OREMUS: 23 February 2012

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Feb 22 17:00:00 GMT 2012

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OREMUS for Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155

Honoured as one of the first Christian martyrs, Polycarp had been Bishop of Smyrna on the Adriatic coast of Asia Minor for over forty years when the persecution of Christians began. He was arrested and given the option to renounce his faith and so save his life. His response was: "I have been Christ's servant for eighty-six years and he has done me no harm. Can I now blaspheme my King and my Saviour?" He was immediately burnt at the stake. His remains were gathered together and buried outside the city; thus began the practice of celebrating the eucharist over his burial place on the anniversary of his death, a practice which also grew over the martyrs' tombs in the Roman catacombs. Polycarp died in the year 155. 

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us. 

Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat
falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a single grain;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
Let us worship God.	

Blessed are you, O God most mighty,
O God most merciful, 
O God our rock and our salvation. 
When the world was a formless void, 
you formed order and beauty. 
You entered our sorrows
in Jesus our brother. 
He was born among the poor, 
lived under oppression, 
and wept over the city. 
With infinite love, 
he brought your life to all people. 
For these and all your mercies, we praise you: 
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 

Psalm 114

Alleluia! When Israel came out of Egypt,*
 the house of Jacob
 from a people of strange speech, 
Judah became God's sanctuary*
 and Israel his dominion. 
The sea beheld it and fled;*
 Jordan turned and went back. 
The mountains skipped like rams,*
 and the little hills like young sheep. 
What ailed you, O sea, that you fled?*
 O Jordan, that you turned back? 
You mountains,
that you skipped like rams?*
 you little hills like young sheep? 
Tremble, O earth,
at the presence of the Lord,*
 at the presence of the God of Jacob, 
Who turned the hard rock
into a pool of water*
 and flint-stone into a flowing spring. 

Psalm 115

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name give glory;*
 because of your love
 and because of your faithfulness. 
Why should the heathen say,*
 'Where then is their God?' 
Our God is in heaven;*
 whatever he wills to do he does. 
Their idols are silver and gold,*
 the work of human hands. 
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;*
 eyes have they, but they cannot see; 
They have ears, but they cannot hear;*
 noses, but they cannot smell; 
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
feet, but they cannot walk;*
 they make no sound with their throat. 
Those who make them are like them,*
 and so are all who put their trust in them. 
O Israel, trust in the Lord;*
 he is their help and their shield. 
O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord;*
 he is their help and their shield. 
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord;*
 he is their help and their shield. 
The Lord has been mindful of us
and he will bless us;*
 he will bless the house of Israel;
 he will bless the house of Aaron; 
He will bless those who fear the Lord,*
 both small and great together. 
May the Lord increase you more and more,*
 you and your children after you. 
May you be blessed by the Lord,*
 the maker of heaven and earth. 
The heaven of heavens is the Lord's,*
 but he entrusted the earth to its peoples. 
The dead do not praise the Lord,*
 nor all those who go down into silence; 
But we will bless the Lord,*
 from this time forth for evermore. Alleluia! 
FIRST READING [Ezekiel 1:1-14]:

In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was on him there. 

As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire. The living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning. 

Words: W Vernon Higham (born 1926) © W Vernon Higham
Metre: CM

When in an alien land we wept
And sang Thy praises there,
Sad was our song, yet we were kept
Safe in Thy gracious care.

Far, far away we kept Thy word
And cherished Thy dear name;
We heeded not the scorn and sword
Of those who Thee defame.

Thy precious seed of life we bore
Sowing in tears of love;
Longing to see that open door
With blessings from above.

Often we dreamt of Thy great power,
And agonized in prayer;
Then in Thy mercy came a shower
Of grace upon us there.

The people trembled at the sound
Of such a God as Thee;
Then Thou didst come, and we were found
Safe in Thine arms to be.

Our mouths were filled with laughter loud
And song in sweet accord,
Then with our hearts and souls we bowed
To Thee our sovereign God.

Many the sheaves our arms did raise
Of those by Thee embraced;
Thine be the glory, ours to praise
As we Thy wonders traced.

Like those that dream and yet awake
We dreamt of being free;
For now in Christ the captives break
Their bonds in Calvary.

SECOND READING [2 Peter 3:1-10]:

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour spoken through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!' They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the godless. 

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

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

Show us your mercy, O Lord;
And grant us your salvation.

O Lord, save our nation;
And teach wisdom to those in authority.

Let your priests be clothed with righteousness;
Let your faithful people sing with joy.

Let your ways be known upon earth;
Your saving health among all nations.

Give your people the blessing of peace
And may all the earth be filled with your glory.

Create in us clean hearts, O God,
And renew a right spirit within us.

O God, generous and supreme,
your loving Son lived among us,
instructing us in the ways of humility and justice.
Continue to ease our burdens,
and lead us to serve alongside him,
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, 
who gave to your servant Polycarp 
boldness to confess the name
of our Savior Jesus Christ 
before the rulers of this world 
and courage to die for this faith: 
grant that we also may be ready to give 
an answer for the faith that is in us 
and to suffer gladly
for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Trusting in the compassion of God,
let us pray as our Savior taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

Grant that we may eagerly follow Jesus' call,
and bring us with all your saints
into your life of justice and joy. 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 biography is from Exciting Holiness © European Province of the Society of Saint Francis, 1997. The opening sentence is John 12:24. The opening prayer of thanksgiving, the first collect, and the closing sentence are adapted from _Evangelical Lutheran Worship_, (c) 2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 

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