OREMUS: 28 December 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Sat Dec 27 17:00:00 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Sunday, December 28, 2008
The Martyred Children of Bethlehem
(The Holy Innocents)

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

Blessed are you, loving and merciful God,
in love for our fallen human race,
you sent your Son 
into the world to lighten our darkness.
In his life, he rejoiced in the innocence of children;
in his death, he carried in his body 
the violence and cruelty of our world;
in his resurrection, he brought life and salvation to his people.
On his throne of mercy,
he hears our cries and knows our grief;
and all must give account to him.
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 8

O Lord our governor,*
 how exalted is your name in all the world!
Out of the mouths of infants and children*
 your majesty is praised above the heavens.
You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries,*
 to quell the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,*
 the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
What are mortals, that you should be mindful of them?*
 mere human beings, that you should seek them out?
You have made them little lower than the angels;*
 you adorn them with glory and honour.
You give them mastery over the works of your hands;*
 and put all things under their feet,
All sheep and oxen,*
 even the wild beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,*
 and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.
O Lord our governor,*
 how exalted is your name in all the world!

Psalm 26

Give judgement for me, O Lord,
   for I have lived with integrity;*
 I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
Test me, O Lord, and try me;*
 examine my heart and my mind.
For your love is before my eyes;*
 I have walked faithfully with you.
I have not sat with the worthless,*
 nor do I consort with the deceitful.
I have hated the company of evildoers;*
 I will not sit down with the wicked.
I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord,*
 that I may go in procession round your altar,
Singing aloud a song of thanksgiving*
 and recounting all your wonderful deeds.
Lord, I love the house in which you dwell*
 and the place where your glory abides.
Do not sweep me away with sinners,*
 nor my life with those who thirst for blood,
Whose hands are full of evil plots,*
 and their right hand full of bribes.
As for me, I will live with integrity;*
 redeem me, O Lord, and have pity on me.
My foot stands on level ground;*
 in the full assembly I will bless the Lord.

A Song of St. Anselm

Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you;
you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.

Often you weep over our sins and our pride,
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.

You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds,
in sickness you nurse us and with pure milk you feed us.

Jesus, by your dying, we are born to new life;
by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.

Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness;
through your gentleness, we find comfort in fear.

Your warmth gives life to the dead,
your touch makes sinners righteous.

Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us;
in your love and tenderness remake us.

In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness,
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.

Psalm 117

Praise the Lord, all you nations;*
 laud him, all you peoples.
For his loving-kindness towards us is great,*
 and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever.

FIRST READING [Jeremiah 31:1-6, 15-16]:

At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall
be my people.
Thus says the Lord:
The people who survived the sword
   found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
   the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
   therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
   O virgin Israel!
Again you shall take your tambourines,
   and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
   on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant,
   and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when sentinels will call
   in the hill country of Ephraim:
'Come, let us go up to Zion,
   to the Lord our God.'

Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
   lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
   she refuses to be comforted for her children,
   because they are no more.
Thus says the Lord:
Keep your voice from weeping,
   and your eyes from tears;
for there is a reward for your work,
says the Lord:
   they shall come back from the land of the enemy. 

Words: (c) Marnie Barrell, 1996
Tune: Bethany

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Who are these who ride by starlight
from the corners of the earth,
leaving home, forsaking comfort,
drawn to one mysterious birth?
These are wise men seeking wisdom,
disciplined to watch and pray;
we will read the signs and follow,
see where Christ is born today.

Who is this who hears the wise men,
trembling while their tale is told,
sending troops to slaughter blindly,
crush what cannot be controlled?
This is Herod, every Herod
building power by others' pain;
we will mourn the murdered children
while their blood is shed again.

Who is this, a homeless exile,
destined from his earliest hour
for rejection, conflict, danger,
marked for death by worldly power?
Jesus, born to show God's glory
shining through despair and loss,
we will know you when we meet you
by the shadow of your cross.
SECOND READING [Matthew 2:13-18]:

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 fulfill 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.'

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

God of mercy,
every family in heaven and on earth
takes its name from you.
We pray for parents,
that they may give their children faith in you
and find help and support in your community.

We pray for children,
that with faith in you
they may grow up confident, full of hope,
merciful, gentle and creative
in all their dealings with others.

We pray, too, for those
who have seen their children destroyed by violence or hunger:
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all children orphaned by war.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for families who are homeless or separated,
or who live in unhealthy, brutalizing conditions:
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for grace to show mercy and justice
that hope may be restored.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray that our society
will strengthen and support family life,
so that children may grow up whole
for the good of the community.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray that we may do justice
to holiness and your love,
which are stronger and surer than all our evil.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father,
whose children suffered at the hands of Herod,
though they had done no wrong:
give us grace neither to act cruelly
nor to stand indifferently by,
but to defend the weak from the tyranny of the strong;
in the name of Jesus Christ who suffered for us,
but who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Rejoicing in the presence of God here among us,
let us pray in faith and trust:

- The Lord's Prayer

May God, who gives comfort to the desolate,
sustain us and keep us, now and always. 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
material copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The hymn is reproduced with the kind permission of the author. If you wish to
reproduce it further, please send her an email. Address found at the link above.

The intercession is from _Chalice Worship_, (c) Chalice Press,
1997. Reproduced with permission.

The collect is from The Alternative Service Book 1980_, (c)
The Central Board of Finance of the Church of England 1980.

We read in Matthew 2 that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, King Herod,
fearing for his throne, ordered that all the male infants of Bethlehem be killed.
These children are regarded as martyrs for the Gospel -- "martyrs in fact
though not in will." Augustine called them "buds, killed by the frost of
persecution the moment they showed themselves." [James Kiefer]

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