OREMUS: 26 December 2010

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Sat Dec 25 17:00:01 GMT 2010


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OREMUS for December 26
Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr

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

Blessed are you, loving and merciful God,
you look upon us in mercy not in judgment;
you draw us from hatred to love;
you make the frailty of our praise
a dwelling place for your glory.
We thank you for the signs of your mercy
revealed in birth and death:
save us by the coming of your Son,
and give us joy in honoring Stephen,
first martyr of the new Israel;
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. 

http://www.oremus.org/chrocant.html

Psalm 119:145-176

I call with my whole heart;*
 answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes.
I call to you; O that you would save me!*
 I will keep your decrees.
Early in the morning I cry out to you,*
 for in your word is my trust.
My eyes are open in the night watches,*
 that I may meditate upon your promise.
Hear my voice, O Lord,
   according to your lovingkindness;*
 according to your judgements, give me life.
They draw near who in malice persecute me;*
 they are very far from your law.
You, O Lord, are near at hand,*
 and all your commandments are true.
Long have I known from your decrees*
 that you have established them for ever.

Behold my affliction and deliver me,*
 for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me;*
 according to your promise, give me life.
Deliverance is far from the wicked,*
 for they do not study your statutes.
Great is your compassion, O Lord;*
 preserve my life, according to your judgements.
There are many who persecute and oppress me,*
 yet I have not swerved from your decrees.
I look with loathing at the faithless,*
 for they have not kept your word.
See how I love your commandments!*
 O Lord, in your mercy, preserve me.
The heart of your word is truth;*
 all your righteous judgements endure for evermore.

Rulers have persecuted me without a cause,*
 but my heart stands in awe of your word.
I am as glad because of your promise*
 as one who finds great spoils.
As for lies, I hate and abhor them,*
 but your law is my love.
Seven times a day do I praise you,*
 because of your righteous judgements.
Great peace have they who love your law;*
 for them there is no stumbling block.
I have hoped for your salvation, O Lord,*
 and I have fulfilled your commandments.
I have kept your decrees*
 and I have loved them deeply.
I have kept your commandments and decrees,*
 for all my ways are before you.
Let my cry come before you, O Lord;*
 give me understanding, according to your word.
Let my supplication come before you;*
 deliver me, according to your promise.
My lips shall pour forth your praise,*
 when you teach me your statutes.
My tongue shall sing of your promise,*
 for all your commandments are righteous.
Let your hand be ready to help me,*
 for I have chosen your commandments.
I long for your salvation, O Lord,*
 and your law is my delight.
Let me live and I will praise you,*
 and let your judgements help me.
I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost;*
 search for your servant,
   for I do not forget your commandments.

FIRST READING [Isaiah 51:12–16]:

I, I am he who comforts you;
   why then are you afraid of a mere mortal who must die,
   a human being who fades like grass? 
You have forgotten the Lord, your Maker,
   who stretched out the heavens
   and laid the foundations of the earth.
You fear continually all day long
   because of the fury of the oppressor,
who is bent on destruction.
   But where is the fury of the oppressor? 
The oppressed shall speedily be released;
   they shall not die and go down to the Pit,
   nor shall they lack bread. 
For I am the Lord your God,
   who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
   the Lord of hosts is his name. 
I have put my words in your mouth,
   and hidden you in the shadow of my hand,
stretching out the heavens
   and laying the foundations of the earth,
   and saying to Zion, 'You are my people.' 

HYMN 
Words: Latin; trans. John Mason Neale, 1852
Tune: St. Thomas

>
Saint of God, elect and precious,
protomartyr Stephen, bright
with thy love of amplest measure,
shining round thee like a light;
who to God commendest, dying,
them that did thee all despite.

Glitters now the crown above thee,
figured in thy honored name:
O that we, who truly love thee,
may have portion in the same;
Ii the dreadful day of judgment
fearing neither sin nor shame.

Laud to God, and might, and honor,
who with flowers of rosy dye
crowned thy forehead, and hath placed thee
in the starry throne on high:
he direct us, he protect us,
from death's sting eternally.

SECOND READING [Matthew 1:18–25]:

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 
'Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
   and they shall name him Emmanuel',
which means, 'God is with us.' When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

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

Prayer:
O God, 
you came down to earth
bringing down eternal life for all.
Let us pray:
May your perfect love cast out all fear.

We praise you and ask you for courage
to accept life's sufferings.
May your perfect love cast out all fear.

We give you thanks for Stephen and all the early martyrs,
who showed faith when challenged and confronted:
May your perfect love cast out all fear.

You did not condemn Paul at the time of Stephen's death,
teach us to withhold judgment and give us patient hearts:
May your perfect love cast out all fear.

You graced Stephen with gifts of wisdom and goodness;
help us to appreciate these gifts in those around us:
May your perfect love cast out all fear.

You have strengthened your Church
through the faith and death of your martyrs;
hear our prayers for your Church.
May your perfect love cast out all fear.

Heavenly Father,
give us grace in all our sufferings for the truth
to follow the example of your martyr Stephen:
that we also may look to him who was crucified
and pray for those who persecute us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
       
Rejoicing in the presence of God here among us,
let us pray in faith and trust:

- The Lord's Prayer

May God who has brought us out of darkness
give us a place with the saints in light
in the kingdom of his Son. Amen.

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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 uses a prayer 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 closing sentence is a prayer in _New Patterns for Worship_,
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen is described as one of the seven deacons whose job it is to care for the widows in the early Church in Jerusalem. His eloquent speech before the Sanhedrin, in which he shows the great sweep of Jewish history as leading to the birth of Jesus, the long-expected Messiah, and his impassioned plea that all might hear the good news of Jesus, leads to his inevitable martyrdom by being stoned to death. As the author of Acts, Luke's description of Stephen bears direct parallels to that of Christ: for example, the passion; being filled with the Holy Spirit; seeing the Son of God as the right hand of God, as Jesus promised he would be; commending his spirit to Jesus, as Jesus commended his to the Father; kneeling as Jesus did in Gethsemane and asking forgiveness for his persecutors. Witnessing to Jesus by acting like Jesus in every way is thus seen by Luke as of the essence of the Christian life. [Exciting Holiness]


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