OREMUS: 18 June 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Jun 17 19:49:53 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Bernard Mizeki, Apostle of the MaShona, Martyr, 1896

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

Blessed are you, God and Father of all believers!
You summoned our forebear Abram
to follow you in ways he did not know
and put his faith in things he could not see.
You bless all who honor him as their ancestor
and invite us to come together in understanding
and reverence for your name.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you,
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 132

Lord, remember David*
 and all the hardships he endured;
How he swore an oath to the Lord*
 and vowed a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
'I will not come under the roof of my house,*
 nor climb up into my bed;
'I will not allow my eyes to sleep,*
 nor let my eyelids slumber;
'Until I find a place for the Lord,*
 a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.'
'The Ark! We heard it was in Ephrathah;*
 we found it in the fields of Jearim.
'Let us go to God's dwelling place;*
 let us fall upon our knees before his footstool.'
Arise, O Lord, into your resting-place,*
 you and the ark of your strength.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness;*
 let your faithful people sing with joy.
For your servant David's sake,*
 do not turn away the face of your anointed.
The Lord has sworn an oath to David;*
 in truth, he will not break it:
'A son, the fruit of your body*
 will I set upon your throne.
'If your children keep my covenant
   and my testimonies that I shall teach them,*
 their children will sit upon your throne for evermore.'
For the Lord has chosen Zion,*
 he has desired her for his habitation:
'This shall be my resting-place for ever;*
 here will I dwell, for I delight in her.
'I will surely bless her provisions,*
 and satisfy her poor with bread.
'I will clothe her priests with salvation,*
 and her faithful people will rejoice and sing.
'There will I make the horn of David flourish;*
 I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
'As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame;*
 but as for him, his crown will shine.'

Psalm 134

Behold now, bless the Lord,
   all you servants of the Lord,*
 you that stand by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the holy place
   and bless the Lord;*
 the Lord who made heaven and earth
   bless you out of Zion.

A Song of the New Jerusalem (Isaiah 60.1-3,11a,18,19,14b)

Arise, shine out, for your light has come,  
the glory of the Lord is rising upon you. 
Though night still covers the earth,  
and darkness the peoples; 
Above you the Holy One arises,  
and above you God's glory appears. 
The nations will come to your light,  
and kings to your dawning brightness. 
Your gates will lie open continually,  
shut neither by day nor by night. 
The sound of violence shall be heard no longer in your land,  
or ruin and devastation within your borders. 
You will call your walls, Salvation,  
and your gates, Praise. 
No more will the sun give you daylight,  
nor moonlight shine upon you; 
But the Lord will be your everlasting light,  
your God will be your splendour. 
For you shall be called the city of God,  
the dwelling of the Holy One of Israel.

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 [1 Maccabees 2:1-14]:

In those days Mattathias son of John son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib,
moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modein. He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi,
Simon called Thassi, Judas called Maccabeus, Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan
called Apphus. He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem, and
'Alas! Why was I born to see this,
   the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city,
and to live there when it was given over to the enemy,
   the sanctuary given over to aliens?
Her temple has become like a person without honour;
   her glorious vessels have been carried into exile.
Her infants have been killed in her streets,
   her youths by the sword of the foe.
What nation has not inherited her palaces
   and has not seized her spoils?
All her adornment has been taken away;
   no longer free, she has become a slave.
And see, our holy place, our beauty,
   and our glory have been laid waste;
the Gentiles have profaned them.
   Why should we live any longer?'

Then Mattathias and his sons tore their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned

Words: Latin, eighteenth century; trans. Edward Caswall, 1849
Tune: St. Bernard

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All ye who seek for sure relief
in trouble and distress,
whatever sorrow vex the mind,
or guilt the soul oppress.

Jesus, who gave himself for you
upon the Cross to die,
opens to you his sacred heart;
O to that heart draw nigh.

Ye hear how kindly he invites;
ye hear his words so blessed;
"All ye that labor come to me,
and I will give you rest."

O Jesus, joy of saints on high,
thou hope of sinners here,
attracted by those loving words
to thee we lift our prayer.

Wash thou our wounds in that dear blood
which from thy heart doth flow;
a new and contrite heart on all
who cry to thee bestow.

SECOND READING [Acts 16:16-24]:

One day, as Paul and we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who
had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by
fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, 'These men are
slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.' She kept doing
this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I order
you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.' And it came out that very
But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul
and Silas and dragged them into the market-place before the authorities. When they
had brought them before the magistrates, they said, 'These men are disturbing our city;
they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to
adopt or observe.' The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them
stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had
given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to
keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and
fastened their feet in the stocks. 

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

We pray for the use of God's gifts to his Church, saying
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy, hear us

God our Father,
you give us gifts that we may work together
in the service of your Son:
Bless those who lead,
that they may be firm in faith, 
yet humble before you.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who teach,
that they may increase our understanding,    
and be open to your word for them:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who minister healing,
that they may bring wholeness to other, 
yet know your healing in themselves:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those through whom you speak,
that they may proclaim your word in power,
yet have their ears open to your gentle whisper:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who work in your world today
that they may live for you, fulfil your purposes,
and seek your kingdom first
in the complexity of their daily lives.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who feel they have no gifts and are not valued,
and those who are powerless by the world's standards,
that they may share their experience
of the work of your Spirit.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Jesus, Son of David, Mighty One of God,
you have called us to be priests of the new covenant:
clothe us with righteousness,
make us faithful
and give us hearts to shout for joy
   in your salvation.
To you be glory for ever! Amen.

Lord of all nations, 
by the conversion of Bernard Mizeki 
you raised up from the people of Africa 
a missionary faithful even to death: 
Fill your people with love 
in the face of hatred and fear 
and make us ready to live or die 
for the name of Jesus; 
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and forever. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

God of all trust,
may our faith be shown in our lives
marked with abundant joy, outrageous hope,
and dependence on nothing
but your word, Jesus Christ.  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 prayers by
Alan Griffiths.

Bernard Mizeki was born in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) in about
1861. When he was twelve or a little older, he left his home and went to
Capetown, South Africa, where for the next ten years he worked as a laborer,
living in the slums of Capetown, but (perceiving the disastrous effects of
drunkenness on many workers in the slums) firmly refusing to drink alcohol,
and remaining largely uncorrupted by his surroundings. After his day's work,
he attended night classes at an Anglican school. Under the influence of his
teachers, from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE, an Anglican
religious order for men, popularly called the Cowley Fathers), he became a
Christian and was baptized on 9 March 1886. Besides the fundamentals of
European schooling, he mastered English, French, high Dutch, and at least
eight local African languages. In time he would be an invaluable assistant when
the Anglican church began translating its sacred texts into African languages.

After graduating from the school, he accompanied Bishop Knight-Bruce to
Mashonaland, a tribal area in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), to work
there as a lay catechist. In 1891 the bishop assigned him to Nhowe, the village
of paramount-chief Mangwende, and there he built a mission-complex. He
prayed the Anglican hours each day, tended his subsistence garden, studied the
local language (which he mastered better than any other foreigner in his day),
and cultivated friendships with the villagers. He eventually opened a school,
and won the hearts of many of the Mashona through his love for their children.

He moved his mission complex up onto a nearby plateau, next to a grove of
trees sacred to the ancestral spirits of the Mashona. Although he had the chief's
permission, he angered the local religious leaders when he cut some of the
trees down and carved crosses into others. Although he opposed some local
traditional religious customs, Bernard was very attentive to the nuances of the
Shona Spirit religion. He developed an approach that built on people's already
monotheistic faith in one God, Mwari, and on their sensitivity to spirit life,
while at the same time he forthrightly proclaimed the Christ. Over the next five
years (1891-1896), the mission at Nhowe produced an abundance of converts.

Many black African nationalists regarded all missionaries as working for the
European colonial governments. During an uprising in 1896, Bernard was
warned to flee. He refused, since he did not regard himself as working for
anyone but Christ, and he would not desert his converts or his post. On 18
June 1896, he was fatally speared outside his hut. His wife and a helper went to
get food and blankets for him. They later reported that, from a distance, they
saw a blinding light on the hillside where he had been lying, and heard a
rushing sound, as though of many wings. When they returned to the spot his
body had disappeared. The place of his death has become a focus of great
devotion for Anglicans and other Christians, and one of the greatest of all
Christian festivals in Africa takes place there every year around the feast day
that marks the anniversary of his martyrdom, June 18. [James Kiefer]

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