OREMUS: 23 February 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Fri Feb 22 21:53:24 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Saturday, February 23, 2008
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155

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 gave 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 119:105-128

Your word is a lantern to my feet*
 and a light upon my path.
I have sworn and am determined*
 to keep your righteous judgements.
I am deeply troubled;*
 preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.
Accept, O Lord, the willing tribute of my lips,*
 and teach me your judgements.
My life is always in my hand,*
 yet I do not forget your law.
The wicked have set a trap for me,*
 but I have not strayed from your commandments.
Your decrees are my inheritance for ever;*
 truly, they are the joy of my heart.
I have applied my heart to fulfil your statutes*
 for ever and to the end.
I hate those who have a divided heart,*
 but your law do I love.
You are my refuge and shield;*
 my hope is in your word.
Away from me, you wicked!*
 I will keep the commandments of my God.
Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live,*
 and let me not be disappointed in my hope.
Hold me up and I shall be safe,*
 and my delight shall be ever in your statutes.
You spurn all who stray from your statutes;*
 their deceitfulness is in vain.

In your sight all the wicked of the earth are but dross;*
 therefore I love your decrees.
My flesh trembles with dread of you;*
 I am afraid of your judgements.
I have done what is just and right;*
 do not deliver me to my oppressors.
Be surety for your servant's good;*
 let not the proud oppress me.
My eyes have failed from watching for your salvation*
 and for your righteous promise.
Deal with your servant
   according to your loving-kindness*
 and teach me your statutes.
I am your servant; grant me understanding,*
 that I may know your decrees.
It is time for you to act, O Lord,*
 for they have broken your law.
Truly, I love your commandments*
 more than gold and precious stones.
I hold all your commandments to be right for me;*
 all paths of falsehood I abhor.

A Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2.1,2,3b-5,7,8)

My heart exults in the Lord;  
my strength is exalted in my God. 
My mouth derides my enemies,  
because I rejoice in your salvation. 
There is no Holy One like you, O Lord,  
nor any Rock like you, our God. 
For you are a God of knowledge  
and by you our actions are weighed. 
The bows of the mighty are broken,  
but the feeble gird on strength. 
Those who were full now hire themselves out for bread,  
but those who were hungry are well fed. 
The barren woman has borne sevenfold,  
but she who has many children is forlorn. 
Both the poor and the rich are of your making;  
you bring low and you also exalt. 
You raise up the poor from the dust,  
and lift the needy from the ash heap. 
You make them sit with the rulers  
and inherit a place of honour. 
For the pillars of the earth are yours  
and on them you have set the world.

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 [Micah 7.14 15, 18 20]:

Shepherd your people with your staff,
   the flock that belongs to you,
which lives alone in a forest
   in the midst of a garden land;
let them feed in Bashan and Gilead
   as in the days of old.
As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
   show us marvellous things.

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
   and passing over the transgression
   of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger for ever,
   because he delights in showing clemency.
He will again have compassion upon us;
   he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins
   into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
   and unswerving loyalty to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our ancestors
   from the days of old. 

Words: John Morison, 1781
Tune: St. Bernard

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Come, let us to the Lord our God
with contrite hearts return;
our God is gracious, nor will leave
the desolate to mourn.

His voice commands the tempest forth
and stills the stormy wave;
and though his arm be strong to smite,
'tis also strong to save.

Long hath the night of sorrow reigned,
the dawn shall bring us light;
God shall appear, and we shall rise
with gladness in his sight.

Our hearts, if God we seek to know,
shall know him, and rejoice;
his coming like the morn shall be,
like morning songs his voice.

As dew upon the tender herb
diffusing fragrance round,
as showers that usher in the spring,
and cheer the thirsty ground.

So shall his presence bless our souls,
and shed a joyful light;
that hallowed morn shall chase away
the sorrows of the night.

SECOND READING [Luke 15.1 3, 11 end]:

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the
Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, 'This fellow welcomes sinners
and eats with them.
So he told them this parable: 'There was a man who had two sons. The younger of
them said to his father, "Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to
me." So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son
gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his
property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place
throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out
to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He
would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one
gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, "How many of my father's
hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get
up and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and
before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your
hired hands.' " So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his
father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him
and kissed him. Then the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and
before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son." But the father said to his
slaves, "Quickly, bring out a robe the best one and put it on him; put a ring on his
finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and
celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!"
And they began to celebrate.
'Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he
heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on.
He replied, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because
he has got him back safe and sound." Then he became angry and refused to go in. His
father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, "Listen! For
all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed
your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might
celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured
your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!" Then the father said
to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to
celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he
was lost and has been found." ' 

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

O Lord, answer us in the day of trouble,
Send us help from your holy place.

Show us the path of life,
For in your presence is joy.

Give justice to the orphan and oppressed
And break the power of wickedness and evil.

Look upon the hungry and sorrowful
And grant them the help for which they long.

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad;
May your glory endure for ever.

Your kingship has dominion over all
And with you is our redemption.

Grant, most merciful Lord, 
to your faithful people pardon and peace, 
that they may be cleansed from all their sins, 
and serve you with a quiet mind; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, 
who have to your servant Polycarp 
boldness to confess the name of our Savior Jesus Christ 
before the rulers of this world 
and courage to die for this faith: 
grant that we also may be ready to give 
an answer for the faith that is in us 
and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who lives and reigns with you and 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.

 Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna (today known as Izmir), a city on the west
coast of Turkey. The letters to the "seven churches in Asia" at the beginning of
the book of Revelation include a letter to the church in Smyrna, identifying it
as a church undergoing persecution.
Polycarp is said to have known the Apostle John, and to have been instructed
by him in the Christian faith. Polycarp, in his turn, was known to Irenaeus, who
later became Bishop of Lyons in what is now France. We have (1) Irenaeus's
brief memoir of Polycarp; (2) a letter to Polycarp from Ignatius of Antioch,
written around 115 AD when Ignatius was passing through Turkey, being sent
in chains to Rome to be put to death; (3) a letter from Polycarp to the church
at Philippi, written at the same time; and (4) an account of the arrest, trial,
conviction, and martyrdom of Polycarp, written after his death by one or more
members of his congregation.
Polycarp was denounced to the government, arrested, and tried on the charge
of being a Christian. When the proconsul urged him to save his life by cursing
Christ, he replied: "Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any
wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" The magistrate was
reluctant to kill a a gentle old man, but he had no choice.
Polycarp was sentenced to be burned. As he waited for the fire to be lighted,
he prayed:
Lord God Almighty, Father of your blessed and beloved child Jesus Christ,
through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and hosts
and all creation, and of the whole race of the upright who live in your
I bless you that you have thought me worthy of this day and hour, to be
numbered among the martyrs and share in the cup of Christ, for resurrection to
eternal life, for soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. Among
them may I be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice,
just as you, the faithful and true God, have prepared and foreshown and
brought about. For this reason and for all things I praise you, I bless you, I
glorify you, through the eternal heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved
child, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, now and
for the ages to come. Amen.
The fire was then lit and shortly thereafter a soldier stabbed Polycarp to death
by order of the magistrate. His friends gave his remains honorable burial, and
wrote an account of his death to other churches. See the Penguin volume,
Ancient Christian Writers. [James Kiefer]

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