OREMUS: 4 February 2012

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Fri Feb 3 17:00:00 GMT 2012

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OREMUS for February 4

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

God has imprinted
the image of the good things
of his own nature on creation.
When the mud on your heart
has been washed away,
the Godlike beauty will again shine out in you.
Let us worship God.

Blessed are you, God of a thousand faces,
for all who give you a face
by spreading your love in the world. 
For all who give you hands, 
by doing their best toward their sisters and brothers. 
For all who give you a mouth, 
by defending the weak and the oppressed. 
For all who give you eyes, 
by seeing every bit of love possible in you. 
For all who give you a heart, 
by preferring the poor to the rich, 
the weak to the strong. 
For all who reveal you
simply by what they are, 
because they reflect your beauty in their lives. 
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 

Psalm 22

My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?*
 and are so far from my cry
 and from the words of my distress? 
O my God, I cry in the daytime,
but you do not answer;*
 by night as well, but I find no rest. 
Yet you are the Holy One,*
 enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 
Our forebears put their trust in you;*
 they trusted and you delivered them. 
They cried out to you and were delivered;*
 they trusted in you
 and were not put to shame. 
But as for me, I am a worm and no man,*
 scorned by all and despised by the people. 
All who see me laugh me to scorn;*
 they curl their lips
 and wag their heads, saying, 
'He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him;*
 let him rescue him, if he delights in him.' 
Yet you are he
who took me out of the womb,*
 and kept me safe upon my mother's breast. 
I have been entrusted to you
ever since I was born;*
 you were my God
 when I was still in my mother's womb. 
Be not far from me, for trouble is near,*
 and there is none to help. 
Many young bulls encircle me;*
 strong bulls of Bashan surround me. 
They open wide their jaws at me,*
 like a ravening and a roaring lion. 
I am poured out like water;
all my bones are out of joint;*
 my heart within my breast is melting wax. 
My mouth is dried out like a pot-sherd;
my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;*
 and you have laid me
 in the dust of the grave. 
Packs of dogs close me in,
and gangs of evildoers circle around me;*
 they pierce my hands and my feet;
 I can count all my bones. 
They stare and gloat over me;*
 they divide my garments among them;
 they cast lots for my clothing. 
Be not far away, O Lord;*
 you are my strength; hasten to help me. 
Save me from the sword,*
 my life from the power of the dog. 
Save me from the lion's mouth,*
my wretched body
from the horns of wild bulls. 
I will declare your name to my people;*
 in the midst of the congregation
 I will praise you. 
Praise the Lord, you that fear him;*
 stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;
 all you of Jacob's line, give glory. 
For he does not despise nor abhor
the poor in their poverty;
neither does he hide his face from them;*
 but when they cry to him he hears them. 
My praise is of him in the great assembly;*
 I will perform my vows
 in the presence of those who worship him. 
The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the Lord
shall praise him:*
 'May your heart live for ever!' 
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the Lord,*
 and all the families of the nations
 shall bow before him. 
For kingship belongs to the Lord;*
 he rules over the nations. 
To him alone all who sleep in the earth
bow down in worship;*
 all who go down to the dust fall before him. 
My soul shall live for him;
my descendants shall serve him;*
 they shall be known as the Lord's for ever. 
They shall come and make known
to a people yet unborn*
 the saving deeds that he has done. 

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;*
 I shall not be in want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures*
 and leads me beside still waters. 
He revives my soul*
 and guides me along
 right pathways for his name's sake. 
Though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil;*
 for you are with me;
 your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me;*
 you have anointed my head with oil,
 and my cup is running over. 
Surely your goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life,*
 and I will dwell
 in the house of the Lord for ever. 

FIRST READING [Numbers 13:1-2,27-33]:

The Lord said to Moses, 'Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites; from each of their ancestral tribes you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.' And they told him, 'We came to the land to which you sent us; it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Yet the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the land of the Negeb; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea, and along the Jordan.' 

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, 'Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.' Then the men who had gone up with him said, 'We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we are.' So they brought to the Israelites an unfavourable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, 'The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.' 

Words: © W Vernon Higham (1926-)
Meter: LM

I once believed my life a gain,
And thought that I would grace attain:
The Spirit showed me all the dross,
And now I see it all but loss.

Then I beheld the Saviour's face,
And looked upon a life of grace:
When I compared my feeble chart,
Shame and remorse then filled my heart.

O to be found in Christ alone,
For on the cross He did atone:
He took my sin and nailed it there,
And gave a gown of grace to wear.

Now I dismiss my foolish pride,
Covered in Christ, in whom I hide:
All this by faith that will not fail,
Granted by God, I will prevail.

O wondrous joy the Lord to know,
I will delight Thy name to show:
Yet, I desire to know Thee more,
I hunger for Thy boundless store.

Thy risen power I long to prove,
Fully enabled in each move:
Through fellowship of suffering sweet,
I worship Thee and ever greet.

Confirm me now in image strange;
Death worketh life, what great exchange!
Yet I believe in Thine increase;
Lord, evermore may I decrease.

Lord, all my life to do Thy will,
This by Thy grace I will fulfill:
Then Thou wilt change my body vile,
Fashioned in Christ - I wait awhile.

SECOND READING [Philippians 3:1-11]:

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. 

To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard. 

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh— even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 

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

Father, hear us as we pray for all of humankind and the world, and help us to know our kinship with them as fellow members of your family. 

Break down the prejudice, the selfishness and fear that separate men from one another. Help the nations of the world to find a way to live together in peace with honour. Forgive the arrogance of the strong and the resentment of the weak. Bless the work of all those who are bringing aid to needy countries throughout the world, and show us how we must bridge the gap between wealth and poverty, plenty and hunger. 

We pray for all those who find the pace and strain of life too much for them; for those who fear redundancy; for those who have lost confidence in themselves; for those who are slowing down through illness or increasing years; for those who are over-sensitive to criticism; for those who are overworked and underpaid; for all who are worn down in body or in mind by the burdens which they carry. 

Give your help and guidance, Lord God, to all whose work affects the lives of others. Give wisdom and integrity to our leaders; to those who serve in government; to our industrialists,  business executives, and union leaders; to all who control the mass media of communication. May those who have authority and power over their fellows use it with sense and restraint for the good of all and for your glory. 

Bless and strengthen the bonds of family life within our land. Teach us how to understand one another better, parents and children, husbands and wives; and through deeper understanding deepen our love. May peace and joy dwell in our hearts and in our homes. 

Father, we bring to you now the special needs of people known to us as neighbours and as friends: those who are sick; those who are bereaved; those who are lonely; those who are afraid; those who are ashamed; and those who are bitter. You know their needs better than we do. Give them, not what we ask, but what your love directs. 

We remember our own loved ones who have passed through death to a new life. For their memory we give thanks, and for our fellowship with them now in your presence. Bring us at the last where they are, to those things which our lips cannot utter but which our hearts long for, in the glory of your kingdom. 

Merciful Lord, you are the only giver of pardon and peace: Cleanse us your faithful people from our sins that we may serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives 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

Let your Son become flesh in us
so that we may be for all
the revelation of your love. 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 sentence is adapted from a passage by Gregory of Nyssa. The opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are based on a prayer by Lucien Deiss. The intercession is from the Church of Scotland. 

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