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The Opening

The Psalms

The Lessons

The Commemoration

The Creed

The Prayers

The Ending

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Wednesday
Morning Prayer, Advent 1
Nicholas of Myra

The Opening

Opening Sentence

Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3

Awake, awake to love and work!

Awake, awake to love and work!
The lark is in the sky;
The fields are wet with diamond dew;
The worlds awake to cry
Their blessings on the Lord of life,
As He goes meekly by.

Come, let thy voice be one with theirs,
Shout with their shout of praise;
See how the giant sun soars up,
Great lord of years and days!
So let the love of Jesus come
And set thy soul ablaze.

To give and give, and give again,
What God hath given thee;
To spend thyself nor count the cost;
To serve right gloriously
The God Who gave all worlds that are,
And all that are to be.

Confession

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

Versicle and Response

Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
The mercy of the Lord is everlasting: Come let us adore him.

Invitatory Psalm

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God;
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Antiphon

The mercy of the Lord is everlasting:
Come let us adore him.

The Psalms

Psalm 119:1-24 or
Coverdale

Aleph Beati immaculati

1Happy are they whose way is blameless, *
who walk in the law of the LORD!

2Happy are they who observe his decrees *
and seek him with all their hearts!

3Who never do any wrong, *
but always walk in his ways.

4You laid down your commandments, *
that we should fully keep them.

5Oh, that my ways were made so direct *
that I might keep your statutes!

6Then I should not be put to shame, *
when I regard all your commandments.

7I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, *
when I have learned your righteous judgments.

8I will keep your statutes; *
do not utterly forsake me.

Beth In quo corrigit?

9How shall a young man cleanse his way? *
By keeping to your words.

10With my whole heart I seek you; *
let me not stray from your commandments.

11I treasure your promise in my heart, *
that I may not sin against you.

12Blessed are you, O LORD; *
instruct me in your statutes.

13With my lips will I recite *
all the judgments of your mouth.

14I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees *
than in all manner of riches.

15I will meditate on your commandments *
and give attention to your ways.

16My delight is in your statutes; *
I will not forget your word.

Gimel Retribue servo tuo

17Deal bountifully with your servant, *
that I may live and keep your word.

18Open my eyes, that I may see *
the wonders of your law.

19I am a stranger here on earth; *
do not hide your commandments from me.

20My soul is consumed at all times *
with longing for your judgments.

21You have rebuked the insolent; *
cursed are they who stray from your commandments!

22Turn from me shame and rebuke, *
for I have kept your decrees.

23Even though rulers sit and plot against me, *
I will meditate on your statutes.

24For your decrees are my delight, *
and they are my counselors.

Gloria Patri

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen. Amen.

The Lessons

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 3:12-4:5

12Thus says the LORD: As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who live in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed. 13Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob, says the Lord GOD, the God of hosts: 14On the day I punish Israel for its transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. 15I will tear down the winter house as well as the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end, says the LORD.

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on Mount Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands, "Bring something to drink!" 2The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness: The time is surely coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. 3Through breaches in the wall you shall leave, each one straight ahead; and you shall be flung out into Harmon, says the LORD. 4Come to Bethel-and transgress; to Gilgal-and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; 5bring a thank-offering of leavened bread, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel! says the Lord GOD.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Canticle 11 The Third Song of Isaiah
Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19
Surge, illuminare

Arise, shine, for your light has come,*
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

For behold, darkness covers the land;*
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.

But over you the Lord will rise,*
and his glory will appear upon you.

Nations will stream to your light,*
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.

Your gates will always be open;*
by day or night they will never be shut.

They will call you, The City of the Lord,*
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Violence will no more be heard in your land,*
ruin or destruction within your borders.

You will call your walls, Salvation,*
and all your portals, Praise.

The sun will no more be your light by day;*
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.

The Lord will be your everlasting light,*
and your God will be your glory.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The New Testament Lesson

2 Peter 3:1-10

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you 2that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles.

3 First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts 4and saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!' 5They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, 6through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.

8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Canticle 16 The Song of Zechariah Luke 1:68-79
Benedictus Dominus Deus

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;*
he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty savior,*
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,

that he would save us from our enemies,*
from the hands of all who hate us.

he promised to show mercy to our fathers*
and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,*
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,*
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,*
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

To give his people knowledge of salvation*
by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God*
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,*
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Gospel

Matthew 21:23-32

23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, 'By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?' 24Jesus said to them, 'I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?' And they argued with one another, 'If we say, "From heaven," he will say to us, "Why then did you not believe him?" 26But if we say, "Of human origin," we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.' 27So they answered Jesus, 'We do not know.' And he said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28 'What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today." 29He answered, "I will not"; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, "I go, sir"; but he did not go 31Which of the two did the will of his father?' They said, 'The first.' Jesus said to them, 'Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The Commemoration

The story of St. Nicholas offers a possible way of dealing with the "Santa Claus" problem, to parents who do not want to lie to their children, even in fun, but do not want to say simply: "Bah, humbug! There is no such thing as Santa. Forget about him."

Nicholas was a native of the western part of what is now Asiatic Turkey. He became Bishop of Myra in the fourth century, and there are many stories of his love for God and for his neighbor.

The best-known story involves a man with three unmarried daughters, and not enough money to provide them with suitable dowries. This meant that they could not marry, and were likely to end up as prostitutes. Nicholas walked by the man's house on three successive nights, and each time threw a bag of gold in through a window (or, when the story came to be told in colder climates, down the chimney). Thus, the daughters were saved from a life of shame, and all got married and lived happily ever after.

Because of this and similar stories, Nicholas became a symbol of anonymous gift-giving. Hence, if we give a gift to someone today without saying whom it is from, it can be called "a present from Saint Nicholas (or Santa Claus)." Some parents explain this to their children and invite the child to join them in wrapping a toy (either something purchased for that purpose, at least partly with the child's allowance, or else a toy that the child has outgrown but that is still serviceable) or an outgrown but not shabby item of the child's clothing, or a package of food, and then going along to donate it to a suitable shelter that will give it to someone who will welcome it. This gift is then called "a present from Santa," so that the child understands that this is another name for an anonymous gift given to someone whom we do not know, but whom we love anyway because God does. (Presents within the family can be "From Santa" or "From Santa and...")

Pictures of Nicholas often show three bags of gold next to him, and often these bags have become simply three disks or balls. Nicholas became the patron of an Italian city (I think Bari, which is where his body is now buried) that was a center of the pawnbroking business, and hence a pawnbroking shop traditionally advertises by displaying three gold balls over its front. It is thought that some persons looking at pictures of Nicholas confused the three round objects with human heads. Hence there is a story of a wicked innkeeper who murdered three boys and salted their bodies to serve to his guests, to save on the butcher's bill. Nicholas visited the inn and confronted the innkeeper, who confessed his crime, whereupon Nicholas prayed over the brine-tub and the three boys leaped out unharmed. Other stories have him saving the lives of three innocent men who had been condemned to death. Still other stories have him coming to the rescue of drowning sailors (could this be related to the brine-tub incident?). Nicholas has always been popular with children, mariners, pawnbrokers, the Dutch, the Russians, and recently, the department-store owners. (American readers may remember the story of the brine-tub through reading it as children in the book The Dutch Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins, author of The Spanish Twins, The Italian Twins, and many similar books, all children's favorites in the middle of this century. They may now be banned as politically incorrect -- I have no idea. If your children know the brine-tub story, from this book or elsewhere, they may be interested to know how it may have originated.)

In many countries, Nicholas visits children on his feast day, 6 December, and brings them gifts then. In these countries, there is usually no exchange of Christmas presents, but there may be gifts again on January 6, the feast of the coming of the Wise Men, who brought gifts to the Holy Child of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In America, it may be thought necessary to yield to outside pressure and let Nicholas distribute gifts on December 25.

If you want to show your children (or yourself) how Nicholas is remembered by Christians with a background different from your own (unless, of course, this IS your background), you might want to attend an East Orthodox service at this time. Many Eastern Orthodox congregations have services on the evening before 6 December that feature "visits from Saint Nicholas." He appears as a bishop, with no red suit. The faithful leave their shoes outside the church door, and find in them afterwards gold coins (actually chocolate wrapped in gold foil) representing the gold dowries of the three daughters. To find a service and inquire what it is likely to be like, look up CHURCHES, ORTHODOX in the Yellow Pages. For an English-language service, "Orthodox Church in America" or "Antiochan Orthodox" parishes are likely choices, but do not overlook other possibilities.

We are told, but it is uncertain, that Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith before the accession of Constantine, and that he was present at the Council of Nicea in 325. We may note in passing that the picture of him as roly-poly is a late development. Early stories indicate that he was generous to others, but not given to self-indulgence. Indeed, even as an unweaned infant, he fasted regularly on Wednesdays and Fridays.

written by James Kiefer

Prayer

Almighty God, who in your love gave to your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Alternate Psalm and Readings

Psalm 145:8-13
Proverbs 19:17, 20-23
1 John 4:7-14
Mark 10:13-16

The Creed

The Apostle's Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Prayers

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.

Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Suffrages

Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;

Govern and uphold them, now and always.

Day by day we bless you;

We praise your name for ever.

Lord, keep us from all sin today;

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.

Lord, show us your love and mercy;

For we put our trust in you.

In you, Lord, is our hope;

And we shall never hope in vain.

Collect of the Day: The First Sunday of Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

For Mission

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

World Cycle of Prayer

We pray for the people of Chad

Ecumenical Cycle of Prayer

We pray for our sisters and brothers members of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba

A Collect for Peace

Most holy God, the source of all good desires, all right judgments, and all just works: Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, so that our minds may be fixed on the doing of your will, and that we, being delivered from the fear of all enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through the mercies of Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen.

Hymn: To my humble supplication

To my humble supplication
Lord, give ear and acceptation
Save thy servant, that hath none
Help nor hope but Thee alone. Amen.

Prayers and Intercessions

Let us pray now for our own needs and those of others.

Birthdays
Anniversaries
For Recovery from Sickness
For Travelers
For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement
For Those to be Baptized
For the Departed
Full list of prayers

For Peace

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

For our Country

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion us into one united people. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the President of the
United States
and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or, Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

A voice says 'cry out'

A voice says 'cry out'
All men are like grass
And their time of glory
Soon shall pass
But the word of God
It will never die
Surely it will stand
For eternity

Every ditch and valley shall be raised up
Every hill and mountain be made low
Every rugged place will be made flat
Everybody shall see the glory of the Lord

[Interlude]

You who bring good news
Raise your voice and shout
Do not be afraid
To speak the name of God
The hard days are gone
The debt has been paid
And the time has come
To walk the righteous way

Every ditch and valley shall be raised up
Every hill and mountain be made low
Every rugged place will be made flat
Everybody shall see the glory of the Lord

[Interlude]

A voice says 'cry out'
All men are like grass
And their time of glory
Soon shall pass
But the word of God
It will never die
Surely it will stand
For eternity

Every ditch and valley shall be raised up
Every hill and mountain be made low
Every rugged place will be made flat
Everybody shall see the glory of the Lord
Everybody shall see the glory of the Lord

Singers: Ordinary Time | Words: Peter La Grand

A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

The Ending

Benediction

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20,21

Hymn: God Be With You

God be with you till we meet again;
By his counsels guide, uphold you;
With his sheep securely fold you.
God be with you till we meet again.
Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus' feet,
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

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