OREMUS: 3 December 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Dec 2 17:00:00 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Wednesday, December 3, 2008
John of Damascus, Monk, Teacher of the Faith, c.749

Lord, open our lips,
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, loving God,
ever faithful to your promises
and ever close to your church.
The earth rejoices in hope of the Savior's coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
You call us to prepare our hearts
and remove that which hinders us
from the joy and hope his presence will bestow.
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 9

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;*
 I will tell of all your marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;*
 I will sing to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies are driven back,*
 they will stumble and perish at your presence.
For you have maintained my right and my cause;*
 you sit upon your throne judging right.
You have rebuked the ungodly and destroyed the wicked;*
 you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
As for the enemy, they are finished, in perpetual ruin,*
 their cities ploughed under,
   the memory of them perished;
But the Lord is enthroned for ever;*
 he has set up his throne for judgement.
It is he who rules the world with righteousness;*
 he judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord will be a refuge for the oppressed,*
 a refuge in time of trouble.
Those who know your name will put their trust in you,*
 for you never forsake those who seek you, O Lord.
Sing praise to the Lord who dwells in Zion;*
 proclaim to the peoples the things he has done.
The avenger of blood will remember them;*
 he will not forget the cry of the afflicted.
Have pity on me, O Lord;*
 see the misery I suffer from those who hate me,
   O you who lift me up from the gate of death;
So that I may tell of all your praises
   and rejoice in your salvation*
 in the gates of the city of Zion.
The ungodly have fallen into the pit they dug,*
 and in the snare they set is their own foot caught.
The Lord is known by his acts of justice;*
 the wicked are trapped in the works of their own hands.
The wicked shall be given over to the grave,*
 and also all the peoples that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten,*
 and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Rise up, O Lord,
   let not the ungodly have the upper hand;*
 let them be judged before you.
Put fear upon them, O Lord;*
 let the ungodly know they are but mortal.

A Song of the Lamb (Revelation 19.1b,2a,5b,6b,7,9b)

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. 
For 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.

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 [Isaiah 2:6-19]:

For you have forsaken the ways of your people,
   O house of Jacob.
Indeed they are full of diviners from the east
   and of soothsayers like the Philistines,
   and they clasp hands with foreigners.
Their land is filled with silver and gold,
   and there is no end to their treasures;
their land is filled with horses,
   and there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is filled with idols;
   they bow down to the work of their hands,
   to what their own fingers have made.
And so people are humbled,
   and everyone is brought low 
   do not forgive them!
Enter into the rock,
   and hide in the dust
from the terror of the Lord,
   and from the glory of his majesty.
The haughty eyes of people shall be brought low,
   and the pride of everyone shall be humbled;
and the Lord alone will be exalted
   on that day.
For the Lord of hosts has a day
   against all that is proud and lofty,
   against all that is lifted up and high;
against all the cedars of Lebanon,
   lofty and lifted up;
   and against all the oaks of Bashan;
against all the high mountains,
   and against all the lofty hills;
against every high tower,
   and against every fortified wall;
against all the ships of Tarshish,
   and against all the beautiful craft.
The haughtiness of people shall be humbled,
   and the pride of everyone shall be brought low;
   and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.
The idols shall utterly pass away.
Enter the caves of the rocks
   and the holes of the ground,
from the terror of the Lord,
   and from the glory of his majesty,
   when he rises to terrify the earth. 

Words:  John of Damascus, eighth century;
trans. John Mason Neale, 1862 
Tune: St. Alban's

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Those eternal bowers, man hath never trod,
those unfading flowers round the throne of God:
who may hope to gain them after weary fight?
who at length attain them, clad in robes of white?

He who wakes from slumber at the Spirit's voice,
daring here to number things unseen his choice:
he who casts his burden down at Jesus' cross--
Christ' reproach his guerdon, all beside but loss.

He who gladly barters all on earthly ground;
he who, like the martyrs, says "I will be crowned;"
he whose one oblation is a life of love,
knit in God's salvation to the blest above.

Shame upon you, legions of the heavenly King,
citizens of regions past imagining!
Why with pipe and tabor waste the hours of light,
when he bids you labor, when he tells you, "Fight"?

Jesus, Lord of glory, as we breast the tide,
whisper thou the story of the other side;
where the saints are casting crowns before thy feet,
safe for everlasting, in thyself complete. 

SECOND READING [Mark 1:29-39]:

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with
James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told
Jesus about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the
fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with
demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who
were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit
the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place,
and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found
him, they said to him, 'Everyone is searching for you.' He answered, 'Let us go on to
the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what
I came out to do.' And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their
synagogues and casting out demons. 

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

>From the rising of the sun to its setting, 
let us pray to the Lord.

That the people of God in all the world
may worship in spirit and in truth,
let us pray to the Lord: 
Lord, have mercy.

That the Church may discover again that unity which is your gift,
let us pray to the Lord: 
Lord, have mercy.

That the nations of the earth
may seek after the ways that make for peace,
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord, have mercy.

That the whole creation, groaning in travail,
may be set free to enjoy the glorious liberty
of the children of God,
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord, have mercy.

That all who with Christ have entered the shadow of death
may find the fulfilment of life and peace,
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord, have mercy.

With all the saints in light,
let us offer eternal praise to the Lord made manifest:

God of the future,
help us to live with our eyes open,
and remember your faithfulness;
may we entrust our lives
into the hands of Jesus,
whose coming is certain, 
whose day draws near,
and in whose name we pray. Amen.

Confirm our minds, O Lord, 
in the mysteries of the true faith, 
set forth with power by your servant John of Damascus; 
that we, with him, confessing Jesus 
to be truly God and truly Human, 
and singing the praises of the risen Lord, 
may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Awaiting his coming in glory,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

O Son of God, our Savior,
today we await your coming,
and tomorrow we shall see your glory.
Reveal the good news to all of us
who long for your arrival.
Come, Love incarnate, do not delay.
Come, Lord Jesus! 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 of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are adapted from
_Chalice Worship_, (c) Chalice Press, 1997. Reproduced with
permission. The first collect is from _Uniting in Worship 2</cite, (c) 2005
Uniting Church in Australia. The second collect is from _The Proper for the Lesser
Feasts and Fasts_, 3rd edition, (c) 1980 The Church Pension Fund.

John is generally accounted "the last of the Fathers". He was the son of a
Christian official at the court of the moslem khalif Abdul Malek, and succeeded
to his father's office. In his time there was a dispute among Christians between
the Iconoclasts (image-breakers) and the Iconodules (image-venerators or
image-respectors). The Emperor, Leo III, was a vigorous upholder of the
Iconoclast position. John wrote in favor of the Iconodules with great
effectiveness. Ironically, he was able to do this chiefly because he had the
protection of the moslem khalif (ironic because the moslems have a strong
prohibition against the religious use of pictures or images). John is also known
as a hymn-writer. Two of his hymns are sung in English at Easter ("Come ye
faithful, raise the strain" and "The Day of Resurrection! Earth, tell it out
abroad!"). Many more are sung in the Eastern Church. His major writing is
THE FOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE, of which the third part, THE ORTHODOX
FAITH, is a summary of Christian doctrine as expounded by the Greek
The dispute about icons was not a dispute between East and West as such.
Both the Greek and the Latin churches accepted the final decision. The
Iconoclasts maintained that the use of religious images was a violation of the
Second Commandment ("Thou shalt not make a graven image... thou shalt not
bow down to them"). The Iconodules replied that the coming of Christ had
radically changed the situation, and that the commandment must now be
understood in a new way, just as the commandment to "Remember the Sabbath
Day" must be understood in a new way since the Resurrection of Jesus on the
first day of the week. Before the Incarnation, it had indeed been improper to
portray the invisible God in visible form; but God, by taking fleshly form in the
person of Jesus Christ, had blessed the whole realm of matter and made it a fit
instrument for manifesting the Divine Splendor. He had reclaimed everything in
heaven and earth for His service, and had made water and oil, bread and wine,
means of conveying His grace to men. He had made painting and sculpture and
music and the spoken word, and indeed all our daily tasks and pleasures, the
common round of everyday life, a means whereby man might glorify God and
be made aware of Him. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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