley bread. Bernard imposed such severe discipline that his monks
became discouraged, but he realized his error and became more lenient. The
reputation of the monastery, known as Clairvaux, spread across Europe. Many
new monks joined it, and many persons wrote letters or came in person to seek
spiritual advice. By the time of his death, 60 new monasteries of the Cistercian
order were established under his direction.
For four years after 1130 Bernard was deeply involved with a disputed papal
election, championing the claims of Innocent II against his rival Anacletus II.
He travelled throughout France, Germany, and Italy mustering support for his
candidate (and, it should be added, preaching sermons denouncing injustices
done to Jews), and returned from one of these journeys with Peter Bernard of
Paganelli as a postulant for the monastery. The future Pope Eugenius III spent
the next year stoking the monastery fires. Years later, Bernard wrote a major
treatise of advice to Eugenius on the spiritual temptations of spiritual power.

The papal election was not the only dispute in which Bernard became involved.
He was highly critical of Peter Abelard, one of the most brilliant theologians of
the day. Bernard believed that Abelard was too rationalistic in his approach,
and failed to allow sufficiently for the element of mystery in the faith. When
Abelard rejected some of the ways of stating Christian doctrines to which
Bernard was accustomed, Bernard concluded, perhaps too hastily, that this was
equivalent to rejecting the doctrine itself. A conference was scheduled at Sens,
where Abelard's views were to be examined, but soon after it began Abelard
decided that he was not about to get a fair hearing, announced that he was
appealing to Rome, and left. He set out for Rome and got as far as Cluny,
where he stopped. Peter the Venerable, the abbot, was a friend of both Abelard
and Bernard, and managed to reconcile them before they died.
One of Bernard's most influential acts, for better or worse, was his preaching
of the Second Crusade. The First Crusade had given the Christian forces
control of a few areas in Palestine, including the city of Edessa. When Moslem
forces captured Edessa (now called Urfa and located in eastern Turkey) in
1144, King Louis VII of France (not to be confused with St. Louis IX, also a
Crusader, but more than a century later) was eager to launch a crusade to
retake Edessa and prevent a Moslem recapture of Jerusalem. He asked Bernard
for help, and Bernard refused. He then asked the Pope to order Bernard to
preach a Crusade. The pope gave the order, and Bernard preached, with
spectacular results. Whole villages were emptied of able-bodied males as
Bernard preached and his listeners vowed on the spot to head for Palestine and
defend the Sacred Shrines with their lives.
As for the Crusade, things went wrong from the start. The various rulers
leading the movement were distrustful of one another and not disposed to
work together. Of the soldiers who set out (contemporary estimates vary from
100,000 to 1,500,000), most died of disease and starvation before reaching
their goal, and most of the remainder were killed or captured soon after their
arrival. The impact on Bernard was devastating, and so was the impact on
In 1153, Bernard journeyed to reconcile the warring provinces Metz and
Lorraine. He persuaded them to peace and to an agreement drawn up under his
mediation, and then, in failing health, returned home to die.
If Bernard in controversy was fierce and not always fair, it partly because he
was a man of intense feeling and dedication, quick to respond to any real or
supposed threat to what he held sacred. It is his devotional writings, not his
polemical ones, that are still read today. Among the hymns attributed to him
are the Latin originals of "O Sacred Head, sore wounded," "Jesus, the very
thought of Thee," "O Jesus, joy of loving hearts," "Wide open are Thy hands
(to pay with more than gold the awful debt of guilt and sin, forever and of
old--see the Lutheran Book of Worship et alibi)," and "O Jesus, King most
wonderful." His sermons on the Song of Songs, treated as an allegory of the
love of Christ, are his best-known long work. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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