Morning Prayer 9.23.22, Thecla of Iconium, Proto-martyr among women, c. 70; Ember Day

We’re relieved to be done with the Judith story today:

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Judith was left alone in the tent, with Holofernes stretched out on his bed, for he was dead drunk.

Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, led a memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II Wednesday at Washington National Cathedral, with politicians, military leaders and diplomats in attendance, including smiling Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, second from right. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

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

GENERAL CONFESSION

God of all mercy,
we confess that we have sinned against you,
opposing your will in our lives.
We have denied your goodness in each other,
in ourselves, and in the world you have created.
We repent of the evil that enslaves us,
the evil we have done,
and the evil done on our behalf.
Forgive, restore, and strengthen us
through our Savior Jesus Christ,
that we may abide in your love
and serve only your will. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through the grace of Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

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 88

1 O LORD, my God, my Savior, *
by day and night I cry to you.
2 Let my prayer enter into your presence; *
incline your ear to my lamentation.
3 For I am full of trouble; *
my life is at the brink of the grave.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; *
I have become like one who has no strength;
5 Lost among the dead, *
like the slain who lie in the grave,
6 Whom you remember no more, *
for they are cut off from your hand.
7 You have laid me in the depths of the Pit, *
in dark places, and in the abyss.
8 Your anger weighs upon me heavily, *
and all your great waves overwhelm me.
9 You have put my friends far from me;
you have made me to be abhorred by them; *
I am in prison and cannot get free.
10 My sight has failed me because of trouble; *
LORD, I have called upon you daily;
I have stretched out my hands to you.
11 Do you work wonders for the dead? *
will those who have died stand up and give you thanks?
12 Will your loving-kindness be declared in the grave? *
your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
13 Will your wonders be known in the dark? *
or your righteousness in the country where all is forgotten?
14 But as for me, O LORD, I cry to you for help; *
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
15 LORD, why have you rejected me? *
why have you hidden your face from me?
16 Ever since my youth, I have been wretched and at the point of death; *
I have borne your terrors with a troubled mind.
17 Your blazing anger has swept over me; *
your terrors have destroyed me;
18 They surround me all day long like a flood; *
they encompass me on every side.
19 My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, *
and darkness is my only companion.

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.

Cristofano Allori, c. 1613: Judith with the Head of Holofernes (Royal Collection, London)

THE LESSONS
Judith 13:1-20 (NRSV)

When evening came, his slaves quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from outside and shut out the attendants from his master’s presence. They went to bed, for they all were weary because the banquet had lasted so long. But Judith was left alone in the tent, with Holofernes stretched out on his bed, for he was dead drunk.

Now Judith had told her maid to stand outside the bedchamber and to wait for her to come out, as she did on the other days; for she said she would be going out for her prayers. She had said the same thing to Bagoas. So everyone went out, and no one, either small or great, was left in the bedchamber. Then Judith, standing beside his bed, said in her heart, ‘O Lord God of all might, look in this hour on the work of my hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. Now indeed is the time to help your heritage and to carry out my design to destroy the enemies who have risen up against us.’

She went up to the bedpost near Holofernes’ head, and took down his sword that hung there. She came close to his bed, took hold of the hair of his head, and said, ‘Give me strength today, O Lord God of Israel!’ Then she struck his neck twice with all her might, and cut off his head. Next she rolled his body off the bed and pulled down the canopy from the posts. Soon afterwards she went out and gave Holofernes’ head to her maid, who placed it in her food bag.

Then the two of them went out together, as they were accustomed to do for prayer. They passed through the camp, circled around the valley, and went up the mountain to Bethulia, and came to its gates. From a distance Judith called out to the sentries at the gates, ‘Open, open the gate! God, our God, is with us, still showing his power in Israel and his strength against our enemies, as he has done today!’

When the people of her town heard her voice, they hurried down to the town gate and summoned the elders of the town. They all ran together, both small and great, for it seemed unbelievable that she had returned. They opened the gate and welcomed them. Then they lit a fire to give light, and gathered around them. Then she said to them with a loud voice, ‘Praise God, O praise him! Praise God, who has not withdrawn his mercy from the house of Israel, but has destroyed our enemies by my hand this very night!’

Then she pulled the head out of the bag and showed it to them, and said, ‘See here, the head of Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian army, and here is the canopy beneath which he lay in his drunken stupor. The Lord has struck him down by the hand of a woman. As the Lord lives, who has protected me on the way I went, I swear that it was my face that seduced him to his destruction, and that he committed no sin with me, to defile and shame me.’

All the people were greatly astonished. They bowed down and worshiped God, and said with one accord, ‘Blessed are you our God, who have this day humiliated the enemies of your people.’

Then Uzziah said to her, ‘O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all other women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth, who has guided you to cut off the head of the leader of our enemies. Your praise will never depart from the hearts of those who remember the power of God. May God grant this to be a perpetual honor to you, and may he reward you with blessings, because you risked your own life when our nation was brought low, and you averted our ruin, walking in the straight path before our God.’ And all the people said, ‘Amen. Amen.’

Canticle: A Song of Jonah
Jonah 2:2-7, 9

I called to you, O God, out of my distress, and you answered me; *
out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.
You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, *
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and billows passed over me.
Then I said, “I am driven away from your sight; *
how shall I ever look again upon your holy temple?”
The waters closed in over me, the deep was round about me; *
weeds were wrapped around my head at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land beneath the earth, *
yet you brought up my life from the depths, O God.
As my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, O God, *
and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.
With the voice of thanksgiving, I will sacrifice to you; *
what I have vowed I will pay, for deliverance belongs to the Lord!

Adolf Pirsch, 1885: St. Paul Preaching in Ephesus before the Temple of Artemis

Acts 19:21-41 (NRSV)

Now after these things had been accomplished, Paul resolved in the Spirit to go through Macedonia and Achaia, and then to go on to Jerusalem. He said, “After I have gone there, I must also see Rome.” So he sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he himself stayed for some time longer in Asia.

About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans. These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, “Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.”

When they heard this, they were enraged and shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” The city was filled with the confusion; and people rushed together to the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s travel companions. Paul wished to go into the crowd, but the disciples would not let him; even some officials of the province of Asia, who were friendly to him, sent him a message urging him not to venture into the theater. Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, some another; for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd gave instructions to Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed forward. And Alexander motioned for silence and tried to make a defense before the people. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours all of them shouted in unison, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” But when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Citizens of Ephesus, who is there that does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the temple keeper of the great Artemis and of the statue that fell from heaven? Since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. You have brought these men here who are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the artisans with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges there against one another. If there is anything further you want to know, it must be settled in the regular assembly. For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” When he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Canticle: A Song to the Lamb
Revelation 4:11, 5:9-10, 13

Splendor and honor and kingly power *
are yours by right, O Lord our God,
For you created everything that is, *
and by your will they were created and have their being;
And yours by right, O Lamb that was slain, *
for with your blood you have redeemed for God,
From every family, language, people, and nation, *
a kingdom of priests to serve our God.
And so, to him who sits upon the throne, *
and to Christ the Lamb,
Be worship and praise, dominion and splendor, *
for ever and for evermore.

Anonymous, 11th C. fresco: Exorcism at the Synagogue in Capernaum (Wikipedia)

Luke 4:31-37 (NRSV)

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.

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. Help us, O God our Savior;
R. Deliver us and forgive us our sins.
V. Look upon your congregation;
R. Give to your people the blessing of peace.
V. Declare your glory among the nations;
R. And your wonders among all peoples.
V. Do not let the oppressed be shamed and turned away;
R. Never forget the lives of your poor.
V. Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you;
R. And your favor to those who are true of heart.
V. Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;
R. So shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

Thecla lived in Iconium and one day heard a sermon by St. Paul that so moved her, she went on an immediate three-day fast, then broke off her engagement in favor of virginity. This displeased her fiancé, her wealthy family and the Roman governor, so she was put to death. Her cult began very quickly afterward, and the Church claims she’s an example of the empowerment of women. This window is at the Basilica of Ars, France. (Biblical Archaeology)

Collect of the Day: Thecla of Iconium, Proto-Martyr among Women, c.70

God of liberating power, empower courageous evangelists among us, that men and women everywhere may know the freedom that you offer; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Ember Day Collect: For the choice of fit persons for the ministry

O God, you led your holy apostles to ordain ministers in every place: Grant that your Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may choose suitable persons for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of your kingdom; through him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for Fridays

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

Please add your own intercessions, supplications and thanksgivings here.

Collect 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.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all time and now and for ever. Amen. Jude 24-25++

VIDEO: The Lord is my shepherd (Will Todd; Psalm 23) – Glasgow Phoenix Choir, 2015

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