Julian of Norwich, c.1417
If the Lord himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say;
If the Lord had not been on our side, when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us alive when their anger burned against us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over our soul; over our soul would have swept the raging waters.
But blessed be the Lord who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken and we are delivered.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who has made heaven and earth.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever. As the hills stand about Jerusalem, so the Lord stands round about his people, from this time forth for evermore. The sceptre of wickedness shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous turn their hands to evil.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are true of heart. Those who turn aside to crooked ways the Lord shall take away with the evildoers; but let there be peace upon Israel.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with songs of joy.
Then said they among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has indeed done great things for us, and therefore we rejoiced.
Restore again our fortunes, O Lord, as the river beds of the desert.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed, will come back with shouts of joy, bearing their sheaves with them.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord keeps the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you hasten to rise up early and go so late to rest, eating the bread of toil, for he gives his beloved sleep.
Children are a heritage from the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his gift. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy are those who have their quiver full of them: they shall not be put to shame when they dispute with their enemies in the gate.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to take the censers out of the blaze; then scatter the fire far and wide. For the censers of these sinners have become holy at the cost of their lives. Make them into hammered plates as a covering for the altar, for they presented them before the Lord and they became holy. Thus they shall be a sign to the Israelites. So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers that had been presented by those who were burned; and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar—a reminder to the Israelites that no outsider, who is not of the descendants of Aaron, shall approach to offer incense before the Lord, so as not to become like Korah and his company—just as the Lord had said to him through Moses.
On the next day, however, the whole congregation of the Israelites rebelled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, ‘You have killed the people of the Lord.’ And when the congregation had assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned towards the tent of meeting; the cloud had covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Get away from this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment.’ And they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take your censer, put fire on it from the altar and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them. For wrath has gone out from the Lord; the plague has begun.’ So Aaron took it as Moses had ordered, and ran into the middle of the assembly, where the plague had already begun among the people. He put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped. Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. When the plague was stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
He also told them a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.
‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
‘Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.’
Most holy God, the ground of our beseeching, who through your servant Julian revealed the wonders of your love: grant that as we are created in your nature and restored by your grace, our wills may be so made one with yours that we may come to see you face to face and gaze on you for ever; 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.