THURSDAY THE NINETEENTH OF JANUARY, 2017
When we stand at the edge of fear and worry,
God invites us to step into the waters of faith and trust.
When we stand at the edge of the world's pain and need,
Jesus invites us to step into the land of humble service.
When we stand at the edge of our hunger and thirst:
the Spirit invites us to sit at the table of grace.<
you draw us near to your heart,
so that, cradled in compassion,
we might see the brokenness
of all who are around us.
you draw us near to yourself,
so that, by following you,
we may discover the deep joy
of serving the broken of the world.
you draw near to us with your peace,
so that, reconciled and restored to God,
we may be the healers to a world shattered by despair.
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we draw near to you in this time,
we lift our prayers to you.
Lord hear our prayers. Amen.
( Thom Shuman )
The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.
Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders;
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation;
the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
he makes Lebanon skip like a calf
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning;
the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe
and strips the forests bare;
in his temple all cry, 'Glory!'
The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people;
the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.
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.
The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.
Open our ears, glorious Lord Christ,
to hear the music of your voice
above the chaos of this world;
open our eyes to see the vision of your glory,
for you are our king, now and for ever. Amen.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
The Martyrs of Ancient Times
We often bring you a devotion about servants of Christ in more modern times, some well known, some less known. It is good to see how people in each generation serve Christ in so many and various ways. These next days, we go back in time to the ancient days, to the days of persecution, to the time when the church was so much less organised than today, to ancient saints hardly remembered today, who nevertheless, kept faith with Christ, at great risk to themselves.
Tomorrow, the twentieth of January, is the ancient feast of Fabian, bishop of Rome, who lived in the early to mid third century. When you think of the bishop of Rome today, you think perhaps of pomp and splendour or of someone who wields the power to shape the conviction of people all over the world. The stories surrounding Fabian show a simpler church.
It is said that after the death of Pope Antherus, a crowd had gathered to await the selection of a new bishop. Fabian was a layman in the crowd that day. According to the historian Eusebius, a dove flew into the building and landed on Fabian's head. The people immediately interpreted this to be an omen, and unanimously acclaimed Fabian their new pope. One can scarcely imagine such a thing happening today, yet he proved to be a capable leader. He organised the city of Rome into parishes and appointed scribes to record the lives of the martyrs for posterity.
In the year AD 239 the Roman emperor, Decius instituted a new, empire-wide persecution of Christians. Christians before that time had also suffered greatly for their faith, but the persecutions were local rather than universal. Now Decius was after the church leaders with a view toward total extinction.
Of course Fabian was at the top of the list. He was captured and brutally executed. The courage with which he went to his death was an inspiration to thousands who followed him in martyrdom. His broken tombstone in Rome still exists. On it three words can be discerned: “Fabian," "bishop," and "martyr.”
Fabian shares this day with Sebastian, who lived a bit later in the third century. He had a military background. Some sources say he was a member of the Praetorian Guard. He was spreading the faith in Christ through the military when he was discovered. The Emperor Diocletian ordered him to be tied to a stake in the middle of a field and to be shot to death with arrows. This aspect of Sebastian’s story has been captured numerous times in Western art. He actually survived his wounds and later was beaten to death for allegedly insulting the emperor. This earned him the title "The saint who died twice.”
Scripture. In "First Corinthians," chapter fifteen, verses forty-seven to forty-nine, Paul compares Adam to Christ.
"The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven."
... for peace in the world.
... for those who are persecuted because of their faith in Christ.
... for Isidro Baldenegro, a prominent Mexican environmentalist has been shot dead in his home state of Chihuahua after receiving death threats. For all who risk their lives campaigning to stop big business and governments harming the environment and local peoples. DETAILS
... for those who died when an avalanche enveloped the Hotel Rigopiano in the town of Farindola, Italy, last night and for all working to rescue any survivors. DETAILS
... 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 "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:
The Spirit that brings order and beauty out of chaos in the physical world seeks ever to do the same in the moral world. But to create the physical universe was easy to omnipotence; the word produced its own fulfilment. God said, "Let there be light" and there was light.
To make of the life of men a thing of ordered beauty was infinitely difficult even for omnipotence. For here were hearts to be won and wills to be inspired; no overmastering force could ever accomplish this. The task can only be wrought out by patience and anguish, by cross and passion, by agony and bloody sweat. But Love was equal to the need. The sacrifice was offered, and therein the Spirit's masterpiece was wrought.
Greater than systems of stars and planets, lovelier than buttercups and bluebells is the gracious loveliness of God in Christ the saviour. There the creator Spirit was for the first time perfectly revealed; there the response from the side of the creation was for the first time perfectly offered, as a first-fruit of the harvest yet to be garnered.
Sunsets do not rejoice in their own beauty nor forests give thanks to the Lord who made them. He rejoices in them, but they cannot share his joy. Some day, on this earth or elsewhere, there will be a human race living as one brotherhood and fellowship in the bonds of a love that unites all to the
common father and saviour and in him to one another, their whole life one act of ceaseless thanksgiving. Then will God be perfectly manifest in the moral as in the physical creation. Order and beauty will have supplanted ugliness and discord; for God, who is truth and beauty and love, will then be all in all; and the moving of the Spirit on the face of the waters will have issued in such perfection of loveliness in the world as fitly to answer the creator's love.
Almighty God, you called Fabian and Sebastian to lay down their lives in service to your son. Grant that we may never hesitate to suffer for the sake of your son, and in times of trial and persecution to remain steadfast in our faith; 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.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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