Morning Prayer 9.13.18, John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, 407

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God, who knows the human heart, testified to the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us.

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Mid-Atlantic states, let’s look at how the U.S. Virgin Islands are faring a year after Maria and Irma: many homes and buildings, including churches, remain in disrepair. This is St. Ursula’s on St. John. The entrance is blocked by pieces of the bell tower. Windows are boarded up. Sheets of “FEMA blue” tarp hang where the roof used to be. There is no money for shingles, which have to be shipped in from the mainland (with a mandatory stop in Puerto Rico, which needs them too). Everything costs twice as much, and even if shingles could be found, there’s no one to make repairs because all the contractors have long waiting lists. Parishioners have little money for the church; their roofs are FEMA blue too and they leak after every rain. The hospitality industry has come back somewhat and visitors enjoy themselves, but the big resorts are still closed and employment is nowhere near pre-storm levels. St. John is covered with luxury homes owned by absentee landlords, crowding out residents who care for their communities. People are just trying to feed their families and send their kids to a school that’s open. Churches are likely to remain this way until mainland churches send missioners, and those folks need places to stay. One parish has set up a little dormitory to house them, but it can’t cover the need. The U.S. government has poured in billions, but not to repair churches. The islanders are very resilient, but often their only option is to make do for now with what’s left. (Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service)

The Lord is in the holy temple; let all the earth keep silence. Habakkuk 2:20

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

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 you are 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 50

1 The LORD, the God of gods, has spoken; *
and has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, *
God shines forth in glory.
3 Our God will come and will not keep silence; *
before God there is a consuming flame,
and round about a raging storm.
4 God calls the heavens and the earth from above *
to witness the judgment of the chosen people.
5 Gather before me my loyal followers, *
those who have made a covenant with me
and sealed it with sacrifice.”
6 Let the heavens declare the rightness of God’s cause; *
for it is God who is judge.

7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak:
“O Israel, I will bear witness against you; *
for I am God, your God.
8 I do not accuse you because of your sacrifices; *
your offerings are always before me.
9 I will take no bull-calf from your stalls, *
nor he-goats out of your pens;
10 For all the beasts of the forest are mine, *
the herds in their thousands upon the hills.
11 I know every bird in the sky, *
and the creatures of the fields are in my sight.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, *
for the whole world is mine and all that is in it.
13 Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls, *
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and make good your vows to the Most High.
15 Call upon me in the day of trouble; *
I will deliver you, and you shall honor me.”

16 But to the wicked God says: *
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and take my covenant upon your lips;
17 Since you refuse discipline, *
and toss my words behind your back?
18 When you see thieves, you make them your friends, *
and you cast in your lot with adulterers.
19 You have loosed your lips for evil, *
and harnessed your tongue to a lie.
20 You are always speaking evil of your kin *
and slandering your own flesh and blood.
21 These things you have done, and I kept still, *
and you thought that I am like you.”

22 ”I have made my accusation; *
I have put my case in order before your eyes.
23 Consider this well, you who forget God, *
lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you.
24 Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me; *
but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God.”

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.

(Orthodox Church in America)

THE LESSONS
Job 29:1; 31:1-23 (NRSV)

Job again took up his discourse and said:

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin? What would be my portion from God above, and my heritage from the Almighty on high? Does not calamity befall the unrighteous, and disaster the workers of iniquity? Does he not see my ways, and number all my steps?

“If I have walked with falsehood, and my foot has hurried to deceit—let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!—if my step has turned aside from the way, and my heart has followed my eyes, and if any spot has clung to my hands; then let me sow, and another eat; and let what grows for me be rooted out.

“If my heart has been enticed by a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door; then let my wife grind for another, and let other men kneel over her. For that would be a heinous crime; that would be a criminal offense; for that would be a fire consuming down to Abaddon, and it would burn to the root all my harvest.

“If I have rejected the cause of my male or female slaves, when they brought a complaint against me; what then shall I do when God rises up? When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him? Did not he who made me in the womb make them? And did not one fashion us in the womb?

“If I have withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the orphan has not eaten from it—for from my youth I reared the orphan like a father, and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow—if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or a poor person without covering, whose loins have not blessed me, and who was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have raised my hand against the orphan, because I saw I had supporters at the gate; then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder, and let my arm be broken from its socket. For I was in terror of calamity from God, and I could not have faced his majesty.”

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.

A medieval Italian carving depicts circumcision; simply as a ritual act, it might convey membership in a group, but it’s hard to see it as related to salvation, plus it’s male only. (Wikipedia)

Acts 15:1-11 (NRSV)

Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

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.

James Tissot, c. 1894: Jesus, Mary and Martha. (Brooklyn Museum)

John 11:17-29 (NRSV)

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to 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 power of 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.

St. John the Golden-Tongued (as he was called, for he was an eloquent preacher) at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Collect of the Day: John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, 407

O God, you gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching, and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; 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.

Blessed Are You Who Bear the Light
By Jan Richardson

Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives,
in whom
the brightness blazes—
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith
in stubborn hope
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.

America’s Gun Toll
Compiled by Michael Hartney
Week of September 1 – September 7, 2018
Source: Gun Violence Archive

Gun incidents YTD: 39,797
Deaths: 9,980
Injuries: 19,667
Children injured or killed: 2,449
Police officers injured or killed: 201
Shootings of 4 or more injured or killed: 247

4 or more shootings reported this week:

Aurora, Colorado
2 dead; 3 injured

Cleveland
1 dead; 7 injured

Lauderhill, Florida
1 dead; 3 injured

Trenton, New Jersey
4 injured

Patterson, New Jersey
2 dead; 2 injured

San Bernardino, California
8 injured

Birmingham, Alabama
6 injured

San Antonio
4 injured

Fort Smith, Arkansas
4 injured

Albany, Georgia
4 injured

Cincinnati
4 dead; 5 injured

Total number of gun incidents this week: 1,111

Kids in Chicago walked out of school last April to protest gun violence on the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado. (Whitten Sabatini/The New York Times)

A Prayer to End Gun Violence
Diocese of Newark

Gracious Lord who loves us so perfectly, help us to better love you and each other. We weep for the gun violence that kills children and so many others, where guns replaced prayers and homes without you bred frustration. May hearts be changed through your Holy Spirit that justice, mercy, money and, yes, even guns might be used rightly under Heaven, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

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.

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: Bleed the Same – Mandisa featuring TobyMac & Kirk Franklin, 2018

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