FRIDAY THE TWENTY-FIRST OF APRIL, 2017
Lord, kindle in us the fire of your love; help our weakness, that, strengthened in you and by you, we may take heed by good works to make our calling sure. Whatsoever our hand finds to do, may we straightway do it, with the desire to please you only, and you then become our exceeding great reward. Amen.
PSALM SEVENTY-FOUR ( abridged )
Arise, O God, maintain your own cause.
O God, why have you utterly disowned us?
Why does your anger burn
against the sheep of your pasture?
How long, O God, will the adversary scoff?
Shall the enemy blaspheme your name for ever?
Why have you withheld your hand
and hidden your right hand in your bosom?
Yet God is my king from of old,
who did deeds of salvation in the midst of the earth.
It was you that divided the sea by your might;
you cleft the rock for fountain and flood;
you dried up ever-flowing rivers.
Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you established the moon and the sun.
You set all the bounds of the earth;
you fashioned both summer and winter.
Remember now, Lord, how the enemy scoffed,
how a foolish people despised your name.
Do not give to wild beasts the soul of your turtle dove;
forget not the lives of your poor for ever.
Look upon your creation,
for the earth is full of darkness,
full of the haunts of violence.
Let not the oppressed turn away ashamed,
but let the poor and needy praise your name.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Arise, O God, maintain your own cause.
renew your broken people
with your Holy Spirit,
that they may walk your narrow way,
and greet your coming dawn
in Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
On this day in 1649, the colony of Maryland passed a toleration act which made it legal for any Trinitarian religious group to worship in Maryland without prejudice. If you were Jewish, or Unitarian, too bad. This was not total religious liberty, but rather one slow, small, first step toward it.
It is hard for people in today’s society to even imagine how intolerant people were in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries toward the practice of alternative forms of faith. In England, the Church of England became the established church to the exclusion of everyone else. Roman Catholics in England, were entirely suppressed, and to practice the Roman Catholic faith could lead to arrest, imprisonment, even death. So-called “priest-holes” were established in the homes of the gentry, where renegade Roman Catholic priests could hide from authorities, whilst travelling around celebrating mass. The Maryland Colony itself was founded as a refuge for English Roman Catholics who chose to leave England for the sake of practicing their faith freely in America.
On the continent of Europe during the same time, it was one battle after another, all over religious intolerance. The Thirty Years War, from 1618 to 1648 decimated Europe. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 tried to hammer out which parts of Europe were to remain Roman Catholic and which parts would be Lutheran, Reformed, Calvinist. It was open season on non-Trinitarians. They were fair game for everyone. They found some small refuge in Poland, where they clung to their own faith.
In most places as the seventeenth century dawned, religious truth was publicly held truth. So obviously there could be only one true faith, and the rest imposters or heretics,. If you were one of the various Protestant faiths, Rome became the Whore of Babylon. If you were a Roman Catholic, those Protestants were the Spawn of Satan.
By the middle of the seventeenth century a weary world recognised that something had to give, and what gave was the notion of religion as public truth. As the century progressed religion came to be seen as a private opinion. When religion was privately held, people could afford to be tolerant in allowing divergent worship practices, so long as no one was compelled to worship in a way that offended his or her own conscience. The tiny colony of Maryland took a slow, small step toward toleration on this day in 1649. Other small steps were added over time.
Scripture. In the eighteenth chapter of John’s gospel, at verses thirty-seven to thirty-eight, we hear this famous exchange:
"Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’
"Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’"
... for peace in the world.
... that all may be tolerant of the peaceful, religious beliefs of others.
... for an end to the religious extremism that is causing so much pain, death and oppression in our world today.
... for the policeman shot dead and for those who were injured when an Islamist gunman opened fire on a bus on the Champs Elysees in Paris, yesterday evening.
... for an end to capital punishment for God commands us not to kill.
... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
From "The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians":
And let the presbyters be compassionate and merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor, but always “providing for that which is becoming in the sight of God and man;” abstaining from all wrath and unjust judgment; keeping far off from all covetousness, not quickly crediting an evil report against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin.
If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and “we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and must every one give an account of himself.”
Let us then serve him in fear, and with all reverence, even as he himself has commanded us, and as the apostles who preached the gospel unto us, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord have alike taught us.
Let us be zealous in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offence, from false brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and draw away vain men into error.
Almighty God, we come before you as sinners who share the guilt of all those who, throughout time and today, slay their fellow human beings in the name of Christ. Forgive us and change us by your love, that your word of hope may be heard clearly throughout the world; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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