Evening Prayer 12.26.20, St. Stephen, Deacon & Martyr

The Vicar reads Evening Prayer.

 

While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

St. Stephen window at Ely Cathedral, England.

Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

INVITATORY AND PSALTER

O God, be not far from us.
Come quickly to help us, O 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. Alleluia.

Hymn: Light of the World

Light of the world in grace and beauty,
Mirror of God’s eternal face,
Transparent flame of love’s free duty,
You bring salvation to our race.
Now, as we see the lights of evening,
We raise our voice in hymns of praise;
Worthy are you of endless blessing,
Sun of our night, lamp of our days.

Psalm 118

1 Give thanks to the LORD, who is good; *
whose mercy endures for ever.
2 Let Israel now proclaim, *
“The mercy of the LORD endures for ever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron now proclaim, *
“The mercy of the LORD endures for ever.”
4 Let those who fear the LORD now proclaim, *
“The mercy of the LORD endures for ever.”
5 I called to the LORD in my distress; *
the LORD answered by setting me free.
6 The LORD is at my side, therefore I will not fear; *
what can anyone do to me?
7 The LORD is at my side to help me; *
I will triumph over those who hate me.
8 It is better to rely on the LORD *
than to put any trust in flesh.
9 It is better to rely on the LORD *
than to put any trust in rulers.
10 All the ungodly encompass me; *
in the Name of the LORD I will repel them.
11 They hem me in, they hem me in on every side; *
in the name of the LORD I will repel them.
12 They swarm about me like bees;
they blaze like a fire of thorns; *
in the name of the LORD I will repel them.
13 I was pressed so hard that I almost fell, *
but the LORD came to my help.

14 The LORD is my strength and my song, *
and has become my salvation.
15 There is a sound of exultation and victory *
in the tents of the righteous:
16 ”The right hand of the LORD has triumphed! *
the right hand of the LORD is exalted!
the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!”
17 I shall not die, but live, *
and declare the works of the LORD.
18 The LORD has punished me sorely, *
but he did not hand me over to death.

19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; *
I will enter them;
I will offer thanks to the LORD.
20 ”This is the gate of the LORD; *
those who are righteous may enter.”
21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *
and have become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected *
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’s doing, *
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 On this day the LORD has acted; *
we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Hosanna, LORD, hosanna! *
LORD, send us now success.
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord; *
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 God is the LORD, who has shined upon us; *
form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar.
28 “You are my God, and I will thank you; *
you are my God, and I will exalt you.”
29 Give thanks to the LORD, who is good; *
whose mercy endures for ever.

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.

Stephen, the first Deacon and first Martyr in Christendom. The apostles’ laying of hands on Stephen and his brothers became the outward and visible sign of the sacrament of ordination. The saint is sometimes depicted as an older man of Peter’s age, but Stephen’s innocence and sanctity lend themselves to images of his youth. (artist unknown)

THE LESSONS
Wisdom 4:7-15 (NRSV)

But the righteous, though they die early, will be at rest.
For old age is not honored for length of time,
or measured by number of years;
but understanding is gray hair for anyone,
and a blameless life is ripe old age.

There were some who pleased God and were loved by him,
and while living among sinners were taken up.
They were caught up so that evil might not change their understanding
or guile deceive their souls.
For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good,
and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
Being perfected in a short time, they fulfilled long years;
for their souls were pleasing to the Lord,
therefore he took them quickly from the midst of wickedness.
Yet the peoples saw and did not understand,
or take such a thing to heart,
that God’s grace and mercy are with his elect,
and that he watches over his holy ones.

Canticle: The Song of Mary
Luke 1:46-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in you, O God my Savior, *
for you have looked with favor on your lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
you, the Almighty, have done great things for me,
and holy is your Name.
You have mercy on those who fear you *
from generation to generation.
You have shown strength with your arm, *
and scattered the proud in their conceit,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones, *
and lifting up the lowly.
You have filled the hungry with good things, *
and sent the rich away empty.
You have come to the help of your servant Israel, *
for you have remembered your promise of mercy,
The promise made to our forebears, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.

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 stoning of St. Stephen is a shocking thing, but well worth attending to closely, that the day after the joy of Christmas we are confronted with the horrific shock of seeing someone murdered for Christ. But this reality is contained within the Christ Mass itself; the lections and songs are full of the love of God, but the Sacrament begins “On the night he was handed over to suffering and death.” Stephen was the first martyr for Christ, a joyful deacon and powerful preacher so near to the heart and mind of Jesus that he had to be killed too. It was the ultimate honor, which is why the Church calls this a major feast day. (iconographer unknown)

(iconographer unknown)

Acts 7:59 – 8:8 (NRSV)

While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. And Saul approved of their killing him.

That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.

Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city.

Canticle: The Song of Simeon
Luke 2:29-32

Lord, you now have set your servant free *
to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, *
whom you have prepared for all the world to see:
A Light to enlighten the nations, *
and the glory of your people Israel.

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 APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
his only son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He 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,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
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

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. Show us your mercy, O Lord;
R. And grant us your salvation.
V. Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
R. Let your people sing with joy.
V. Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
R. For only in you can we live in safety.
V. Lord, keep this nation under your care;
R. And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
V. Let your way be known upon earth;
R. Your saving health among all nations.
V. Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
R. Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
V. Create in us clean hearts, O God;
R. And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

Luis de Morales, 1575: St. Stephen. This image doesn’t need violence to convey his deep distress – and, in the corner, his consolation. (Prado, Madrid)

Collect of the Day: St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

In Time of Calamity

O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of fires, protests and viruses, we flee to you for succor. Deliver the people, we beseech you, from their peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the needy; prosper the means of their safety; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we all may apply our hearts unto your heavenly wisdom which leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Collect for Saturdays

O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth your unending day upon us who watch for you, that our lips may praise you, our lives may bless you, and our worship on the morrow give you glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday Evening Prayer List: For the Church

Anglican Cycle of Prayer: Dioceses of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar; Florida, USA; and False Bay, South Africa

For Our Mission Partners
Cuttington University School of Nursing, Liberia
Haiti Nursing Foundation
Diocese of Brasilia Afterschool Program, Brazil
Rosebud Episcopal Mission, South Dakota
St. André’s School, Mithon, Haiti
Matthew Shepard Foundation

For All Christian Churches
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
for all the Churches of the world

Please add your own prayers here.

For Mission

O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Romans 15:13++

VIDEO: Still, still, still (Austrian folk tune, 1865; Georg Götsch, tr. unknown) – Choir of Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts, 2009

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