OREMUS: 19 July 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Fri Jul 18 17:00:00 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Saturday, July 19, 2008
Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and Macrina, Deaconess,
Teachers of the Faith, c.394 and c. 379

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

Blessed are you, Lord of all creation;
in your love you made us for yourself.
When we turned away you did not reject us,
but came to meet us in your Son.
You embraced us as your children
and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.
In Christ you shared our life
that we might live in him and he in us.
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 92

It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord,*
 and to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning*
 and of your faithfulness in the night season;
On the psaltery and on the lyre*
 and to the melody of the harp.
For you have made me glad by your acts, O Lord;*
 and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.
Lord, how great are your works!*
 your thoughts are very deep.
The dullard does not know,
   nor does the fool understand,*
 that though the wicked grow like weeds,
   and all the workers of iniquity flourish,
They flourish only to be destroyed for ever;*
 but you, O Lord, are exalted for evermore.
For lo, your enemies, O Lord,
   lo, your enemies shall perish,*
 and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
But my horn you have exalted
   like the horns of wild bulls;*
 I am anointed with fresh oil.
My eyes also gloat over my enemies,*
 and my ears rejoice to hear the doom of the wicked
   who rise up against me.
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,*
 and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord*
 shall flourish in the courts of our God;
They shall still bear fruit in old age;*
 they shall be green and succulent;
That they may show how upright the Lord is,*
 my rock, in whom there is no fault.

A Song of the Redeemed (Revelation 7.9,10,14b-17)

Behold, a great multitude
which no one could number, 
>From every nation, 
from all tribes and peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and the Lamb. 
They were clothed in white robes 
and had palms in their hands, 
and they cried with a loud voice, saying, 
'Salvation belongs to our God 
who sits on the throne,  
and to the Lamb.' 
These are they 
who have come out of the great tribulation, 
they have washed their robes 
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; 
Therefore they stand before the throne of God,
whom they serve day and night within the temple. 
And the One who sits upon the throne . 
will shelter them with his presence. 
They shall never again feel hunger or thirst, . 
the sun shall not strike them, 
nor any scorching heat. 
For the Lamb at the heart of the throne 
will be their Shepherd, 
He will guide them to springs of living water, 
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 

Psalm 150

   Praise God in his holy temple;*
 praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts;*
 praise him for his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the blast of the ram's-horn;*
 praise him with lyre and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance;*
 praise him with strings and pipe.
Praise him with resounding cymbals;*
 praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath*
 praise the Lord.

FIRST READING [Esther 4:1, 5-17]:

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on
sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry;
Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, who had been appointed to
attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why.
Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's
gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money
that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasuries for the destruction of the
Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their
destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to
the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.

Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. Then Esther spoke to Hathach
and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, 'All the king's servants and the people
of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the
inner court without being called, there is but one law all alike are to be put to death.
Only if the king holds out the golden sceptre to someone, may that person live. I
myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.' When they told
Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, 'Do not think
that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you
keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from
another quarter, but you and your father's family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps
you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.' Then Esther said in reply
to Mordecai, 'Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my
behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also
fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I
perish, I perish.' Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered

Words: Brian Wren, (c) Hope Publishing, Used with permission.
Tune: St. Petersburg

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Great God, your love has called us here
as we, by love, for love were made.
Your living likeness still we bear,
though marred, dishonored, disobeyed.
We come, with all our heart and mind,
your call to hear, your love to find.

We come with self-inflicted pains
of broken trust and chosen wrong;
half-free, half-bound by inner chains;
by social forces swept along,
by powers and systems close confined;
yet seeking hope for humankind.

Great God, in Christ you call our name
and then receive us as your own
not through some merit, right, or claim,
but by your gracious love alone.
We strain to glimpse your mercy seat
and find you kneeling at our feet.

Then take the towel, and break the bread,
and humble us, and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed,
and show how grandly love intends
to work till all creation sings,
to fill all worlds, to crown all things.

Great God, in Christ you set us free,
your life to live, your joy to share.
Give your Spirit's liberty
to turn from guilt and dull despair
and offer all that faith can do
while love is making all things new. 

SECOND READING [Acts 28:16-end]:

When we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who
was guarding him.

Three days later he called together the local leaders of the Jews. When they had
assembled, he said to them, 'Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people
or the customs of our ancestors, yet I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to
the Romans. When they had examined me, the Romans wanted to release me, because
there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But when the Jews objected, I
was compelled to appeal to the emperor even though I had no charge to bring
against my nation. For this reason therefore I have asked to see you and speak with
you, since it is for the sake of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.' They
replied, 'We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers
coming here has reported or spoken anything evil about you. But we would like to
hear from you what you think, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it
is spoken against.'

After they had fixed a day to meet him, they came to him at his lodgings in great
numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the
kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses
and from the prophets. Some were convinced by what he had said, while others
refused to believe. So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul
made one further statement: 'The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors
through the prophet Isaiah,
"Go to this people and say,
You will indeed listen, but never understand,
   and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
   and their ears are hard of hearing,
     and they have shut their eyes;
     so that they might not look with their eyes,
   and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn 
   and I would heal them."
Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles;
they will listen.'

He lived there for two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to
him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with
all boldness and without hindrance. 

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

God of all time,
we bless you for the gift of this day
and for our hope in Christ Jesus.
In the midst of all that demands our attention,
free us to love you with all our hearts
and to love the world with your mercy and justice.

Let our love be genuine:
Kyrie eleison

Let our affections be tempered with holiness:
Kyrie eleison

Let our desires be shaped by the vision
of a new heaven and a new earth:
Kyrie eleison

Let our actions reflect the balance of love
for your reign in all things:
Kyrie eleison

Let our perceptions and feelings be ordered
by the hope we have in Christ:
Kyrie eleison

Our Father in heaven, 
give us those wings, 
that our mind may wing its way up
to the heights of the noble words your Son taught us:
Then we would leave behind the earth altogether
and traverse all the middle air; 
we would reach the beautiful ether, 
come to the stars and behold all their orderly array. 
But not even there would we stop short,
but, passing beyond them, would become a stranger 
to all that moves and changes, 
and apprehend the stable Nature, the immovable Power 
which exists in its own right, 
guiding and keeping in being all things, f
or all depend on the ineffable will of the Divine Wisdom. Amen.

Lord of eternity, creator of all things,
in your Son Jesus Christ you open for us 
the way to resurrection
that we may enjoy your bountiful goodness:
may we who celebrate your servants Gregory and Macrina
press onwards in faith to your boundless love
and ever wonder at the miracle of your presence among us;
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

You have opened to us the Scriptures, O Christ.
Abide with us, we pray,
that, blessed by your royal presence,
we may walk with you
all the days of our life,
and at its end behold you
in the glory of the eternal Trinity,
one God for ever and ever. 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 and closing sentence are adapted 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.

The intercession is reprinted from _THE DAILY OFFICE: A Book of Hours of
Daily Prayer after the Use of the Order of Saint Luke_, (c) 1997 by The Order
of Saint Luke. Used by permission.

The first collect is adapted from a sermon on the Lord's Prayer by Gregory.

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.

Basil the Great is remembered as the founder of Eastern monasticism. All
Eastern Orthodox monks are Basilian monks and follow a variation of the
monastic rule that he outlined. However, it is often overlooked that the
community of monks organized by Basil was preceded and inspired by a
community of nuns organized by his sister, Macrina.
Macrina the Elder lived in the days of the Emperor Diocletian, who made a
determined effort to destroy the Christian faith. She and her husband fled into
hiding, and survived into the time of Constantine. One of their sons, Basil the
Elder, and his wife Emmelia, had several distinguished sons, including Basil the
Great (14 June), Gregory of Nyssa (9 March), Peter of Sebastea, Naucratios,
and Dios of Antioch.
Their oldest offspring, however, was their daughter Macrina (called Macrina
the Younger to distinguish her from her grandmother). She was betrothed at
the age of twelve, after the custom of the day, but when her fiance died, she
determined to devote her life to prayer and contemplation and to works of
charity. After the death of her father, she and her mother formed a community
of women who shared her goals. She often brought poor and hungry women
home to be fed, clothed, nursed, or otherwise taken care of, and many
eventually joined the community, as did many women of means.
After the death of their parents, Macrina was chiefly responsible for the
upbringing of her ten younger brothers. When they were disposed to be
conceited about their intellectual accomplishments, she deflated them with
affectionate but pointed jibes. Her example encouraged some of them to
pursue the monastic ideal, and to found monastic communities for men. (Dios
founded one of the most celebrated monasteries in Constantinople.) Three of
them (Basil, Gregory, Peter) became bishops, and all of them were leading
contenders for the faith of Nicea against the Arians.
Gregory, in his Life of Macrina, records his last visit with her, and her farewell
speech and her prayers and teachings about the resurrection.
Gregory of Nyssa, his brother Basil the Great (14 June), and Basil's best friend
Gregory of Nazianzus (9 May), are known collectively as the Cappadocian
Fathers. They were a major force in the triumph of the Athanasian position at
the Council of Constantinople in 381. Gregory of Nyssa tends to be
overshadowed by the other two.
Gregory of Nyssa was born in Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia (central
Turkey) in about 334, the younger brother of Basil the Great and of Macrina
(19 July), and of several other distinguished persons. As a youth, he was at
best a lukewarm Christian. However, when he was twenty, some of the relics
of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (10 March) were transferred to a chapel near
his home, and their presence made a deep impression on him, confronting him
with the fact that to acknowledge God at all is to acknowledge His right to
demand a total commitment. Gregory became an active and fervent Christian.
He considered the priesthood, decided it was not for him, became a
professional orator like his father, married, and settled down to the life of a
Christian layman. However, his brother Basil and his friend Gregory of
Nazianzus persuaded him to reconsider, and he became a priest in about 362.
His brother Basil, who had become archbishop of Caesarea in 370, was
engaged in a struggle with the Arian Emperor Valens, who was trying to stamp
out belief in the deity of Christ. Basil desperately needed the votes and support
of Athanasian bishops, and he maneuvered his friend Gregory into the
bishopric of Sasima, and (in about 371) his brother Gregory into the bishopric
of Nyssa, a small town about ten miles from Caesarea. Neither one wanted to
be a bishop, neither was suited to be a bishop, and both were furious with
Basil.) Gregory did not get along well with his flock, was falsely accused of
embezzling church funds, fled the scene in about 376, and did not return until
after the death of Valens about two years later.
In 379, Basil died, having lived to see the death of Valens and the end of the
persecution. Shortly thereafter, Macrina died. Gregory was with her in the last
few days of her life. Afterwards, he took to writing sermons and treatises on
theology and philosophy. His philosophy was a form of Christian Platonism. In
his approach to the Scriptures, he was heavily influenced by Origen, and his
writings on the Trinity and the Incarnation build on and develop insights found
in germ in the writings of his brother Basil. But he is chiefly remembered as a
writer on the spiritual life, on the contemplation of God, not only in private
prayer and meditation, but in corporate worship and in the sacramental life of
the Church.
His treatise On The Making of Man deals with God as Creator, and with the
world as a good thing, as something that God takes delight in, and that ought
to delight us. His Great Catechism is esteemed as a work of systematic
theology. His Commentary on the Song of Songs is a work of contemplative,
devotional, mystical theology. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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