OREMUS: 3 December 2009

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Dec 2 17:32:44 GMT 2009

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OREMUS for Thursday, December 3, 2009
John of Damascus, Monk, Teacher of the Faith, c.749

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

Blessed are you, loving God,
ever faithful to your promises
and ever close to your church.
The earth rejoices in hope of the Savior's coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
You call us to prepare our hearts
and remove that which hinders us
from the joy and hope his presence will bestow.
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 18I love you, O Lord my strength,* O Lord my stronghold, my crag and my haven. My God, my rock in whom I put my trust,* my shield, the horn of my salvation and my refuge;   you are worthy of praise. I will call upon the Lord,* and so shall I be saved from my enemies. The breakers of death rolled over me,* and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid. The cords of hell entangled me,* and the snares of death were set for me. I called upon the Lord in my distress* and cried out to my God for help. He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling;* my cry of anguish came to his ears. The earth reeled and rocked;* the roots of the mountains shook;   they reeled because of his anger. Smoke rose from his nostrils   and a consuming fire out of his mouth;* hot burning coals blazed forth from him. He parted the heavens and came down* with a storm cloud under his feet. He mounted on cherubim and flew;* he swooped on the wings of the wind. He wrapped darkness about him;* he made dark waters and thick clouds his pavilion. From the brightness of his presence, through the clouds,* burst hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord thundered out of heaven;* the Most High uttered his voice. He loosed his arrows and scattered them;* he hurled thunderbolts and routed them. The beds of the seas were uncovered,   and the foundations of the world laid bare,* at your battle cry, O Lord,   at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. He reached down from on high and grasped me;* he drew me out of great waters. He delivered me from my strong enemies   and from those who hated me;* for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster;* but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into an open place;* he rescued me because he delighted in me. 
The Lord rewarded me because of my righteous dealing;* because my hands were clean he rewarded me; For I have kept the ways of the Lord* and have not offended against my God; For all his judgements are before my eyes,* and his decrees I have not put away from me; For I have been blameless with him* and have kept myself from iniquity; Therefore the Lord rewarded me   according to my righteous dealing,* because of the cleanness of my hands in his sight. With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God;* with the forthright you show yourself forthright. With the pure you show yourself pure,* but with the crooked you are wily. You will save a lowly people,* but you will humble the haughty eyes. You, O Lord, are my lamp;* my God, you make my darkness bright. With you I will break down an enclosure;* with the help of my God I will scale any wall. As for God, his ways are perfect;   the words of the Lord are tried in the fire;* he is a shield to all who trust in him. For who is God, but the Lord?* who is the rock, except our God? It is God who girds me about with strength* and makes my way secure. He makes me sure-footed like a deer* and lets me stand firm on the heights. He trains my hands for battle* and my arms for bending even a bow of bronze. You have given me your shield of victory;* your right hand also sustains me;   your loving care makes me great. You lengthen my stride beneath me,* and my ankles do not give way. I pursue my enemies and overtake them;* I will not turn back till I have destroyed them. I strike them down and they cannot rise;* they fall defeated at my feet. You have girded me with strength for the battle;* you have cast down my adversaries beneath me;   you have put my enemies to flight. I destroy those who hate me;   they cry out, but there is none to help them;* they cry to the Lord, but he does not answer. I beat them small like dust before the wind;* I trample them like mud in the streets. You deliver me from the strife of the peoples;* you put me at the head of the nations. A people I have not known shall serve me;   no sooner shall they hear than they shall obey me;* strangers will cringe before me. The foreign peoples will lose heart;* they shall come trembling out of their strongholds. The Lord lives! Blessèd is my rock!* Exalted is the God of my salvation! He is the God who gave me victory* and cast down the peoples beneath me. You rescued me from the fury of my enemies;   you exalted me above those who rose against me;* you saved me from my deadly foe; Therefore will I extol you among the nations, O Lord,* and sing praises to your name. He multiplies the victories of his king;* he shows loving-kindness to his anointed,   to David and his descendants for ever. FIRST READING [Isaiah 4:2-end]:

 On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgement and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed, over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

Words:  John of Damascus, eighth century;
trans. John Mason Neale, 1862 
Tune: St. Alban's

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Those eternal bowers, man hath never trod,
those unfading flowers round the throne of God:
who may hope to gain them after weary fight?
who at length attain them, clad in robes of white?

He who wakes from slumber at the Spirit's voice,
daring here to number things unseen his choice:
he who casts his burden down at Jesus' cross--
Christ' reproach his guerdon, all beside but loss.

He who gladly barters all on earthly ground;
he who, like the martyrs, says "I will be crowned;"
he whose one oblation is a life of love,
knit in God's salvation to the blest above.

Shame upon you, legions of the heavenly King,
citizens of regions past imagining!
Why with pipe and tabor waste the hours of light,
when he bids you labor, when he tells you, "Fight"?

Jesus, Lord of glory, as we breast the tide,
whisper thou the story of the other side;
where the saints are casting crowns before thy feet,
safe for everlasting, in thyself complete. 

SECOND READING [Revelation 6:1-11]:

Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer. 

When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, ‘Come!’ And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword. 

When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s pay, and three quarts of barley for a day’s pay, but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!’ 

When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, ‘Come!’ I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth. 

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, ‘Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’ They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow-servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed. 

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.

God of the future,
help us to live with our eyes open,
and remember your faithfulness;
may we entrust our lives
into the hands of Jesus,
whose coming is certain, 
whose day draws near,
and in whose name we pray. Amen.

Confirm our minds, O Lord, 
in the mysteries of the true faith, 
set forth with power by your servant John of Damascus; 
that we, with him, confessing Jesus 
to be truly God and truly Human, 
and singing the praises of the risen Lord, 
may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Awaiting his coming in glory,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

O Son of God, our Savior,
today we await your coming,
and tomorrow we shall see your glory.
Reveal the good news to all of us
who long for your arrival.
Come, Love incarnate, do not delay.
Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

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
_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 opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are adapted from
_Chalice Worship_, (c) Chalice Press, 1997. Reproduced with

The first collect is from _Uniting in Worship 2</cite, (c) 2005
Uniting Church in Australia. The second collect is from _The Proper for the Lesser
Feasts and Fasts_, 3rd edition, (c) 1980 The Church Pension Fund.

John is generally accounted "the last of the Fathers". He was the son of a
Christian official at the court of the moslem khalif Abdul Malek, and succeeded
to his father's office. In his time there was a dispute among Christians between
the Iconoclasts (image-breakers) and the Iconodules (image-venerators or
image-respectors). The Emperor, Leo III, was a vigorous upholder of the
Iconoclast position. John wrote in favor of the Iconodules with great
effectiveness. Ironically, he was able to do this chiefly because he had the
protection of the moslem khalif (ironic because the moslems have a strong
prohibition against the religious use of pictures or images). John is also known
as a hymn-writer. Two of his hymns are sung in English at Easter ("Come ye
faithful, raise the strain" and "The Day of Resurrection! Earth, tell it out
abroad!"). Many more are sung in the Eastern Church. His major writing is
THE FOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE, of which the third part, THE ORTHODOX
FAITH, is a summary of Christian doctrine as expounded by the Greek
The dispute about icons was not a dispute between East and West as such.
Both the Greek and the Latin churches accepted the final decision. The
Iconoclasts maintained that the use of religious images was a violation of the
Second Commandment ("Thou shalt not make a graven image... thou shalt not
bow down to them"). The Iconodules replied that the coming of Christ had
radically changed the situation, and that the commandment must now be
understood in a new way, just as the commandment to "Remember the Sabbath
Day" must be understood in a new way since the Resurrection of Jesus on the
first day of the week. Before the Incarnation, it had indeed been improper to
portray the invisible God in visible form; but God, by taking fleshly form in the
person of Jesus Christ, had blessed the whole realm of matter and made it a fit
instrument for manifesting the Divine Splendor. He had reclaimed everything in
heaven and earth for His service, and had made water and oil, bread and wine,
means of conveying His grace to men. He had made painting and sculpture and
music and the spoken word, and indeed all our daily tasks and pleasures, the
common round of everyday life, a means whereby man might glorify God and
be made aware of Him. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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