We have heard with our ears, O God, our forebears have told us,
all that you did in their days, in time of old;
How with your hand you drove out nations and planted us in,
and broke the power of peoples and set us free.
For not by their own sword did our ancestors take the land nor did their own arm save them,
But your right hand, your arm, and the light of your countenance,
because you were gracious to them.
You are my King and my God, who commanded salvation for Jacob.
Through you we drove back our adversaries; through your name we trod down our foes.
For I did not trust in my bow; it was not my own sword that saved me;
It was you that saved us from our enemies and put our adversaries to shame.
We gloried in God all the day long, and were ever praising your name.
But now you have rejected us and brought us to shame and go not out with our armies.
You have made us turn our backs on our enemies, and our enemies have despoiled us.
You have made us like sheep to be slaughtered, and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a pittance and made no profit on their sale.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbours, the scorn and derision of those that are round about us.
You have made us a byword among the nations; among the peoples they wag their heads.
My confusion is daily before me, and shame has covered my face,
At the taunts of the slanderer and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and avenger.
All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you and have not played false to your covenant.
Our hearts have not turned back, nor our steps gone out of your way,
Yet you have crushed us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to any strange god,
Will not God search it out?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
But for your sake are we killed all the day long, and are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord?
Awake, and do not reject us for ever.
Why do you hide your face and forget our grief and oppression?
Our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly cleaves to the earth.
Rise up, O Lord, to help us and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’
So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
God our Father,
whose Son enjoyed the love of his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus,
in learning, argument and hospitality:
may we so rejoice in your love that the world may come to know
the depths of your wisdom, the wonder of your compassion,
and your power to bring life out of death;
through the merits of Jesus Christ, our friend and brother,
who is alive and reigns with you,Nin the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.