Morning Prayer 13.2.20, Absalom Jones, 1st Black Episcopal Priest, 1818

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

From 2014: The Absalom Jones Student Center and Chapel in Atlanta, Georgia serves several historically Black colleges and universities as well as community groups and the Union of Black Episcopalians. In November they launched the Bishop Barbara C. Harris Justice Project to address environmental racism, mass incarceration and other social justice issues. Just as Fr. Jones was the first black Episcopal priest, Bishop Harris became the first woman bishop in Anglican history as Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts in 1989. (The Rev. Kimberly Jackson)

The Lord is in the holy temple; let all the earth keep silence. Habakkuk 2:20

INVITATORY AND PSALTER

Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.

Psalm 95:1-7

Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before God’s presence with thanksgiving;
and raise to the Lord a shout with psalms.
For you are a great God;
you are great above all gods.
In your hand are the caverns of the earth;
and the heights of the hills are yours also.
The sea is yours, for you made it,
and your hands have molded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee,
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For you are our God,
and we are the people of your pasture, and the sheep of your hand.
Oh, that today we would hearken to your voice!

Psalm 146

1 Hallelujah!
Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps faith for ever;
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
7 The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
8 The LORD loves the righteous
and cares for the stranger; *
the LORD sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9 The LORD shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Hallelujah!

Psalm 147

1 Hallelujah!
How good it is to sing praises to our God! *
how pleasant it is to honor the LORD with praise!
2 The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem *
and gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 The LORD heals the brokenhearted *
and binds up their wounds.
4 The LORD counts the number of the stars *
and calls them all by their names.
5 Great is our LORD and mighty in power; *
whose wisdom is beyond limit.
6 The LORD lifts up the lowly, *
but casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; *
make music to our God upon the harp.
8 God covers the heavens with clouds *
and prepares rain for the earth;
9 God makes grass to grow upon the mountains *
and green plants to serve humankind.
10 God provides food for flocks and herds *
and for the young ravens when they cry.
11 The LORD is not impressed by the might of a horse *
and has no pleasure in the strength of a man;
12 But the LORD has pleasure in the God-fearing, *
in those who await God’s gracious favor.
13 Worship the LORD, O Jerusalem; *
praise your God, O Zion;
14 For God has strengthened the bars of your gates *
and blessed your children within you.
15 God has established peace on your borders *
and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
16 God’s command is sent out to the earth, *
and the word of the LORD runs very swiftly.
17 God gives snow like wool *
and scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
18 God scatters hail like bread crumbs; *
who can stand against the cold of the LORD?
19 God’s word is sent forth and melts them; *
God’s stormwinds blow, and the waters flow.
20 God’s word is declared to Jacob, *
God’s statutes and judgments to Israel.
21 The LORD has not done so to any other nation; *
to them God’s judgments have not been revealed.
Hallelujah!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Giotto di Bondone, fresco c. 1294: Isaac Upon Esau’s Return. The story is so obviously metaphorical that no attempt is made to conceal its contradictions, as everyone pretends to be surprised about the mixup.

THE LESSONS
Genesis 27:30-45 (NRSV)

As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau came in from his hunting. He also prepared savory food, and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.” His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your firstborn son, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? – yes, and blessed he shall be!” When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, me also, father!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright; and look, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Isaac answered Esau, “I have already made him your lord, and I have given him all his brothers as servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me, me also, father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

Then his father Isaac answered him:
“See, away from the fatness of the earth shall your home be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.
By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you break loose,
you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah; so she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away – until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

Canticle: A Song of Wisdom
Wisdom 10:15-19,20b-21

Wisdom freed from a nation of oppressors *
a holy people and a blameless race.
She entered the soul of a servant of the Lord, *
withstood dread rulers with wonders and signs.
To the saints she gave the reward of their labors, *
and led them by a marvelous way;
She was their shelter by day *
and a blaze of stars by night.
She brought them across the Red Sea, *
she led them through mighty waters;
But their enemies she swallowed in the waves *
and spewed them out from the depths of the abyss.
And then, Lord, the righteous sang hymns to your Name, *
and praised with one voice your protecting hand;
For Wisdom opened the mouths of the mute, *
and gave speech to the tongues of a new-born people.

Nun at Blessed Sacrament Convent, Greenburgh, New York. (Kholood Eid/The New York Times)

Romans 12:9-21 (NRSV)

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Canticle: A Song of True Motherhood
by Julian of Norwich

God chose to be our mother in all things *
and so made the foundation of his work,
most humbly and most pure, in the Virgin’s womb.
God, the perfect wisdom of all, *
arrayed himself in this humble place.
Christ came in our poor flesh *
to share a mother’s care.
Our mothers bear us for pain and for death; *
our true mother, Jesus, bears us for joy and endless life.
Christ carried us within him in love and travail, *
until the full time of his passion.
And when all was completed and he had carried us so for joy, *
still all this could not satisfy the power of his wonderful love.
All that we owe is redeemed in truly loving God, *
for the love of Christ works in us;
Christ is the one whom we love.

Jesus in the Synagogue at Capernaum, an anonymous 11th Century fresco in Vienna. This whole controversy began when Jesus healed a man (underfoot) on the Sabbath, saying “Take up your mat and walk.” (Wikipedia)

John 8:21-32 (NRSV)

Again Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
God’s only son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

THE PRAYERS

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

V. Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
R. Govern and uphold them, now and always.
V. Day by day we bless you;
R. We praise your Name for ever.
V. Lord, keep us from all sin today;
R. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
V. Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R. For we put our trust in you.
V. In you, Lord, is our hope;
R. And we shall never hope in vain.

Raphaelle Peale, 1810: Absalom Jones. He and his friend Richard Allen led a walkout of their Philadelphia Methodist church when it tried to impose racial segregation one Sunday. They organized their own church, which became St. Thomas’s African Episcopal Church, on the condition that Mr. Jones be licensed as a layreader and eventually ordained its minister, which was accomplished by Bishop William White, the founding father of The Episcopal Church. (Delaware Art Museum)

Collect of the Day: Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818

Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Collect for Guidance

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sandy Hook Denialism Costs a Conspiracy Theorist $450,000

America’s Gun Toll
February 12, 2020
Source: Gun Violence Archive

The authors of a book claiming the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happened have been ordered to pay $450,000 to the father of 6-year-old victim Noah Pozner. James Fetzer, above, is a retired professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a purveyor of conspiracy theories about many topics. The child’s father Leonard Pozner has been one of the most outspoken parents, all of whom have faced harassment and death threats, and he has borne much of the resulting psychotorture; a Florida woman who tracked him down and left obscenity-filled hate messages was later sentenced to five months in federal prison. Twenty first- and second-graders and six teachers were killed in Newtown, Connecticut – and not one federal law was changed. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal)

Prayer: Let the Shooting End
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

God, our hearts are broken with pain at the senseless deaths caused by gun violence. Families mourn, children live in fear, and some in our nation respond by arming themselves with more guns with greater capacity to end life. Our disconnection and alienation has caused some to turn to guns for protection and safety. We ask that you touch our hearts with your love, heal our brokenness, and turn us away from violence toward peace. Help us to transform our own hearts and to seek peaceful ways of resolving our differences. Let our hands reach out and connect with those who feel alone, those who live in fear, and those suffering from mental illness. Let our voices be raised asking our legislators to enact gun laws to protect all in our society, especially those most vulnerable. Let our pens write messages demanding change while also scripting words of hope and transformation. We ask this in the name of the God who desires that we live together in peace. Amen.

Please add your own intercessions, supplications and thanksgivings here.

For the Mission of the Church

Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to yourself: We praise and bless you for those whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to preach the Gospel to all nations. We thank you that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and that in every place your servants call upon your Name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

God’s blessing be with us,
Christ’s peace be with us,
the Spirit’s outpouring be with us,
now and always. Amen.++

VIDEO: There is a fountain filled with blood (LEVAS #39, African-American spiritual; William Cowper) – Norton Hall Band, 2015

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