Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me. . . .
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:5, 9-12
Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.2 And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. . . . Then the Levites . . . said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.
“And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, . . . You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.
“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. . . . But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. . . . You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. Nehemiah 9:1-2, 5-9, 15-17, 20-21
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and,“The laborer deserves his wages.” Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 1 Timothy 5:17-20
We believe that God is present everywhere and that the eyes of the Lord behold the good and the bad in every place (Proverbs 15:3). Let us firmly believe this, especially when we take part in [the Divine Service]. Let us, therefore, always be mindful of what the prophet says, “Serve the Lord with fear” (Psalm 2:11). And again, “Sing wisely” (Psalm 46:8). And, “I will sing praise to You in the sight of angels” (Psalm 137:1). Therefore, let us consider how it benefits us to behave in the sight of God and His angels, and let us then stand to sing, that our minds may be in harmony with our voices.
If we do not dare to approach men who are in power except with humility and reverence when we wish to ask a favor, how much must we make requests of the Lord God of all things with all humility and purity of devotion? And let us be assured that it is not in many words, but it is by hearts [declared] pure and with repentant tears, that we are heard. [St. Benedict of Nursia–theologian of the Church c. 480 – 543 or 547]
DAILY PRAYER for FRIDAY
Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, we thank You . . . that You have redeemed us poor and condemned creatures not by any of our works, merit, or worthiness, but by Your holy suffering, death, and shedding of blood. O Lord, Your suffering was great, Your torment was heavy; we cannot comprehend how may Your stripes, how deep Your wounds, or the bitterness and painfulness of Your death! How inexpressible is Your love that reconciled us to Your heavenly Father. In great fear of death, You sweat blood on the Mount of Olives, drops of blood that fell upon the earth, and there, abandoned by all Your disciples, You willingly gave Yourself into the hands of those who led You mercilessly, bound hard and cruel, from one unjust judge to another. You were falsely accused and condemned, spit upon, scoffed at, and struck in the face with fists. For the sake of our misdeeds, You were hit, whipped, crowned with thorns, and treated wretchedly—like a worm and not a man. You were despised and rejected by men, a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief, so that even a heathen heart took pity and said, “Behold the man!” For the sake of our sin You were counted a sinner and hung up between two evildoers as a curse. You were pierced in hands and feet with nails, and in Your highest thirst You were given vinegar and gall to drink. Finally, in great pain, You gave up Your spirit so that You could pay our debt and we could be healed by Your wounds.
O Lord Jesus Christ, for this and all Your other suffering and pain, we give You thanks and praise. We pray You, let Your holy, bitter suffering and death not be lost on us, but grant that at all times this may be our comfort, and that we may boast in it; and that as we ponder it, all evil desire in us may be snuffed out and subdued, and all virtue may be implanted and increased, so that we, having died to sin, may live in righteousness, following the example You have left us, walking in Your footsteps, enduring evil with patience, and suffering injustice with a good conscience. Amen.