Morning Prayer 2.4.16, Cornelius the Centurion, 1st Gentile Convert to Christianity

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Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

The Jewish cemetery in Fort Wayne, Indiana was vandalized recently, with about 60 headstones pushed over or broken. Police theorize that two or more people were necessary to do that much damage, but so far they’re not calling it a hate crime for lack of any anti-Semitic graffiti. (News-Sentinel)

The Jewish cemetery in Fort Wayne, Indiana was vandalized recently, with about 60 headstones pushed over or broken. Police theorize that two or more people were necessary to do that much damage, but so far they’re not calling it a hate crime for lack of any anti-Semitic graffiti. (News-Sentinel)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

INVITATORY AND PSALTER

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

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.

Psalm 95:1-7
Venite

Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before God’s presence with thanksgiving;
and raise to the Lord a shout with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God;
you are great above all gods.
In your hand are the caverns of the earth;
and the heights of the hills are yours also.
The sea is yours, for you made it,
and your hands have molded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee,
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For you are our God,
and we are the people of your pasture, and the sheep of your hand.
Oh, that today we would hearken to your voice!

Psalm 71

1  In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; *
let me never be ashamed.
2  In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; *
incline your ear to me and save me.
3  Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; *
you are my crag and my stronghold.
4  Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, *
from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.
5  For you are my hope, O Lord GOD, *
my confidence since I was young.
6  I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;
from my mother’s womb you have been my strength; *
my praise shall be always of you.
7  I have become a portent to many; *
but you are my refuge and my strength.
8  Let my mouth be full of your praise *
and your glory all the day long.
9  Do not cast me off in my old age; *
forsake me not when my strength fails.
10  For my enemies are talking against me, *
and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.
11  They say that God has forsaken me,
that they will come after me and seize me; *
because there is none who will save.
12  O God, be not far from me; *
come quickly to help me, O my God.
13  Let those who set themselves against me be put to shame and be disgraced; *
let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.
14  But I shall always wait in patience, *
and shall praise you more and more.
15  My mouth shall recount your mighty acts
and saving deeds all day long; *
though I cannot know the number of them.
16  I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord GOD; *
I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.
17  O God, you have taught me since I was young, *
and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.

18  And now that I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, *
till I make known your strength to this generation
and your power to all who are to come.
19  Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens; *
you have done great things;
who is like you, O God?
20  You have showed me great troubles and adversities, *
but you will restore my life
and bring me up again from the deep places of the earth.
21  You strengthen me more and more; *
you enfold and comfort me.
22  Therefore I will praise you upon the lyre for your faithfulness, O my God; *
I will sing to you with the harp, O Holy One of Israel.
23  My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, *
and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.
24  My tongue will proclaim your righteousness all day long, *
for they are ashamed and disgraced who sought to do me harm.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

THE LESSONS
Genesis 23:1-20 (NRSV)

Sarah lived one hundred twenty-seven years; this was the length of Sarah’s life. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Abraham rose up from beside his dead, and said to the Hittites, “I am a stranger and an alien residing among you; give me property among you for a burying place, so that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places; none of us will withhold from you any burial ground for burying your dead.” Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. He said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me Ephron son of Zohar, so that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as a possession for a burying place.” Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, “No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it; in the presence of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.” Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. He said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “If you only will listen to me! I will give the price of the field; accept it from me, so that I may bury my dead there.” Ephron answered Abraham, “My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver—what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” Abraham agreed with Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.

So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, passed to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, in the presence of all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it passed from the Hittites into Abraham’s possession as a burying place.

Canticle: A Song of Wisdom
Wisdom 10:15-19,20b-21

Wisdom freed from a nation of oppressors *
a holy people and a blameless race.
She entered the soul of a servant of the Lord, *
withstood dread rulers with wonders and signs.
To the saints she gave the reward of their labors, *
and led them by a marvelous way;
She was their shelter by day *
and a blaze of stars by night.
She brought them across the Red Sea, *
she led them through mighty waters;
But their enemies she swallowed in the waves *
and spewed them out from the depths of the abyss.
And then, Lord, the righteous sang hymns to your Name, *
and praised with one voice your protecting hand;
For Wisdom opened the mouths of the mute, *
and gave speech to the tongues of a new-born people.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Hebrews 11:32—12:2 (NRSV)

And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Canticle: A Song of True Motherhood
by Julian of Norwich

God chose to be our mother in all things *
and so made the foundation of his work,
most humbly and most pure, in the Virgin’s womb.
God, the perfect wisdom of all, *
arrayed himself in this humble place.
Christ came in our poor flesh *
to share a mother’s care.
Our mothers bear us for pain and for death; *
our true mother, Jesus, bears us for joy and endless life.
Christ carried us within him in love and travail, *
until the full time of his passion.
And when all was completed and he had carried us so for joy, *
still all this could not satisfy the power of his wonderful love.
All that we owe is redeemed in truly loving God, *
for the love of Christ works in us;
Christ is the one whom we love.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

John 6:60-71 (NRSV)

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

THE PRAYERS

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

V.  Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
R.  Govern and uphold them, now and always.
V.  Day by day we bless you;
R.  We praise your Name for ever.
V.  Lord, keep us from all sin today;
R.  Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
V.  Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R.  For we put our trust in you.
V.  In you, Lord, is our hope;
R.  And we shall never hope in vain.

Cornelius wasn’t just any Gentile, but a hated Roman occupying soldier; by custom Jesus should never have spoken with him. But Cornelius, who was known in the Jewish community as a benefactor and God-fearing man, went to Jesus and asked him to heal a dying slaveboy he loved. Jesus offered to accompany Cornelius to his house, but the soldier said that wasn’t necessary; all that was needed was that Jesus give the order and it would be done, “for I too am a man under authority.” Jesus was deeply pleased and declared that this non-Jew was “the most faithful man in Israel.” (iconographer unknown)

Cornelius wasn’t just any Gentile, but a hated Roman occupying soldier; by custom Jesus should never have spoken with him. But Cornelius, who was known in the Jewish community as a benefactor and God-fearing man, went to Jesus and asked him to heal a dying slaveboy he loved. Jesus offered to accompany Cornelius to his house, but the soldier said that wasn’t necessary; all that was needed was that Jesus give the order and it would be done, “for I too am a man under authority.” Jesus was deeply pleased and declared that this non-Jew was “the most faithful man in Israel.” (iconographer unknown)

Collect of the Day: Cornelius the Centurion

O God, by your Spirit you called Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles: Grant to your Church such a ready will to go where you send and to do what you command, that under your guidance it may welcome all who turn to you in love and faith, and proclaim the Gospel to all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for Guidance

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday Morning Prayer List

In Places of War, Political Unrest & Violence
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, México, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Venezuela, Yemen

For peace in these nations
For peacemakers and peacekeepers
For civilians in danger zones
For first responders and emergency workers in harm’s way

Please add your own intercessions, supplications and thanksgivings here.

Prayer for Mission

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfil now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

God’s blessing be with us,
Christ’s peace be with us,
the Spirit’s outpouring be with us,
now and always. Amen.++

VIDEO: Evangelism – Kelly Steele, Diocese of Georgia, 2015

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