OREMUS: 31 July 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Jul 30 17:00:01 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Thursday, July 31, 2008
Joseph of Arimathea

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

Blessed are you, O God,
you are our greatest treasure
and the source of our greatest joy:
Your Spirit continues to form us in the likeness of Christ,
that we may know the freedom of your children
and the assurance that nothing in creation
can separate us from your love,
most fully known in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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 50

The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken;*
 he has called the earth
   from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty,*
 God reveals himself in glory.
Our God will come and will not keep silence;*
 before him there is a consuming flame,
   and round about him a raging storm.
He calls the heavens and the earth from above*
 to witness the judgement of his people.
'Gather before me my loyal followers,*
 those who have made a covenant with me
   and sealed it with sacrifice.'
Let the heavens declare the rightness of his cause;*
 for God himself is judge.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak:
   'O Israel, I will bear witness against you;*
 for I am God, your God.
'I do not accuse you because of your sacrifices;*
 your offerings are always before me.
'I will take no bull-calf from your stalls,*
 nor he-goats out of your pens;
'For the beasts of the forest are mine,*
 the herds in their thousands upon the hills.
'I know every bird in the sky,*
 and the creatures of the fields are in my sight.
'If I were hungry, I would not tell you,*
 for the whole world is mine and all that is in it.
'Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls,*
 or drink the blood of goats?
'Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving*
 and make good your vows to the Most High.
'Call upon me in the day of trouble;*
 I will deliver you and you shall honour me.'
But to the wicked God says:*
 'Why do you recite my statutes,
   and take my covenant upon your lips;
'Since you refuse discipline,*
 and toss my words behind your back?
'When you see a thief, you make him your friend,*
 and you cast in your lot with adulterers.
'You have loosed your lips for evil,*
 and harnessed your tongue to a lie.
'You are always speaking evil of your brother*
 and slandering your own mother's son.
'These things you have done and I kept still,*
 and you thought that I am like you.
'I have made my accusation;*
 I have put my case in order before your eyes.
'Consider this well, you who forget God,*
 lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you.
'Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving
   honours me;*
 but to those who keep in my way
   will I show the salvation of God.'

A Song of Tobit (Tobit 13.1,3,4-6a)

Blessed be God, who lives for ever,  
whose reign endures throughout all ages. 
Declare God's praise before the nations,  
you who are the children of Israel. 
For if our God has scattered you among them,  
there too has he shown you his greatness. 
Exalt him in the sight of the living,  
because he is our Lord and God and our Father for ever. 
Though God punishes you for your wickedness,  
mercy will be shown to you all. 
God will gather you from every nation,  
from wherever you have been scattered. 
When you turn to the Lord 
with all your heart and soul,  
God will hide his face from you no more. 
See what the Lord has done for you  
and give thanks with a loud voice. 
Praise the Lord of righteousness  
and exalt the King of the ages. 

Psalm 148

   Praise the Lord from the heavens;*
 praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels of his;*
 praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;*
 praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens,*
 and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;*
 for he commanded and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever;*
 he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,*
 you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog,*
 tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills,*
 fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle,*
 creeping things and winged birds;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,*
 princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens,*
 old and young together.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,*
 for his name only is exalted,
   his splendour is over earth and heaven.
He has raised up strength for his people
   and praise for all his loyal servants,*
 the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

FIRST READING [Micah 6:9-end]:

The voice of the Lord cries to the city
   (it is sound wisdom to fear your name):
Hear, O tribe and assembly of the city!
   Can I forget the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked,
   and the scant measure that is accursed?
Can I tolerate wicked scales
   and a bag of dishonest weights?
Your wealthy are full of violence;
   your inhabitants speak lies,
   with tongues of deceit in their mouths.
Therefore I have begun to strike you down,
   making you desolate because of your sins.
You shall eat, but not be satisfied,
   and there shall be a gnawing hunger within you;
you shall put away, but not save,
   and what you save, I will hand over to the sword.
You shall sow, but not reap;
   you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil;
   you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.
For you have kept the statutes of Omri
   and all the works of the house of Ahab,
   and you have followed their counsels.
Therefore I will make you a desolation, and your inhabitants an object of hissing;
   so you shall bear the scorn of my people. 

Words: Erik Routley (c) Used with permission.
Tune: Birabus

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All who love and serve your city,
all who bear its daily stress,
all who cry for peace and justice,
all who curse and all who bless,

In your day of loss and sorrow,
in your day of helpless strife,
honor, peace, and love retreating,
seek the Lord, who is your life.

In your day of wrath and plenty,
wasted work and wasted play,
call to mind the word of Jesus,
"I must work while it is day."

For all days are days of judgment,
and the Lord is waiting still,
drawing near a world that spurns him,
offering peace from Calvary's hill.

Risen Lord! shall yet the city
be the city of despair?
Come today, our Judge, our Glory;
be its name, "The Lord is there!" 

SECOND READING [Romans 7:1-13]:

Do you not know, brothers and sisters for I am speaking to those who know the
law that the law is binding on a person only during that person's lifetime? Thus a
married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her
husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she
will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive.
But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she
is not an adulteress.

In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so
that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order
that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions,
aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we
are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves
not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.
What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for
the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the
law had not said, 'You shall not covet.' But sin, seizing an opportunity in the
commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies
dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin
revived and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death
to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through
it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.
Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in
me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the
commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 

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

Almighty and gracious God,
we bless you for your mercy in Christ
and your nearness by the Word and the Spirit.

Hear us as we embrace in the circle of love:

the life and witness of your Church,
Generous God, hear us.

the world and its longing,
especially for peace in India and Pakistan, the Sudan,
Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine and wherever conflict persists.
Generous God, hear us.

the cares of our own lives,
Generous God, hear us.

and those particular concerns your Spirit awakens in us,
Generous God, hear us.

O God, you desire mercy and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of you rather than burnt offerings:
rule and direct our hearts in the way of true religion
and save us in the day of your appearing;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Merciful God, 
whose servant Joseph of Arimathea 
with reverence and godly fear 
prepared the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, 
and laid it in his own tomb: 
Grant to us, your faithful people, 
grace and courage to love and serve Jesus 
with sincere devotion all the days of our life; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and 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

May we instructed by your heavenly law, O Lord,
that we may embrace the example of your Son
and show it forth in deeds and works of love. 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 prayers by Alan Griffiths..

The second collect is from _The Proper for the Lesser Feasts and
Fasts_, 3rd edition, (c) 1980 The Church Pension Fund.

The Gospels tell us that after the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathaea,
wealthy, a member of the Council, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and
buried it with honor in the tomb he had intended for himself. This is our only
information about him from writers of his own century.
Later tradition has embellished this account. It is said that Joseph was a distant
relative of the family of Jesus; that he derived his wealth from tin mines in
Cornwall, which he visited from time to time; and that Jesus as a teenager
accompanied Joseph on one such visit. This is the background of the poem
"Jerusalem," by William Blake.
After the Crucifixion, we are told, Joseph returned to Cornwall, bringing the
chalice of the Last Supper, known as the Holy Grail. Reaching Glastonbury, he
planted his staff, which took root and blossomed into a thorn tree. The Grail
was hidden, and part of the great national epic ("the matter of Britain") deals
with the unsuccessful quest of the knights of King Arthur to find the Grail. The
Thorn Tree remained at Glastonbury, flowering every year on Christmas day,
and King Charles I baited the Roman Catholic chaplain of his queen by
pointing out that, although Pope Gregory had proclaimed a reform of the
calendar, the Glastonbury Thorn ignored the Pope's decree and continued to
blossom on Christmas Day according to the Old Calendar. The Thorn was cut
down by one of Cromwell's soldiers on the grounds that it was a relic of
superstition, and it is said that as it fell, its thorns blinded the axeman in one
eye. A tree allegedly grown from a cutting from the original Thorn survives
today in Glastonbury (and trees propagated from it stand on the grounds of the
Cathedral in Washington, DC, and presumably elsewhere) and leaves from it
are sold in all the tourist shops in Glastonbury.
Has the Glastonbury legend any basis at all in history? Two facts and some
speculations follow:
Tin, an essential ingredient of bronze, was highly valued in ancient times, and
Phoenician ships imported tin from Cornwall. It is a pretty safe guess that in
the first century the investors who owned shares in the Cornwall tin trade
included at least a few Jewish Christians.
Christianity gained a foothold in Britain very early, probably earlier than in
Gaul. It may have been brought there by the traffic of the Cornwall tin trade. If
so, then the early British Christians would have a tradition that they had been
evangelized by a wealthy Jewish Christian. If they had forgotten his name, it
would be natural to consult the Scriptures to see what mention was made of
early wealthy Jewish converts. Joseph and Barnabas are almost the only ones
named, and much of the life of Barnabas is already accounted for by the book
of Acts, which makes him an unsatisfactory candidate. Hence, those who do
not like to be vague would say, not, "We were evangelized by some wealthy
Jewish Christian whose name we have forgotten," but, "We were evangelized
by Joseph of Arimathaea."
Why spend time on any of the above? Because the folk-tales of a community
are part of the heritage of a community. Someone wishing to understand the
United States will be well advised to familiarize himself with the stories of
George Washington's cherry tree and Paul Revere's ride, although he ought not
to confuse them with history. [James Kiefer]

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