Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

* John of Damascus *


Lead me to pastures, Lord, and graze there with me. Do not let my heart lean either to the right or to the left, but let your good Spirit guide me along the straight path. Whatever I do, let it be in accordance with your will, now until the end. Amen.

( John of Damascus )


Unto God be glory, peace to men be given,
this his will who dwelleth in the heights of Heaven.

Bethlehem rejoices, hark the voices clear,
singing in the starlight nearer and more near.

Heaven can not contain him, nor the bounds of earth,
yet, O glorious mystery! Virgin gives him birth.

Now the light ariseth in the darkened skies,
now the proud are humbled and the lowly rise.

Unto God be glory, peace to men be given,
this his will who dwelleth in the heights of Heaven.

( John of Damascus )

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

John of Damascus: worshipping God through icons

Today Saint Laika’s remembers John of Damascus, generally regarded as the last of the ancient Church “fathers.”

He was born John Monsour, into a wealthy Arab-Christian family of Damascus. Like his father, he held a position high in the court of the caliph. About 725 he resigned his office and became a monk at the monastery of Mar Saba near Bethlehem, where he became a priest. In this secluded place at the relatively advanced age of fifty-one, John's lasting legacy began to unfold. It began when Emperor Leo III, in 726, outlawed the veneration of icons. This was partly influenced by Islam which, like Judaism, had strict prohibitions against the representation of the divine in artistic form.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, representations of God, Jesus, angels, and saints, are venerated during worship. These icons are highly stylised, and the paintings are thought of as a window through which the worshipper is looking into Heaven. At one point in the service, the minister takes a censer and goes to each icon in turn, bows and swings the censer at the icon. He then does the same thing to the congregation (ideally, if time permits, to each worshipper separately) as a sign that every Christian is an icon, made in the image and likeness of God. This is what Leo III outlawed in 726. In history this period has been known as the “Iconoclast” controversy. John of Damascus defended the use of icons in worship based on the incarnation of Jesus Christ: when God became human, he sanctified matter and made it holy. Through the veneration of icons, we are not worshipping the material world, we are worshipping the God who sanctified the material world when he entered it as Jesus Christ.

John is also known as a hymn-writer. Two of his hymns are sung in English at Easter ("Come ye faithful, raise the strain" and "The Day of Resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad!"). Many more are sung in the Eastern Church. His major writing is "The Fount of Knowledge," of which the third part, "The Orthodox Faith," is a summary of Christian doctrine as expounded by the Greek Fathers. He died on this day in 749AD.

Quote: "I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake.”

Scripture. In the first chapter of Colossians, at verses fifteen to seventeen we read:

Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers: all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.


We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the remnant of the Church in Syria.

... for the safety and freedom of Christians living in predominantly Muslim lands.

... for iconographers and all artists who, through their work, create a window for us to gaze on the divine.

... for the people of Honduras; for an end to the civil unrest in the country following the recent election.

... for those who have died recently 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.


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 "An Exact Exposition Of The Orthodox Faith" by John of Damascus:

Now, it seems that of all the names given to God the more proper is that of "He Who Is" as when in conversing with Moses on the mountain he says: "Say to the children
of Israel: He Who Is hath sent me." For, like some limitless and boundless sea of essence, he contains all being in himself.

The second name of God is "o qeos," derived from "qeein" (to run), because he courses through all things, or from "aiqein" (to burn): For God is a fire consuming all evils: or from "qeasqai," because he is all-seeing: for nothing can escape him, and over all he keeps watch. For he saw all things before they were, holding them timelessly in his thoughts; and each one conformably to his voluntary anti timeless thought, which constitutes predetermination and image and pattern, comes into existence at the predetermined time.

The first name then conveys the notion of his existence and of the nature of his existence: while the second contains the idea of energy. Further, the terms "without beginning," "incorruptible," "unbegotten," as also "uncreate," "incorporeal," "unseen," and so forth, explain what he is not: that is to say, they tell us that his being had no beginning, that he is not corruptible, nor created, nor corporeal, nor visible. Again, goodness and justice and piety and such like names belong to the nature, but do not explain his actual essence. Finally, "lord" and "king" and names of that class indicate a relationship with their contrasts: for the name "lord" has reference to those over whom the lord rules, and the name "king" to those under kingly authority, and the name "creator" to the creatures, and the name "shepherd" to the sheep he tends.


Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power by your servant John of Damascus; that we, with him, confessing Jesus to be true God and true man, and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our saviour and lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


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