OREMUS: 9 March 2012

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Thu Mar 8 17:00:03 GMT 2012

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OREMUS for March 9
Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, Priest, Poet, 1929

 Born in 1883, Studdert Kennedy was a young vicar in Worcester who became
an army chaplain during the First World War. His warm personality soon
earned the respect of soldiers, who nicknamed him 'Woodbine Willie' after the
brand of cigarettes he shared with them. After the First World War, he became
a writer and regular preacher, drawing large crowds, who were attracted by his
combination of traditional sacramental theology with more unconventional
theological views. He worked tirelessly for the Christian Industrial Fellowship,
but his frail health gave way and he died (still a young man) on this day in

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

IT is too far away; 
It were presumption to suppose the span 
Of our poor human life were long enough 
To travel there. Let us then wait God's time, 
And when our little evening fades away 
To darken into night of death, we shall 
Awake to find ourselves within its gates. 
So many have set out and fallen faint 
And weary by the way; so many saints 
Have left their bones to witness how they failed; 
Shall we poor sinners then succeed? Vain hope! 
It is not for this world, nor of this world, 
That Kingdom of the Christ. It lies beyond 
The mountains, where the sun of this life sets. 

So coward pilgrims talk 
To comfort their faint hearts, and soothe to peace 
Uneasy consciences that call within 
And bid them rise, awake, and walk the way, 
The steep white way of wonder, up to God. 
It is not far--'tis but a little way, 
But steep, over the hill of Calvary 
And through the Garden, where the tomb, rock-hewn, 
Stands empty, with a great stone rolled aside. 
There lies the pilgrim path by which He went, 
That first great Pilgrim, blazing out the trail 
By Blood of Sacrifice. There still He stands, 
And calls: I am the Way--the Truth--the Life; 
O ye of little faith! Arise and walk! 
Am I not with you always as ye climb?

An opening canticle may be sung. 

Psalm 44

We have heard with our ears, O God,
our forebears have told us,*
 the deeds you did in their days,
 in the days of old. 
How with your hand
you drove the peoples out
and planted our forebears in the land;*
 how you destroyed nations
 and made your people flourish. 
For they did not take
the land by their sword,
nor did their arm win the victory for them;*
 but your right hand, your arm,
 and the light of your countenance,
 because you favoured them. 
You are my King and my God;*
 you command victories for Jacob. 
Through you
we pushed back our adversaries;*
 through your name we trampled
 on those who rose up against us. 
For I do not rely on my bow,*
 and my sword does not give me the victory. 
Surely, you gave us victory
over our adversaries*
 and put those who hate us to shame. 
Every day we gloried in God,*
 and we will praise your name for ever. 
Nevertheless, you have rejected
and humbled us*
 and do not go forth with our armies. 
You have made us fall back
before our adversary,*
 and our enemies have plundered us. 
You have made us like sheep to be eaten*
 and have scattered us among the nations. 
You are selling your people for a trifle*
 and are making no profit
 on the sale of them. 
You have made us the scorn
of our neighbours,*
 a mockery and derision to those around us. 
You have made us a byword
among the nations,*
 a laughing-stock among the peoples. 
My humiliation is daily before me,*
 and shame has covered my face; 
Because of the taunts
of the mockers and blasphemers,*
 because of the enemy and avenger. 
All this has come upon us;*
 yet we have not forgotten you,
 nor have we betrayed your covenant. 
Our heart never turned back,*
 nor did our footsteps stray from your path; 
Though you thrust us down
into a place of misery,*
 and covered us over with deep darkness. 
If we have forgotten the name of our God,*
 or stretched out our hands
 to some strange god, 
Will not God find it out?*
 for he knows the secrets of the heart. 
Indeed, for your sake
we are killed all the day long;*
 we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 
Awake, O Lord! why are you sleeping?*
 Arise! do not reject us for ever. 
Why have you hidden your face*
 and forgotten our affliction and oppression? 
We sink down into the dust;*
 our body cleaves to the ground. 
Rise up and help us,*
 and save us for the sake
 of your steadfast love. 

Psalm 45

My heart is stirring with a noble song;
let me recite
what I have fashioned for the king;*
 my tongue shall be the pen
 of a skilled writer. 
You are the fairest of men;*
 grace flows from your lips,
 because God has blessed
 you for ever. 
Strap your sword
upon your thigh, O mighty warrior,*
 in your pride and in your majesty. 
Ride out and conquer in the cause of truth*
 and for the sake of justice. 
Your right hand will show you
marvellous things;*
 your arrows are very sharp,
 O mighty warrior. 
The peoples are falling at your feet,*
 and the king's enemies are losing heart. 
Your throne, O God,
endures for ever and ever,*
 a sceptre of righteousness
 is the sceptre of your kingdom;
 you love righteousness
 and hate iniquity; 
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you*
 with the oil of gladness above your fellows. 
All your garments are fragrant
with myrrh, aloes and cassia,*
 and the music of strings
 from ivory palaces makes you glad. 
Kings' daughters stand among
the ladies of the court;*
 on your right hand is the queen,
 adorned with the gold of Ophir. 
'Hear, O daughter;
consider and listen closely;*
 forget your people
 and your family's house.   
'The king will have pleasure
in your beauty;*
 he is your master;
 therefore do him honour. 
'The people of Tyre are here with a gift;*
 the rich among the people
 seek your favour.' 
All glorious is the princess as she enters;*
 her gown is cloth-of-gold. 
In embroidered apparel
she is brought to the king;*
 after her the bridesmaids follow
 in procession. 
With joy and gladness they are brought,*
 and enter into the palace of the king. 
'In place of fathers, O king,
you shall have sons;*
 you shall make them princes
 over all the earth. 
'I will make your name to be remembered
from one generation to another;*
 therefore nations will praise you
 for ever and ever.' 

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,*
 a very present help in trouble; 
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth be moved,*
 and though the mountains be toppled
 into the depths of the sea; 
Though its waters rage and foam,*
 and though the mountains
 tremble at its tumult. 
The Lord of hosts is with us;*
 the God of Jacob is our stronghold. 
There is a river whose streams
make glad the city of God,*
 the holy habitation of the Most High. 
God is in the midst of her;
she shall not be overthrown;*
 God shall help her at the break of day. 
The nations make much ado
and the kingdoms are shaken;*
 God has spoken
 and the earth shall melt away. 
The Lord of hosts is with us;*
 the God of Jacob is our stronghold. 
Come now and look
upon the works of the Lord,*
 what awesome things he has done on earth. 
It is he who makes war
to cease in all the world;*
 he breaks the bow and shatters the spear
 and burns the shields with fire. 
'Be still, then, and know that I am God;*
 I will be exalted among the nations;
 I will be exalted in the earth.' 
The Lord of hosts is with us;*
 the God of Jacob is our stronghold. 
FIRST READING [Ezekiel 14:12-23]:

The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it, and break its staff of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it human beings and animals, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job, these three, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, says the Lord God. If I send wild animals through the land to ravage it, so that it is made desolate, and no one may pass through because of the animals; even if these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate. Or if I bring a sword upon that land and say, 'Let a sword pass through the land', and I cut off human beings and animals from it; though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be saved. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off humans and animals from it; even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither son nor daughter; they would save only their own lives by their righteousness. 

For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four deadly acts of judgement, sword, famine, wild animals, and pestilence, to cut off humans and animals from it! Yet, survivors shall be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; they will come out to you. When you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it. They shall console you, when you see their ways and their deeds; and you shall know that it was not without cause that I did all that I have done in it, says the Lord God. 

Words: Geoffrey Anketel Studdert-Kennedy
Tune: Morning Song   

Not here for high and holy things
we render thanks to thee,
but for the common things of earth,
the purple pageantry
of dawning and of dying days,
the splendor of the sea,

the royal robes of autumn moors,
the golden gates of spring,
the velvet of soft summer nights,
the silver glistering
of all the million million stars,
the silent song they sing,

of faith and hope and love undimmed,
undying still through death,
the resurrection of the world,
what time there comes the breath
of dawn that rustles through the trees,
and that clear voice that saith:

Awake, awake to love and work!
The lark is in the sky,
the fields are wet with diamond dew,
the worlds awake to cry
their blessings on the Lord of life,
as he goes meekly by.

Come, let thy voice be one with theirs,
shout with their shout of praise;
see how the giant sun soars up,
great lord of years and days!
So let the love of Jesus come
and set thy soul ablaze,

to give and give, and give again,
what God hath given thee;
to spend thyself nor count the cost;
to serve right gloriously
the God who gave all worlds that are,
and all that are to be.

SECOND READING [Romans 4:13-25]:

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations')—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become 'the father of many nations', according to what was said, 'So numerous shall your descendants be.' He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith 'was reckoned to him as righteousness.' Now the words, 'it was reckoned to him', were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. 

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

Let us pray for the true gifts of Lent:
renewal in our Church and in ourselves
for the service of the gospel.

Give us a deep sense of joy in the mystery of our calling to working with you in our world. Lord, renew us.

Give us too, Lord, a deep sense of our own inadequacy to open us to your saving power. Lord, renew us.

May we conquer some of our faults these weeks in true humility and for your service. Lord, renew us.

Send many workers into your vineyard in the joyful service of your gospel. Lord, renew us.

Give us the true spirit of forgiveness of those who have wronged us. Lord, renew us.

God of all times and seasons,
through these holy forty days
create in us a clean heart,
a mind centred on truth
and a life lived in faithful love.
By these gifts prepare us
to celebrate your Easter feast
of new and risen life
in Christ our Lord,
who is alive, now and for ever. Amen.

Glorious God, we give thanks not merely for high and holy things, but for the common things of earth which you have created: Wake us to love and work, that Jesus, the Lord of life, may set our hearts ablaze and that we, like Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, may recognize you in your people and in your creation, serving the holy and undivided Trinity; who lives and reigns throughout all ages of ages. Amen.
Trusting in the compassion of God,
let us pray as our Savior taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

BEAR Thou the Christ, 
      My little son. 
      He will not burden Thee, 
      That Holy One. 
For, by a mystery, 
Who bearest Him He bears 
Up to the radiant heights 
      Where Angels be, 
And heaven's crimson crown of lights 
Flames round the crystal sea. 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 the poem "The Coward Pilgrim" by G. Studdert-Kennedy. The closing "sentence" is "To Christopher" by the same poet. The first collect is from _Celebrating the Christian Year_ by Alan Griffiths. The petitions are adapted from _The Prayer of the Faithful for Weekdays_, ed. by Eltin Griffin. The second collect is from _Holy Women, Holy Men_, The Episcopal Church, 2009.

A final quotation from Studdert-Kennedy: " Religion leaves a million questions unanswered and apparently unanswerable. Its purpose and object is not to make a man certain and cocksure about everything but to make him certain about those things of which he must be certain if he is to live a human life at all. 
"Religion does not relieve us from the duty of thought; it makes it possible for a man to begin thinking. It does not put an end to research and enquiry, it gives a basis from which real research is made possible and fruitful of results; a basis without which thinking only means wandering round in circles, and getting nowhere in the end, and research means battering at a brass door that bruises our knuckles, and does not yield by the millionth part of an inch." (The Wicket Gate, 1923)

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