OREMUS: 25 January 2012

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Jan 24 17:00:00 GMT 2012



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OREMUS for January 25
The Conversion of Saint Paul  

The conversion of the anti-Christian zealot, Saul, to the apostle of Christ, Paul, is clearly related in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, but it has to be remembered that this was a beginning: Saul took some time to become Paul and some time to begin to understand that his call to preach -- to Jew and to Gentile -- the saving power of Jesus, the Son of God, was something that was a whole life's journey for him. Paul says in his Letter to the Church in Galatia, "God set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace ... Three years after (the Damascus Road conversion), I went up to Jerusalem." The preparation for this moment of his conversion was his whole life. This feast has been celebrated in the Church since the sixth century but became universal in the twelfth century.  

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

The gospel we proclaim
is not of human origin;
for we did not receive it
from a human source,
nor were we taught it,
but we received it
through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 
Let us worship God.

Blessed are you, almighty God,
God of covenant and God of grace:
we thank you for the preaching
of your apostle Paul,
who taught that Jesus is the fulfillment
of the covenant you made with Israel. 
Paul shared his experience
of your unlimited grace
with everyone he met,
for he knew that your grace
is for all of humankind.
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. 
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Psalm 119:33-72

Teach me, O Lord, 
the way of your statutes,*
 and I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding 
and I shall keep your law;*
 I shall keep it with all my heart.
Make me go 
in the path of your commandments,*
 for that is my desire.
Incline my heart to your decrees*
 and not to unjust gain.
Turn my eyes from watching
what is worthless;*
 give me life in your ways.
Fulfil your promise to your servant,*
 which you make to those who fear you.
Turn away the reproach which I dread,*
 because your judgements are good.
Behold, I long for your commandments;*
 in your righteousness preserve my life.
Let your lovingkindness
come to me, O Lord,*
 and your salvation,
 according to your promise.
Then shall I have a word
for those who taunt me,*
 because I trust in your words.
Do not take the word of truth
out of my mouth,*
 for my hope is in your judgements.
I shall continue to keep your law;*
 I shall keep it for ever and ever.
I will walk at liberty,*
 because I study your commandments.
I will tell of your decrees before kings*
 and will not be ashamed.
I delight in your commandments,*
 which I have always loved.
I will lift up my hands
to your commandments,*
 and I will meditate on your statutes.
Remember your word to your servant,*
 because you have given me hope.
This is my comfort in my trouble,*
 that your promise gives me life.
The proud have derided me cruelly,*
 but I have not turned from your law.
When I remember your judgements of old,*
 O Lord, I take great comfort.
I am filled with a burning rage,*
 because of the wicked
 who forsake your law.
Your statutes have been like songs to me*
 wherever I have lived as a stranger.
I remember your name 
in the night, O Lord,*
 and dwell upon your law.
This is how it has been with me,*
 because I have kept your commandments.
You only are my portion, O Lord;*
 I have promised to keep your words.
I entreat you with all my heart,*
 be merciful to me
 according to your promise.
I have considered my ways*
 and turned my feet towards your decrees.
I hasten and do not tarry*
 to keep your commandments.
Though the cords
of the wicked entangle me,*
 I do not forget your law.
At midnight I will rise to give you thanks,*
 because of your righteous judgements.
I am a companion of all who fear you*
 and of those 
 who keep your commandments.
The earth, O Lord, is full of your love;*
 instruct me in your statutes.
O Lord, you have dealt graciously
with your servant,*
 according to your word.
Teach me discernment and knowledge,*
 for I have believed in your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,*
 but now I keep your word.
You are good and you bring forth good;*
 instruct me in your statutes.
The proud have smeared me with lies,*
 but I will keep your commandments
 with my whole heart.
Their heart is gross and fat,*
 but my delight is in your law.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted,*
 that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is dearer to me*
 than thousands in gold and silver.

FIRST READING [Genesis 9:1-13]:

God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life. 
Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person's blood be shed;
for in his own image God made humankind. And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.' 

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 'As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.' God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 
 
HYMN 
Words: John Ellerton, 1871
Tune: King's Lynn, Munich, Ellacombe, Llangloffan, Missionary

We sing the glorious conquest
before Damascus' gate,
when Saul, the Church's spoiler
came breathing threats and hate.
The ravening wolf rushed forward
full early to the prey;
but lo! the Shepherd met him,
and bound him fast today.

O glory most excelling
that smote across his path!
O light that pierced and blinded
the zealot in his wrath!
O voice that spake within him
the calm, reproving word!
O love that sought and held him
the bondman of his Lord!

O Wisdom ordering all things
in order strong and sweet,
what nobler spoil was ever
cast at the Victor's feet?
What wiser master builder
e'er wrought at thine employ
than he, till now so furious
thy building to destroy?

Lord, teach thy Church the lesson,
still in her darkest hour
of weakness and of danger,
to trust thy hidden power;
thy grace by ways mysterious
the wrath of man can bind,
and in thy boldest foeman
thy chosen saint can find.

SECOND READING [Acts 9:1-22]:

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' He asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' The reply came, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.' The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, 'Ananias.' He answered, 'Here I am, Lord.' The Lord said to him, 'Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.' But Ananias answered, 'Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.' But the Lord said to him, 'Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.' So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.' All who heard him were amazed and said, 'Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?' Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.

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

Prayer:
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace: give us grace to seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be  all of one heart and of one soul,
united in one holy bond of peace, of faith and charity and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of your Gospel 
to shine throughout the world: Grant that we may follow his example and be witnesses to the truth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and 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

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever! 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 biography is from Exciting Holiness © European Province of the Society of Saint Francis, 1997. The opening sentence is based on Galatians 1:11-12. opening prayer of thanksgiving is adapted by Stephen Benner from a sermon by Luke Bouman at http://www.predigten.uni-goettingen.de/archiv-6/040125-3-e.html. The collect is from _Evangelical Lutheran Worship_, (c) 2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The closing sentence is Romans 16:25-27.



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