THURSDAY THE FIRST OF FEBRUARY 2018
* Christian Victims of Religious Persecution *
O Father, my hope;
O Son, my refuge;
O Holy Spirit, my protection;
Holy Trinity, to you be glory. Amen.
( Joannikios )
Enthroned amid the seraphim,
where countless roll the wheels of time,
celestial light, almighty power
burst forth in this afflictive hour!
Effulgent, shine upon our race;
your ancient mercies, Lord, retrace!
From superstition’s dark domain,
from persecution’s cruel reign,
when long ago a tender vine was brought,
with joys exuberantly fraught;
in regions wrapped in destiny,
it rose and bloomed, a lovely tree!
Its shade the mountains overspread;
Its root, by bubbling fountains, fed;
nor drought, nor desert, could arrest;
its branches filled the farthest west:
beside a thousand flowery banks,
its clusters swelled in glowing ranks.
Now torn and prostrate its defence,
despoiled of its magnificence,
the savage hunter treads it down;
it fades beneath a tyrant’s frown.
The sword destroys, the fire devours,
the Deity in darkness glowers!
Ah! why deserted of our God?
His vineyard, why a field of blood?
Return, O God of hosts, return!
Your ravaged, slaughtered church discern!
Behold, and victory impart!
Yours, ever yours, shall be our heart!
( "The Psalms, Newly Paraphrased for the Service of the Sanctuary" 1833 )
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 an ecumenical vesper service, held just three 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. “
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 calendars 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.
... for peace in the world.
... for those who are persecuted for being followers of Jesus Christ, especially at this time for Christians living in parts of the world dominated by Islamic extremism and fundamentalism; for the Copts of Egypt, the Christians of the ancient churches of the Middle East, Christians persecuted by their neighbours in Pakistan, Christians threatened by terrorism in Nigeria and elsewhere, and Christians harassed by the state authorities in China.
... for the mentally ill and all suffering from mental health or personality problems.
... 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.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
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. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From "Healology" by Criss Jami:
On a social level, secularism is safe. As literally the world's most fundamental conformist, the secularist wants to call himself a revolutionary all in the same. In most parts of the present world, rebellion against Christianity is not really much of a rebellion if one is to consider "rebellion" something of a courageous sort or a bold act. Long ago Christ was crucified, and in some form or another, to this day, the scorn continues for "little Christs." The world hates Christians, and according to Christ, it is supposed to hate Christians. A true Christianity is a true rebellion; and for one to be "freed from Christianity" is for one to religiously conform to the pressures of the rest of the world, for one to be freed from freedom.
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 the 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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