Morning Prayer - 18 June 2015
Bernard Mizeki, Apostle of the MaShona, Martyr, 1896
Have mercy on me, O God, for they trample over me; all day long they assault and oppress me. My adversaries trample over me all the day long; many are they that make proud war against me. In the day of my fear I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise.In God I trust, and will not fear, for what can flesh do to me? All day long they wound me with words; their every thought is to do me evil. They stir up trouble; they lie in wait; marking my steps, they seek my life. Shall they escape for all their wickedness? In anger, O God, cast the peoples down.
You have counted up my groaning; put my tears into your bottle; are they not written in your book?
Then shall my enemies turn back on the day when I call upon you; this I know, for God is on my side. In God whose word I praise, in the Lord whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not fear: what can flesh do to me?
To you, O God, will I fulfil my vows; to you will I present my offerings of thanks, For you will deliver my soul from death and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; In the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until the storm of destruction has passed by. I will call upon the Most High God, the God who fulfils his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me and rebuke those that would trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.
I lie in the midst of lions, people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.
They have laid a net for my feet; my soul is pressed down; they have dug a pit before me and will fall into it themselves. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise. Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn.
I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul is athirst for you. My flesh also faints for you, as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So would I gaze upon you in your holy place, that I might behold your power and your glory.
Your loving-kindness is better than life itself and so my lips shall praise you. I will bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your name. My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips, When I remember you upon my bed and meditate on you in the watches of the night. For you have been my helper and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.
My soul clings to you; your right hand shall hold me fast. But those who seek my soul to destroy it shall go down to the depths of the earth; Let them fall by the edge of the sword and become a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all those who swear by him shall be glad, for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.
And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to King Artaxerxes of Persia; the letter was written in Aramaic and translated. Rehum the royal deputy and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows (then Rehum the royal deputy, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the envoys, the officials, the Persians, the people of Erech, the Babylonians, the people of Susa, that is, the Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River wrote—and now this is a copy of the letter that they sent):
‘To King Artaxerxes: Your servants, the people of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now may it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city; they are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. Now may it be known to the king that, if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be reduced. Now because we share the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonour, therefore we send and inform the king, so that a search may be made in the annals of your ancestors. You will discover in the annals that this is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from long ago. On that account this city was laid waste. We make known to the king that, if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.’
The king sent an answer: ‘To Rehum the royal deputy and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now the letter that you sent to us has been read in translation before me. So I made a decree, and someone searched and discovered that this city has risen against kings from long ago, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. Jerusalem has had mighty kings who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid. Therefore issue an order that these people be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until I make a decree. Moreover, take care not to be slack in this matter; why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?’
Then when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and the scribe Shimshai and their associates, they hurried to the Jews in Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. At that time the work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped and was discontinued until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.
The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for
‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’
Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
‘I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.’
Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’
But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’
Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son 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.