Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

WEDNESDAY THE FIRST OF FEBRUARY, 2017
* CHRISTIAN VICTIMS OF PERSECUTION *

OPENING PRAYER

Almighty God, who has taught us through your son Jesus Christ that those who follow him may be persecuted; strengthen, comfort and encourage all those who suffer harassment, violence, imprisonment and even death for being followers of Jesus. We pray for those who persecute your people; may their hearts be turned towards you through the faithful witness of those they persecute. Protect members of the families and church communities of those who are persecuted and bless the work of those who support the suffering. Through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.

CANTICLE

Salvation belongs to our God,
who will guide us to springs of living water.

Behold, a great multitude
which no one could number,
From every nation,
from all tribes and peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and the Lamb.

They were clothed in white robes
and had palms in their hands,
and they cried with a loud voice, saying,
"Salvation belongs to our God
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb."

These are they
who have come out of the great tribulation,
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb;
Therefore they stand before the throne of God,
whom they serve day and night within the temple.

And the One who sits upon the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
They shall never again feel hunger or thirst,
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb at the heart of the throne
will be their shepherd,
he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and might,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Salvation belongs to our God,
who will guide us to springs of living water.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Christian Victims of Religious Persecution: "the ecumenism of blood”

Today Saint  Laika’s remembers all Christian victims of religious persecution. It is truly sobering to realise that in the long history of the Christian church, one thread that ties us together from the first to the twenty-first century is the bright red thread of the blood of the martyrs who gave up their lives but not their faith in Jesus Christ.

At the Ecumenical Vesper Service held just two years ago at Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls Church in Rome, Pope Francis noted: “And in this moment of prayer for unity, I would like to remember our martyrs today. They give witness to Jesus Christ and are persecuted and murdered for being Christians, without any distinction of their faith by their persecutors. They are Christians and thus persecuted. This is, my brothers and sisters, the ecumenism of blood. “

Saint Stephen was the first to die because he believed that Jesus was the Messiah. As the stones began to fly, he saw heaven opened and the Jesus at the right hand of God. Just a few days ago we remembered Agnes, a little girl whose shocking death for Christ at age twelve helped bring an end to the pagan rule that murdered her. They have places on our Christian calendar and scripture readings assigned for their proper remembrance.

Martyrs today have different names. Think of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Pakistani Catholic who was the cabinet minister for minority religions in the Pakistani government, who was assassinated on the second of March, 2011. Peter To Rot from Papua, New Guinea, a lay minister was murdered by a Japanese occupation force in World War II for rejecting the practice of polygamy among his people. Manche Masemola, a sixteen year old girl from South Africa was murdered by her own parents for seeking baptism at an Anglican mission in 1928.

Yes, yes, to our shame Christians have sullied this witness by killing each other for sectarian purposes, as if Christ could ever be pleased to see his church with blood on her hands. We cannot and must not deny our own sinfulness. But today we remember those who paid with their life for the privilege of being joined to Christ.

Scripture. In the sixth chapter of the "Book of Revelation," at verses nine through eleven, John sees this vision:

"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, ‘Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’ They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow-servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for those throughout the world who risk their lives and liberty for being followers of Jesus Christ.

... for an end to all violence and oppression in the name of religion.

... for members of the Islamic faith affected by Donald Trumps edict banning their travel to the United States.

... 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.

READING

From "Letters to an Imperfect Christian" by Samuel Rutherford:

Dear Christian, do not despair because of hardship and suffering. You cannot sneak quietly into heaven without a cross. Crosses form us into Christ’s image. They cut away the pieces of our corruption. So narrow is the entry to heaven that our knots, our bunches and lumps of pride, and self-love, and idol-love, and world-love must be hammered off us, so that we may go in, stooping low and creeping through that narrow and thorny entry. Lord, cut, carve, wound us; Lord, do anything to perfect your image in us and make us fit for glory! O, I owe so much to the file, hammer, and furnace! We need winnowing before we enter the kingdom of God.

If your Lord calls you to suffering, do not be dismayed, for he will provide a deeper portion of Christ in your suffering. The softest pillow will be placed under your head though you must set your bare feet among thorns. Do not be afraid of suffering for Christ, for he has a sweet peace for a sufferer. God has called you to Christ’s side, and if the wind is now in his face, you cannot expect to rest on the sheltered side of the hill.

All the saints have their own measure of winter before their eternal summer. Our pride must have winter weather to rot it. Grace grows best in winter and withers without adversity. Therefore, whatever God lays on us, let us endure it, for some people have one cross, some seven, some ten, some half a cross, yet all the saints have whole and full joy, and seven crosses have seven joys. Trust in God. His hand will direct us safely to the heavenly shore where we will find the weight of eternal glory. I am sure that if you knew what awaits you, or if you saw some glances of it, you would swim through the present floods of sorrow with gladness, spreading forth your arms out of desire to be at land.

When we shall come home and enter to the possession of our Brother’s fair kingdom, and when our heads shall find the weight of the eternal crown of glory, and when we shall look back to pains and sufferings, then shall we see life and sorrow to be less than one stride from a prison to glory. We shall see that our little inch of time spent suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to heaven. Therefore, take heart, and press on toward the goal.

I wonder many times that ever a child of God should have a sad heart, considering what their Lord is preparing for them. Set your heart upon heaven, and trouble not your spirit with this clay idol of the world, which is but vanity and has but the lustre of the rainbow in the air, which comes and goes with a flying March shower. Our crosses would not bite upon us, if we were heavenly minded. So fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

If it were possible that heaven, or even ten heavens, were laid in the balance with Christ, I would regard even the smell of his breath better than them all. I am sure that he is the far best half of heaven. In fact, He is all heaven, and more than all heaven; and my testimony of him is that ten lives of black sorrow, ten deaths, ten hells of pain, ten furnaces of brimstone, and all intense torments, were all too little, if we could have Christ in return for our suffering. I would go through it all, if I could but gain Christ.

CLOSING PRAYER

Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth. Inspire us by their faithfulness, not to shun the way of the cross. Give us courage to bear full witness to Jesus’ victory over sin and death, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 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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