Origen of Alexandria, a third-century Christian scholar, loved Jesus, the Scriptures, and Neo-Platonic philosophy—a combination that Christians since have viewed as either the height of faithful theology or the depth of horrendous error. Whatever one’s views of his theology, his life was utterly dedicated to Christ. In his boyhood, when a persecution struck Alexandria hard, he wanted to rush to be martyred. Only a ruse by his mother—who hid his clothes—prevented his leaving the house! Later in life, the church historian Eusebius [dubiously] reported, he castrated himself in literal obedience to Matthew 19:12. And in 250, during the violent persecution of Decius, he was imprisoned and tortured so severely that he never recovered.
But Origen’s interpretations pushed the boundaries of orthodoxy. He believed, for instance, in the pre-existence of souls and that eventually everyone, including the Devil, would be saved. In addition, he described the Trinity as a hierarchy, not as an equality of Father, Son, and Spirit. Though Origen attacked Gnosticism, in many ways, like the Gnostics, he rejected the goodness of the material creation. His critics have always complained that in many ways this teacher was “blinded by Greek culture.” 1 Despite all this, his works are still read in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church and are influential across a range of theological streams. He taught many of the Church Fathers that followed. Origen put his thoughts on paper and, for that, he was condemned. But all he was doing was the nascent work of theology. And for that we give thanks. STB
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
O Key of David and throne of glory,
you open the way to the future and no one closes;
you close the way to the past and no one opens.
Release us and all your people from the oppressions of the past,
that we may face the future with boldness and purpose—
through the merits of the Son of David, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. WS2
O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth will declare your praise.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me;
make haste to help me, O Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Praise to you, O Christ, Alleluia!
HYMN: Timothy Dudley-Smith ©
Tune: Woodlands https://tinyurl.com/ykte4vz3
1 Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his Word;
in God my Savior shall my heart rejoice.
2 Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age the same;
his holy name, the Lord, the Mighty One.
3 Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
4 Tell out, my soul, the glories of his Word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children’s children and forevermore!
Psalm 104 (Anglican Chant: https://tinyurl.com/uaqp2t4)
1 Praise the Lord, O my soul *
O Lord my God, thou art become exceeding glorious;
thou art clothed with majesty and honour.
2 Thou deckest thyself with light as it were with a garment *
and spreadest out the heavens like a curtain.
3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters *
and maketh the clouds his chariot,
and walketh upon the wings of the wind.
4 He maketh his angels spirits *
and his ministers a flaming fire.
5 He laid the foundations of the earth *
that it never should move at any time.
6 Thou coveredst it with the deep like as with a garment *
the waters stand in the hills.
7 At thy rebuke they flee *
at the voice of thy thunder they are afraid.
8 They go up as high as the hills, and down to the valleys beneath *
even unto the place which thou hast appointed for them.
9 Thou hast set them their bounds which they shall not pass *
neither turn again to cover the earth.
10 He sendeth the springs into the rivers *
which run among the hills.
11 All beasts of the field drink thereof *
and the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 Beside them shall the fowls of the air have their habitation *
and sing among the branches.
13 He watereth the hills from above *
the earth is filled with the fruit of thy works.
14 He bringeth forth grass for the cattle *
and green herb for the service of men;
15 That he may bring food out of the earth,
and wine that maketh glad the heart of man *
and oil to make him a cheerful countenance,
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
16 The trees of the Lord also are full of sap *
even the cedars of Libanus which he hath planted;
17 Wherein the birds make their nests *
and the fir-trees are a dwelling for the stork.
18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats *
and so are the stony rocks for the conies.
19 He appointed the moon for certain seasons *
and the sun knoweth his going down.
20 Thou makest darkness that it may be night *
wherein all the beasts of the forest do move.
21 The lions roaring after their prey *
do seek their meat from God.
22 The sun ariseth, and they get them away together *
and lay them down in their dens.
23 Man goeth forth to his work, and to his labour *
until the evening.
24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works *
in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches.
25 So is the great and wide sea also *
wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
26 There go the ships, and there is that Leviathan *
whom thou hast made to take his pastime therein.
27 These wait all upon thee *
that thou mayest give them meat in due season.
28 When thou givest it them they gather it *
and when thou openest thy hand they are filled with good.
29 When thou hidest thy face they are troubled *
when thou takest away their breath they die,
and are turned again to their dust.
30 When thou lettest thy breath go forth they shall be made *
and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
31 The glorious Majesty of the Lord shall endure for ever *
the Lord shall rejoice in his works.
32 The earth shall tremble at the look of him *
if he do but touch the hills, they shall smoke.
33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live *
I will praise my God while I have my being.
34 And so shall my words please him *
my joy shall be in the Lord.
35 As for sinners, they shall be consumed out of the earth,
and the ungodly shall come to an end *
praise thou the Lord, O my soul, praise the Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.
Psalm 104 (LSB Tone J: http://oremus.org/chant/Psalm-104-LSB.mp3)
1Bless the LORD, O my soul!*
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,*
2 covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;*
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
4 he makes his messengers winds,*
his ministers a flaming fire.
5He set the earth on its foundations,*
so that it should never be moved.
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;*
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they fled;*
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
8The mountains rose, the valleys sank down*
to the place that you appointed for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass,*
so that they might not again cover the earth.
10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;*
they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;*
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;*
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;*
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,*
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15 and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine*
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
16The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,*
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;*
the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;*
the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;*
the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,*
when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,*
seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal away*
and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work*
and to his labor until the evening.
24 O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;*
the earth is full of your creatures.
25Here is the sea, great and wide,*
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,*
and Leviathan, which you formed to | play in it.
27 These all | look to you,*
to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;*
when you open your hand,
they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;*
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,
they are created,*
and you renew the face | of the ground.
31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever;*
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,*
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;*
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,*
for I rejoice | in the LORD.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more!*
Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son* and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the be ginning,* is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Blessed are you, God of hope;
you restore the fallen
and rebuild the broken walls.
Teach us the song of thanksgiving,
for you are the strength of your people;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCW
THE WORD OF GOD
Reading: Jeremiah 23:3-8
I myself will gather the few remaining sheep from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will place over them shepherds who care for them. Then they will no longer be afraid or dread harm, nor will any be missing, declares the Lord.
The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous descendant from David’s line, and he will rule as a wise king. He will do what is just and right in the land. During his lifetime, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And his name will be The Lord Is Our Righteousness.
So the time is coming, declares the Lord, when no one will say, “As the Lord lives who brought up the Israelites from the land of Egypt.” Instead, they will say, “As the Lord lives who brought up the descendants of the people of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where he has banished them so that they can live in their own land.”
HYMN: Psalm 98; para. Timothy Dudley-Smith ©
Tune: Onslow Square
1 Sing a new song to the LORD,
he to whom wonders belong!
Rejoice in his triumph and tell of his pow’r!
O sing to the LORD a new song!
2 Now to the ends of the earth,
see, his salvation is shown,
and still he remembers his mercy and truth,
unchanging in love to his own.
3 Sing a new song and rejoice!
Publish his praises abroad!
Let voices in chorus, with trumpet and horn,
resound for the joy of the LORD!
4 Join with the hills and the sea
thunders of praise to prolong!
In judgment and justice he comes to the earth.
O sing to the LORD a new song!
Reading: Titus 2:11-3:8a
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions.
Talk about these things. Encourage and correct with complete authority. Don’t let anyone disrespect you. Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities. They should be obedient and ready to do every good thing. They shouldn’t speak disrespectfully about anyone, but they should be peaceful, kind, and show complete courtesy toward everyone. We were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, and slaves to our desires and various pleasures too. We were spending our lives in evil behavior and jealousy. We were disgusting, and we hated other people. But “when God our savior’s kindness and love appeared, he saved us because of his mercy, not because of righteous things we had done. He did it through the washing of new birth and the renewing by the Holy Spirit, which God poured out upon us generously through Jesus Christ our savior. So, since we have been made righteous by his grace, we can inherit the hope for eternal life.” This saying is reliable. And I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God might give careful attention to doing good. These things are good and useful for everyone.
HYMN: John R MacDuff
Tune: Unser Herrscher https://tinyurl.com/2hcpb46h
1 Christ is coming! Let creation
from her groans and travail cease;
let the glorious proclamation
hope restore and faith increase:
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Come, thou blessed Prince of Peace.
2 Earth can now but tell the story
of thy bitter cross and pain;
she shall yet behold thy glory,
when thou comest back to reign:
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Let each heart repeat the strain.
3 Long thine exiles have been pining,
far from rest, and home, and thee:
but, in heav’nly vestures shining,
they their loving Lord shall see:
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Haste the joyous jubilee.
4 With that blessed hope before us,
let no harp remain unstrung;
let the mighty advent chorus
onward roll from tongue to tongue:
“Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come!”
Reading: Luke 1:39-45
Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
CANTICLE Isaiah 9; Isaiah 40:1-9; 1 John 1
(Dan Schutte: https://tinyurl.com/ybrvb259)
Awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep!
A new day is dawning for all those who weep
The people in darkness have seen a great light
The Lord of our longing has conquered the night
Let us build the city of God
May our tears be turned into dancing!
For the Lord, our light and our love
Has turned the night into day!
We are sons of the morning; we are daughters of day
The One who has loved us has brightened our way. Refrain
God is light; in him there is no darkness
Let us walk in his light, his children, one and all. Refrain
O comfort my people; make gentle your words
Proclaim to my city the day of her birth. Refrain
You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
want us to wait
for the right time in which to discover
who we are, where we must go,
who will be with us, and what we must do.
Thank you . . . for the waiting time.
You keep us looking.
You, the God of all space,
want us to look in all the right and wrong places
for signs of hope,
for people who are hopeless,
for visions of a better world which will appear
among the disappointments of the world we know.
Thank you . . . for the looking time.
You keep us loving.
You, the God whose name is love,
want us to be like you—
to love the loveless and the unlovely and the unloveable;
to love without jealousy or design or threat;
and, most difficult of all,
to love ourselves.
Thank you . . . for the loving time.
And in all this,
you keep us.
Through hard questions with no easy answers;
through failing where we hoped to succeed
and making an impact when we felt we were useless;
through the patience and the dreams and the love of others;
and through Jesus Christ and his spirit,
you keep us.
Thank you . . . for the keeping time,
and for now, and for ever. Amen.
(Karin Simmons: https://tinyurl.com/y7vwp7dd)
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;
and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
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.
inspire us to read your Scriptures
and to meditate upon them day and night.
We beg you to give us real understanding of what we need,
that we in turn may put its precepts into practice.
Yet we know that understanding and good intentions are worthless,
unless rooted in your graceful love.
So we ask that the words of Scriptures
may also be not just signs on a page,
but channels of grace into our hearts. Amen. Origen
Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen. 2 Cor. 13:14
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BCW Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., 1993.
WS2 The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd edition, © 2013, Faith Alive Christian Resources
Iona as found in CGP Celebrating God’s Presence. © United Church of Canada.
The main scripture readings are © 2011 Common English Bible.
The traditional language psalms are from The Book of Common Prayer (1662). Psalm 69 is in the version sung by Karl Kohlhase http://www.k4communications.com/karl/index.html. Psalm 70 is from The Book of Common Prayer (1979) and is chanted by Ryland Angel.
Musical links are usually either to artists’ albums posted on Spotify or to recordings made available at smallchurchmusic.com. Audio stripped from YouTube videos is footnoted accordingly above.
Compilation © 2022 Stephen T. Benner. All links worked at the time they were created, but I cannot accept responsibility for their content or any damage resulting from their use. The linked content is under the control of the respective content creators and is subject to change at any time. Any copyright texts included in this compilation are provided for non-commercial purposes related to study or worship. Please contact the respective copyright holders for permission to use the texts in other contexts.