First Deaconess of the Church of England
Founder of the Community of St Andrew, 1883
O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you. Let my prayer come into your presence; incline your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles; my life draws near to the land of death. I am counted as one gone down to the Pit; I am like one that has no strength, Lost among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.
You have laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness in the abyss. Your anger lies heavy upon me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves. You have put my friends far from me and made me to be abhorred by them. I am so fast in prison that I cannot get free; my eyes fail from all my trouble.
Lord, I have called daily upon you; I have stretched out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead? Will the shades stand up and praise you?
Shall your loving-kindness be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Shall your wonders be known in the dark or your righteous deeds in the land where all is forgotten?
But as for me, O Lord, I will cry to you; early in the morning my prayer shall come before you.
Lord, why have you rejected my soul? Why have you hidden your face from me?
I have been wretched and at the point of death from my youth; I suffer your terrors and am no more seen. Your wrath sweeps over me; your horrors are come to destroy me; All day long they come about me like water; they close me in on every side. Lover and friend have you put far from me and hid my companions out of my sight.
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and be glad in him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, on that day at Massah in the wilderness,
‘When your forebears tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my works.
‘Forty years long I detested that generation and said,
“This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways.”
‘So I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter into my rest.” ’
There was a man in the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. He said to his mother, ‘The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and even spoke it in my hearing—that silver is in my possession; I took it; but now I will return it to you.’ And his mother said, ‘May my son be blessed by the Lord!’ Then he returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother said, ‘I consecrate the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make an idol of cast metal.’ So when he returned the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into an idol of cast metal; and it was in the house of Micah. This man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.
Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the clan of Judah. He was a Levite residing there. This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah, to live wherever he could find a place. He came to the house of Micah in the hill country of Ephraim to carry on his work. Micah said to him, ‘From where do you come?’ He replied, ‘I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to live wherever I can find a place.’ Then Micah said to him, ‘Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a set of clothes, and your living.’ The Levite agreed to stay with the man; and the young man became to him like one of his sons. So Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.’
He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.