Wednesday, The Third Sunday in Lent
Perpetua and her companions
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:8, 9
Hymn: Forty days
Forty days and forty nights
thou wast fasting in the wild;
forty days and forty nights
tempted, and yet undefiled.
Should not we thy sorrow share
and from worldly joys abstain,
fasting with unceasing prayer,.
strong with thee to suffer pain?
Then if Satan on us press,
Jesus, Savior, hear our call!
Victor in the wilderness,
grant we may not faint nor fall!
So shall we have peace divine3
holier gladness ours shall be;
round us, too, shall angels shine,
such as ministered to thee.
Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
ever constant by thy side;
that with thee we may appear
at the eternal Eastertide.
Words: George Hunt Smyttan, 1856
Music: Heinlein Martin Herbst, 1676
Choir: Church of the Redeemer, Episcopal, Morristown, New Jersey
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.
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 Lord is full of compassion and mercy: Come let us adore him.
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.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy:
Come, let us adore him.
97 Oh, how I love your law!*
all the day long it is in my mind.
98 Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies,*
and it is always with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,*
for your decrees are my study.
100 I am wiser than the elders,*
because I observe your commandments.
101 I restrain my feet from every evil way,*
that I may keep your word.
102 I do not shrink from your judgments,*
because you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste!*
they are sweeter than honey to my mouth.
104 Through your commandments I gain understanding;*
therefore I hate every lying way.
Lucerna pedibus meis
105 Your word is a lantern to my feet*
and a light upon my path.
106 I have sworn and am determined*
to keep your righteous judgments.
107 I am deeply troubled;*
preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.
108 Accept, O LORD, the willing tribute of my lips,*
and teach me your judgments.
109 My life is always in my hand,*
yet I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a trap for me,*
but I have not strayed from your commandments.
111 Your decrees are my inheritance for ever;*
truly, they are the joy of my heart.
112 I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes*
for ever and to the end.
Iniquos odio habui
113 I hate those who have a divided heart,*
but your law do I love.
114 You are my refuge and shield;*
my hope is in your word.
115 Away from me, you wicked!*
I will keep the commandments of my God.
116 Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live,*
and let me not be disappointed in my hope.
117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe,*
and my delight shall be ever in your statutes.
118 You spurn all who stray from your statutes;*
their deceitfulness is in vain.
119 In your sight all the wicked of the earth are but dross;*
therefore I love your decrees.
120 My flesh trembles with dread of you;*
I am afraid of your judgments.
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.
16 When the report was heard in Pharaoh's house, "Joseph's brothers have come," Pharaoh and his servants were pleased.
17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Say to your brothers, 'Do this: load your animals and go back to the land of Canaan.
18 Take your father and your households and come to me, so that I may give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you may enjoy the fat of the land.'
19 You are further charged to say, 'Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.
20 Give no thought to your possessions, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.' "
21 The sons of Israel did so. Joseph gave them wagons according to the instruction of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey.
22 To each one of them he gave a set of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of garments.
23 To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey.
24 Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, "Do not quarrel along the way."
25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan.
26 And they told him, "Joseph is still alive! He is even ruler over all the land of Egypt." He was stunned; he could not believe them.
27 But when they told him all the words of Joseph that he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.
28 Israel said, "Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I must go and see him before I die."
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Canticle 14 A Song of Penitence
Prayer of Manasseh 1-2, 4, 6-7, 11-15
O Lord and Ruler of the hosts of heaven, *
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
and of all their righteous offspring:
You made the heavens and the earth, *
with all their vast array.
All things quake with fear at your presence; *
they tremble because of your power.
But your merciful promise is beyond all measure; *
it surpasses all that our minds can fathom.
O Lord, you are full of compassion, *
long-suffering, and abounding in mercy.
You hold back your hand; *
you do not punish as we deserve.
In your great goodness, Lord,
you have promised forgiveness to sinners,*
that they may repent of their sin and be saved.
And now, O Lord, I bend the knee of my heart, *
and make my appeal, sure of your gracious goodness.
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, *
and I know my wickedness only too well.
Therefore I make this prayer to you: *
Forgive me, Lord, forgive me.
Do not let me perish in my sin, *
nor condemn me to the depths of the earth.
For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent, *
and in me you will show forth your goodness.
Unworthy as I am, you will save me,
in accordance with your great mercy, *
and I will praise you without ceasing all the days of my life.
For all the powers of heaven sing your praises, *
and yours is the glory to ages of ages. Amen.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
1 Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge;
3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.
4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "no idol in the world really exists," and that "there is no God but one."
5 Indeed, even though there may be socalled gods in heaven or on earthas in fact there are many gods and many lords
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
8 "Food will not bring us close to God." We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols?
11 So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.
12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Canticle 16 The Song of Zechariah
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.
13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him."
15 But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old."
16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."
17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her.
18 For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not,
20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.
22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it."
23 And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom."
24 She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer."
25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.
27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison,
28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.
29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
During a persecution of Christians under the emperor Septimius Severus, a group of Christians died together in the arena at Carthage. Their final days have been recorded for us in a document that is partly in their own words, and partly in those of an anonymous narrator (sometimes thought to be Tertullian). What follow are extracts, sometimes condensed, from that document.
Vivia Perpetua was a catechumen (i.e. a convert not yet baptized), well educated and from a prosperous family, about 22 years old, married and apparently recently widowed, with a child at her breast, and with two brothers and both parents still living. (Her father was not a Christian.) Felicity (Latin: Felicitas) was a slave woman in advanced pregnancy. With them were Revocatus (also a slave), Saturninus, and Secundus.
They were arrested and placed in a dungeon, but after a few days two deacons visited the prison and by a gift of money to the jailers arranged (1) that they should have an interval in the better part of the prison to refresh themselves, and (2) that Perpetua should be allowed to keep her child with her.
Perpetua had a vision in which she saw a golden ladder, guarded by a fierce dragon, but she climbed it, stepping on the dragon's head to do so. At the top, she found herself in a green meadow, with many white-robed figures, and in their midst a shepherd, who welcomed her and gave her a morsel of cheese from the sheep-milk. She awakened and understood that their martyrdom was certain.
After a few days there was a report that we were to have a hearing in court. And my father came to me from the city, worn out with anxiety. He came up to me, that he might cast me down, saying: "Have pity, my daughter, on my grey hairs. Have pity on your father, if I am worthy to be called a father by you. If with these hands I have brought you up to this flower of your age, if I have preferred you to all your brothers, do not deliver me up to the scorn of men. Have regard to your brothers, have regard to your mother and your aunt, have regard to your son, who will not be able to live after you. Lay aside your courage, and do not bring us all to destruction; for none of us will speak in freedom if you should suffer anything."
These things said my father in his affection, kissing my hands, and throwing himself at my feet, and with tears he called me not Daughter, but Lady. And I grieved over the grey hairs of my father, that he alone of all my kindred would have no joy in my death. And I comforted him, saying, "On that scaffold, whatever God wills shall happen. For know that we are not placed in our own power but in that of God." And he departed from me in sorrow.
Perpetua had had a brother who died of cancer when he was eight years old. She prayed for him, and received assurance in a vision that all was well with him.
Her narrative continues:
After a few days, Pudens, an assistant overseer of the prison, began to hold us in high esteem, seeing that God was with us, and he admitted many of the brethren to see us, that we and they might be mutually refreshed.
Perpetua had another vision, in which she saw herself fighting against a gladiator in the arena, and winning. She understood this to signify victory over the devil.
Saturus also had a vision, which he records in his own words, in which he and the others, having died in the arena, are borne by angels into a beautiful garden, where they greet other martyrs who have gone before them, and are brought before the throne of God, surrounded by twenty-four elders (see Revelation 4), who greet them and say, "Enter into joy." Perpetua says to Saturus: "I was joyful in the flesh, and here I am more joyful still."
The narrator writes:
Now Felicitas was eight months pregnant, and the law did not allow a pregnant woman to be executed. She was accordingly fearful that her death would be postponed, and instead of dying with her fellow Christians she would be put to death later in the company of some group of criminals. She and her companions accordingly prayed, and Felicity went into labor, with the pains normal to an eight-month delivery. And a servant of the jailers said to her, "If you cry out like that now, what will you do when you are thrown to the beasts, which you despised when you refused to sacrifice?" And she replied: "Now it is I that suffer what I suffer; but then Another will be in me, who will suffer for me, because I also am about to suffer for Him." Thus she brought forth a little girl, whom a certain sister brought up as her own.
The day of their victory shone forth, and they proceeded from the prison to the amphitheater, as if to an assembly, joyous and of brilliant countenance. At the gate, the guards were going to dress them in the robes of those dedicated to Saturn and to Ceres. But that noble-minded woman [Perpetua?] said: "We are here precisely for refusing to honor your gods. By our deaths we earn the right not to wear such garments." The guards recognized the justice of her words, and let them wear their own clothing.
The men of their company were scheduled to be killed by beasts, but the wild boar turned on its keeper instead, and the bear refused to leave its cage. The leopard, however, attacked Saturus and mortally wounded him. He bade farewell to his guard, Pudens, encouraging him to obey God rather than man, and then fell unconscious.
For the young women there was prepared a fierce cow. Perpetua was first led in. She was tossed, and when she saw her tunic torn from her side, she drew it as a veil over her middle, rather mindful of her modesty than of her sufferings. Then she was called up again, and bound up her dishevelled hair, for it is not becoming for a martyr to die with dishevelled hair, which is a sign of mourning. She saw Felicity wounded, and took her hand and raised her up, and at the demand of the populace they were given a respite.
Now all the prisoners were to be slain with the sword, and they went to the center of the arena, first exchanging a farewell kiss of peace. The others died unmoving and silent, but when the awkward hand of the young executioner bungled her death-stroke, Perpetua cried out in pain, and herself guided his hand to her throat. Possibly such a woman could not have been slain unless she herself willed it, because she was feared by the impure spirit.
written by James Kiefer
O God, the King of Saints, who strengthened your servants Perpetua, Felicity, and their companions to make a good confession and encourage one another in the time of trial: Grant that we who cherish their blessed memory may be encouraged by their prayers to share their pure and steadfast faith and win with them the palm of victory; 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
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.
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.
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.
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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.
We pray for the people of Eritrea.
We pray for our sisters and brothers members of the Christ Gospel Churches International
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.
To my humble supplication
Lord, give ear and acceptation
Save thy servant, that hath none
Help nor hope but Thee alone. Amen.
Let us pray now for our own needs and those of others.
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
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.
Hymn: Forgive our sins
"Forgive our sins as we forgive,"
You taught us, Lord, to pray;
But You alone can grant us grace
To live the words we say.
How can Your pardon reach and bless
The unforgiving heart
That broods on wrongs and will not let
Old bitterness depart?
In blazing light your cross reveals
The truth we dimly knew:
How trifling others' debts to us;
How great our debt to You!
Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
And bid resentment cease;
Then, by your mercy reconciled,
Our lives will spread your peace.
Words: Rosamond E. Herklots, 1905-87, alt.
Music: A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony, Harrisonburg, 1820
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.
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.
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.
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
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.