The Seven Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood, Solomon Islands, 2003
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his steadfast love endures for ever. Let the
those he redeemed from the hand of the enemy, And gathered out of the lands from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Some went astray in desert wastes and found no path to a city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul was fainting within them. So they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress. He set their feet on the right way till they came to a city to dwell in. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children. For he satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good.
Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound fast in misery and iron, For they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed down their heart with heaviness; they stumbled and there was none to help them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and out of the shadow of death, and broke their bonds asunder. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children. For he has broken the doors of bronze and breaks the bars of iron in pieces.
Some were foolish and took a rebellious way, and were plagued because of their wrongdoing. Their soul abhorred all manner of food and drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them, and saved them from destruction. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children. Let them offer him sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his acts with shouts of joy. Those who go down to the sea in ships and ply their trade in great waters, These have seen the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep. For at his word the stormy wind arose and lifted up the waves of the sea. They were carried up to the heavens and down again to the deep; their soul melted away in their peril. They reeled and staggered like a drunkard and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were calmed. Then were they glad because they were at rest, and he brought them to the haven they desired. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children. Let them exalt him in the congregation of the people and praise him in the council of the elders. The Lord turns rivers into wilderness and water springs into thirsty ground; A fruitful land he makes a salty waste, because of the wickedness of those who dwell there. He makes the wilderness a pool of water and water springs out of a thirsty land. There he settles the hungry and they build a city to dwell in. They sow fields and plant vineyards and bring in a fruitful harvest. He blesses them, so that they multiply greatly; he does not let their herds of cattle decrease. He pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes. They are diminished and brought low, through stress of misfortune and sorrow, But he raises the poor from their misery and multiplies their families like flocks of sheep. The upright will see this and rejoice, but all wickedness will shut its mouth.
Whoever is wise will ponder these things and consider the loving-kindness of the Lord.
If you heed these ordinances, by diligently observing them, the Lord your God will maintain with you the covenant loyalty that he swore to your ancestors; he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock, in the land that he swore to your ancestors to give you. You shall be the most blessed of peoples, with neither sterility nor barrenness among you or your livestock. The Lord will turn away from you every illness; all the dread diseases of Egypt that you experienced, he will not inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you. You shall devour all the peoples that the Lord your God is giving over to you, showing them no pity; you shall not serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.
If you say to yourself, ‘These nations are more numerous than I; how can I dispossess them?’ do not be afraid of them. Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, the Lord your God will send the pestilence against them, until even the survivors and the fugitives are destroyed. Have no dread of them, for the Lord your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God. The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to make a quick end of them, otherwise the wild animals would become too numerous for you. But the Lord your God will give them over to you, and throw them into great panic, until they are destroyed. He will hand their kings over to you and you shall blot out their name from under heaven; no one will be able to stand against you, until you have destroyed them. The images of their gods you shall burn with fire. Do not covet the silver or the gold that is on them and take it for yourself, because you could be ensnared by it; for it is abhorrent to the Lord your God. Do not bring an abhorrent thing into your house, or you will be set apart for destruction like it. You must utterly detest and abhor it, for it is set apart for destruction.
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.
Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through 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.