2 February
Morning Prayer
The Fourth Sunday in Epiphany
The Presentation in the Temple

Opening Sentence

Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:3

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.
Alleluia. The Lord has shown forth his glory: Come let us adore him. Alleluia.

Invitatory Psalm

Come let us sing to the Lord;*
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving*
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God,*
and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the caverns of the earth,*
and the heights of the hills are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it,*
and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee,*
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.*
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

Antiphon

Alleluia. The Lord has shown forth his glory: Come let us adore him. Alleluia.

Psalms

Psalm 42
or Coverdale

1 As the deer longs for the water-brooks, *
so longs my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; *
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, *
while all day long they say to me,
"Where now is your God?"
4 I pour out my soul when I think on these things; *
how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God,
5 With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, *
among those who keep holy-day.
6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
and why are you so disquieted within me?
7 Put your trust in God; *
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
8 My soul is heavy within me; *
therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan,
and from the peak of Mizar among the heights of Hermon.
9 One deep calls to another in the noise of your cataracts; *
all your rapids and floods have gone over me.
10 The LORD grants his loving-kindness in the daytime; *
in the night season his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
11 I will say to the God of my strength,
"Why have you forgotten me? *
and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?"
12 While my bones are being broken, *
my enemies mock me to my face;
13 All day long they mock me *
and say to me, "Where now is your God?"
14 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
and why are you so disquieted within me?
15 Put your trust in God; *
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Psalms

Psalm 43
or Coverdale

1 Give judgment for me, O God,
and defend my cause against an ungodly people; *
deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.
2 For you are the God of my strength;
why have you put me from you? *
and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?
3 Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, *
and bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling;
4 That I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness; *
and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.
5 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
and why are you so disquieted within me?
6 Put your trust in God; *
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Gloria Patri

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Reading

1 Samuel 2:1-10

1 Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. 2 "There is no Holy One like the LORD, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. 5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them he has set the world. 9 "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. 10 The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed."

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Canticle 20 Glory to God
Gloria in excelsis

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Reading

John 8:31-36

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ 33They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

34 Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Canticle 21 You are God
Te Deum laudamus

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord; we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin's womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

Commemoration

Presentatio of Jesus in the Temple

The Presentation in the Temple/Candlemas Day

Counting forward from December 25 as Day One, we find that Day Forty is February 2. A Jewish woman is in semi-seclusion for 40 days after giving birth to a son, and accordingly it is on February 2 that we celebrate the coming of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus to the Temple at Jerusalem to offer sacrifice, both on behalf of Mary and on behalf of Jesus as a first-born male. As they did so, they were greeted by the aged Simeon.

In a Sunday-School pageant, I once saw, the narrator said, "And now Simeon bursts into a spontaneous song of praise, assisted by the Temple Choir." His song, called the Nunc Dimittis, has always had a prominent role in Christian worship. It has often been rendered in verse. I append one example.

Lord God, thou now hast set thy servant free,
to part in peace according to thy word.
Mine eyes have seen the Saviour, Christ the Lord
prepared by thee for all the worlds to see;
to shine on nations lost in darkest night,
the glory of thy people, and their light.

The versification is by Rae E. Whitney, found in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982.

Because an old reading for this festival contains the line (Zephaniah 1:12), "I will search Jerusalem with candles," the day is also known as Candlemas, and sometimes observed with a candle-lit procession.

On the other hand, Groundhog Day ("If the groundhog (or woodchuck, a kind of marmot, which burrows and hibernates) sees his shadow on 2 February, there will be six more weeks of winter.") is strictly a secular holiday, confined, as far as I know, to the United States.

written by James Kiefer


Marianne Stokes/Candlemas Day

Candlemas Day

First, some history

By the seventh century it had become the custom to begin the worship service on February 2 with candlelighting by the congregation gathered outside the worship area followed by a procession into the Church with all carrying their lighted candles. This was to relive Simeon's experience of meeting the "light of nations" at the temple. The pastor Sophronius wrote in that century

Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.

Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the one who came to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ. So let us hasten to meet our God.

The custom of beginning the worship on this festival with a candlelight procession is the origin of the day's other name, "Candlemas."

The festival day's position at midwinter—exactly midway between the winter solstice December 21 or 22 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere. and the spring equinox the day when daylight lasts for exactly 12 hours—caused it to be a time for taking inventory of one's winter supplies. One English poem goes:

The provident farmer on Candlemas Day,
Hath half of his fires and half of his hay.

The day's emphasis on light and life at midwinter gave rise to many superstitions and legends. Some believed that "if the day be clear and sunshiny, it portends a hard weather to come; if cloudy and lowing, mild and gentle season ensuing." From that piece of weather folklore it is not too difficult to understand how our Pennsylvania Dutch descendants of Germanic peoples who emigrated to the United States (primarily to Pennsylvania), from Germany, Switzerland and The Low Countries prior to 1800 legend of Groundhog Day began.

By the seventeenth century the Presentation of Our Lord was understood to be the absolute end of the Christmas season. Indeed, Ash Wednesday the first day in the season of Lent can follow as early as just two days later on February 4. As the end of the Christmas festivities, it was the day to complete the removal of all the holiday decorations. This, too, became the cause of superstition:

Down with Rosemary, and so
Down with Bays and Mistletoe;
Down with Holly, Ivy, all
Where with ye drest the Christmas Hall;
That to the superstitious find
Not one least Branch there left behind
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.

(sheet music and links to audio)

Second, a meditation

The change has been slow, yet unrelenting. Since the winter solstice, the sun's setting has daily delayed, if even by one minute, so that journeys and chores once completed in darkness now are accompanied by brilliant twilight.

Yet, even as this change in evening's day length has been progressing, mornings remain as dark and foreboding as they had a month before. Morning journeys and chores are still completed in darkness. The morning darkness has been unrelenting and slow to change.

But just at the time you receive this newsletter, the mornings too will brighten. With increasing rapidity the sunrise will advance, first by five minutes each week, then nearly by ten. The lengthening of the daylight at morning and night will become obvious.

Because the lengthening of the morning light first becomes obvious around the beginning of February, it is very probable that this helped inspire the tradition of candlelighting that begins the festival of the Presentation of Our Lord on February 2. Surely the brightening of the morning sky would add cheer to the day when the faithful—like the Biblical Simeon—hail Jesus as "the light of all nations and the glory of Israel" (Luke 2:32). As the great hymnwriter Charles Wesley has declared:

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ the true and only light,
Sun of righteousness, arise,
Triumph o'er the shades of night.
Dayspring from on high, be near,
Daystar, in my heart appear.

This annual return of morning light and lengthening of the daylight in the Northern Hemisphere certainly influenced our forbearers in the faith as they developed the cycle of feasts and fasts that we know as the Church year. Indeed, the season of preparation for the Paschal (of or relating to Passover or Easter Feast of Easter)—Lent—derives its name from lengthen, a reference to the lengthening of the daylight.

There is a terrible irony that just as astronomical days grow longer we are very starkly and visibly reminded that our anatomical days grow shorter. As the first buds begin to swell and the first hints of green plants appear our brows are smudged with the residue of lifeless plants and we are told that truth that we would like to deny and yet can never defy: "Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return." That change back to the dust of the earth from which we were made is also one that is slow, yet unrelenting.

It is this inevitability that gives Lent and its disciplines such urgency. Knowing not when shall be our last day or hour, we hear all the more sharply the words of St. Paul addressed to the congregation at Corinth:

We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As we work together with him, we urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, "At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you." See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:2

The Apostle pleads for his people not to delay in repenting of their sins or in redirecting their lives. The day of salvation may be at hand at any time.

And when it is at hand, will we greet it with the joy and faith that inspired Simeon of old to take the forty-day old Christ child, the "light of nations" in his arms and bless God because now, as it had been promised to him, he could die in peace?

For we know that without Christ, the day of the Lord brings darkness and no light. Again, to quote Wesley's hymn:

Dark and cheerless is the morn,
Unaccompanied by thee,
Joyless is the day's return,
Till thy mercy's beams I see,
Till they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

So it is then, that we should anticipate the lengthening of the daylight and the shortening of our days with the Lenten disciplines of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving to encourage that gift of heart-warming grace. And so it is that we should greet the lengthening of the daylight and the shortening of our days with the final verse of Wesley's hymn:

Visit then, this soul of mine.
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, radiancy divine,
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.

So may we pray. So may we fast. So may we give alms. So may we change slowly and unrelentingly .

I hope that this can be of inspiration to you and others.

by the Rev. J. Thomas Shelley, STS

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 Lord's Prayer
or traditional

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

Show us your mercy, O Lord;

And grant us your salvation.

Clothe your ministers with righteousness;

Let your people sing with joy.

Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;

For only in you can we live in safety.

Lord, keep this nation under your care;

And guide us in the way of justice and truth.

Let your way be known upon earth;

Your saving health among all nations.

Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;

Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Create in us clean hearts, O God;

And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

Collect of the Day: The Presentation in the Temple

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your Only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; 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 Czech Republic.

Ecumenical Cycle of Prayer

We pray for our sisters and brothers members of the Church of the Province of Myanmar .

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

A Collect for Sundays

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

For the Church

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

For Church Musicians and Artists

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Families

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who places solitary persons in families: We commend to your continual care the homes in which your people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech you, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, and godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in marriage, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer of Self-Dedication

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 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.

Benediction

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Romans 15:13