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  • Writer's pictureFr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

Morning Prayer & Sermon for Hurricane Matthew - XXI Pentecost (Proper 23C)

Morning Prayer

XXI Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 23C)

October 9, 2016


I am posting this worship service and sermon online because we at St. Matthew's Church in Savannah are unable to gather together in person this week. Hurricane Matthew has inflicted significant damage on our city. Most of us followed the City's recommendation to evacuate Savannah and are spending this weekend in another part of the country. Those who remain in Savannah are likely without power and utilities, and are advised to remain indoors.

I offer the service to you in this format specifically for those who cannot safely leave their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew but still want to take some time with God on this Sunday morning. Morning Prayer is a daily worship service from the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer. It may be said together in church or by individuals and families. You do not need a clergy person present to say these prayers. Page numbers from the book are listed in parentheses after each section heading using the abbreviation “BCP."

May God protect you in the storm, heal you of your afflictions, and comfort all who mourn. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Arboleda

Opening Sentence (BCP, p. 78)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

The Confession (BCP, p. 79)

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

Invitatory (BCP, p. 80)

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.

Venite (Psalm 95:1-7) (BCP, p. 82)

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:

Come let us adore him.

Come, let us sing to the Lord; *

let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *

and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, *

and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *

and the heights of the hills are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it, *

and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *

and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *

Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:

Come let us adore him.

Psalm 66:1-11 (BCP, p. 673)

1 Be joyful in God, all you lands; *

sing the glory of his Name;

sing the glory of his praise.

2 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! *

because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.

3 All the earth bows down before you, *

sings to you, sings out your Name."

4 Come now and see the works of God, *

how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

5 He turned the sea into dry land,

so that they went through the water on foot, *

and there we rejoiced in him.

6 In his might he rules for ever;

his eyes keep watch over the nations; *

let no rebel rise up against him.

7 Bless our God, you peoples; *

make the voice of his praise to be heard;

8 Who holds our souls in life, *

and will not allow our feet to slip.

9 For you, O God, have proved us; *

you have tried us just as silver is tried.

10 You brought us into the snare; *

you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.

11 You let enemies ride over our heads;

we went through fire and water; *

but you brought us out into a place of refreshment.

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.

A Reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (29:1, 4-7)

These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Canticle 16: The Song of Zechariah (BCP, p. 92)

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *

he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *

born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old,

that he would save us from our enemies, *

from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers *

and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear, *

holy and righteous in his sight

all the days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

To give his people knowledge of salvation *

by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God *

the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the

shadow of death, *

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

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.

A Reading from the Second Letter of St. Paul to St. Timothy (2:8-15)

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David-- that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

if we endure, we will also reign with him;

if we deny him, he will also deny us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful--

for he cannot deny himself.

Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Canticle 21: You Are God (BCP, p. 95)

You are God: we praise you;

You are the Lord; we acclaim you;

You are the eternal Father:

All creation worships you.

To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,

Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you.

The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.

The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.

Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;

Father, of majesty unbounded,

your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,

and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,

the eternal Son of the Father.

When you became man to set us free

you did not shun the Virgin's womb.

You overcame the sting of death

and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

You are seated at God's right hand in glory.

We believe that you will come and be our judge.

Come then, Lord, and help your people,

bought with the price of your own blood,

and bring us with your saints

to glory everlasting.

A Reading from the Gospel of St. Luke (17:11-19)

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

The Homily

Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

The story of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed is both inspiring and convicting. It inspires us to show gratitude to God and one another for the good gifts we receive and convicts us for those times when we forget to offer thanks. Thankfulness is a hugely important theme in the Gospels. The practice of gratitude is also a powerful discipline for resisting the gloom and doom that we so often encounter in the world.

The news media is constantly full of negativity. We hear of war and atrocities in the Middle East, diseases like Zika throughout the Western Hemisphere, gun violence and police brutality in the United States, misconduct and ignorance in our national politics, and more. We are currently fighting to survive Hurricane Matthew (and Nicole) in Savannah and across the whole East Coast. This doesn't even begin to address the profound personal struggles and tragedies that each of us deal with over the course of our lives. In light of the constant threats and tragedies, t is easy to despair and become a pessimist. It is easy to let our sadness and fear turn to resentment.

I imagine that the nine lepers who did not return to Jesus were not obviously mean or angry. They didn't seem to be bad people. But they may have become discouraged by the hurt and pain in their lives. They may have allowed the challenges and tragedies of the world to drive them to despair. And despair is the breeding ground for anger and resentment. Resentment is that place in our soul that turns our dissatisfaction with the world into venomous spite at God or other people. Resentment is the opposite of gratitude.

To be clear, It is perfectly appropriate to mourn for our losses and to acknowledge our feelings of sadness, isolation, and the like. It is also good to acknowledge and challenge injustices in our society. These are not problems to our loving and liberating God. Let us not confuse prideful resentment with righteous anger at systemic and interpersonal evil.

Rather, the "resentment" I want to address is lingering bitterness toward others. It is driven by ego that focuses on all the things I don't have and all the things I can't do. Resentment is when I get jealous to see how well my brother is doing or how much my sister has achieved. Resentment is when I cheer at my neighbor's failures and root for their downfall. Resentment is drinking poison and hoping my enemy gets sick. Resentment prevents me from seeing the blessings God gives; it is a set of self-imposed blinders to the good.

On the other hand, an attitude of gratitude looks for the positive rather than dwelling on the negative. We appreciate the family and friends around us. We celebrate with our neighbors for their successes and mourn with them for their losses. We are grateful for the ability to evacuate our homes before the storm before we are angry about the loss of property. Thankfulness helps us to keep perspective on the things that are actually important: life over stuff, love over hate, God over grudges.

God is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). We are entirely dependent on God's good grace for our existence and sustenance. In Christ and through the Holy Spirit we receive God's very self and presence as the ultimate gifts in this world and the next. These are not simply comforting words, but truths to hang your hat on. The Gospel truth of our dependence on God is a foundation for the Christian life.

I know that this is a difficult time for many of us. We're displaced and worried about family and friends who may still be in dangerous flood and storm zones. It may be hard to hear news of the damage caused by Matthew and look for anything to be thankful for. But I encourage you to try a simple prayer practice as we transition back home:

  • Take 3-5 minutes every day this week to mediate about some things you are grateful for.

  • Jot these things down. This might be as simple as making a list with bullet points.

  • Then look over the list and say "Thank you, God," after each item.

Through this kind of prayer we practice being thankful, and thus fight the egotistical, resentful thoughts that so easily cloud our judgment. Come to Jesus giving thanks and praise and, by God's grace, our faith will make us well. Amen.

The Apostle's Creed (BCP, p. 96)

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit

and born of the Virgin Mary.

He 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,

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

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 Lord’s Prayer (BCP, p. 97)

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy Name,

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those

who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

and the power, and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.

Suffrages B (BCP, p. 98)

V. Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;

R. Govern them 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 upon 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.

The Collect of the Day (BCP, p. 234)

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Collect for Sundays (BCP, p. 98)

O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord: Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Collect for Mission (BCP, p. 100)

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Collect for Protection (BCP, p. 832)

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of your servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Offer your own prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings.

The General Thanksgiving (BCP, p. 101)

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom (BCP, p. 102)

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

Concluding Sentences (BCP, p. 102)

Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (Romans 15:13)

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