Agnes, Child Martyr at Rome, 304
Fourth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
I will exalt you, O God my King, and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless you and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; his greatness is beyond all searching out.
One generation shall praise your works to another and declare your mighty acts.
They shall speak of the majesty of your glory, and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts, and I will also tell of your greatness.
They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, long-suffering and of great goodness.
The Lord is loving to everyone and his mercy is over all his creatures.
All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your mighty power,
To make known to all peoples your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.
The Lord is sure in all his words and faithful in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand and fill all things living with plenty.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving in all his works.
The Lord is near to those who call upon him, to all who call upon him faithfully.
He fulfils the desire of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over those who love him, but all the wicked shall he destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.
Praise the Lord, O my soul:
while I live will I praise the Lord;
as long as I have any being, I will sing praises to my God.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in any human power, for there is no help in them.
When their breath goes forth, they return to the earth; on that day all their thoughts perish.
Happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong and bread to those who hunger.
The Lord looses those that are bound;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land;
he upholds the orphan and widow;
but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.
The Lord shall reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria, the notables of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel resorts!
Cross over to Calneh, and see; from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is your territory greater than their territory, O you that put far away the evil day, and bring near a reign of violence?
Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall; who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
The Lord God has sworn by himself (says the Lord, the God of hosts):
I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds; and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.
If ten people remain in one house, they shall die. And if a relative, one who burns the dead, shall take up the body to bring it out of the house, and shall say to someone in the innermost parts of the house, ‘Is anyone else with you?’ the answer will come, ‘No.’
Then the relative shall say, ‘Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.’
See, the Lord commands, and the great house shall be shattered to bits, and the little house to pieces.
Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plough the sea with oxen?
But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood - you who rejoice in Lo-debar, who say, ‘Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves?’
Indeed, I am raising up against you a nation, O house of Israel, says the Lord, the God of hosts,
and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi Arabah.
1 Corinthians 6.1-11
When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints?
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?
And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels - to say nothing of ordinary matters?
If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?
I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, but a believer goes to court against a believer - and before unbelievers at that? In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that.
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers - none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Eternal God, shepherd of your sheep,
whose child Agnes was strengthened to bear witness in her living and her dying to the true love of her redeemer:
grant us the power to understand, with all your saints,
what is the breadth and length and height and depth
and to know the love that surpasses knowledge,
even Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.