Morning Prayer (CW) – The Feast of the Annunciation

(BCP Morning Prayer is Below)

Preparation

O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love,
according to your judgement give us life.

Blessed are you, God of compassion and mercy,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In the darkness of our sin,
your light breaks forth like the dawn
and your healing springs up for deliverance.
As we rejoice in the gift of your saving help,
sustain us with your bountiful Spirit
and open our lips to sing your praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

A Song of Penitence

1        Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness;
according to the abundance of your compassion
blot out my offences.

2        Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sin.

3        For I acknowledge my faults
and my sin is ever before me.

4        Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,

5        So that you are justified in your sentence
and righteous in your judgement.

6        Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your holy spirit from me.

7        Give me again the joy of your salvation
and sustain me with your gracious spirit;

8        Then shall I teach your ways to the wicked
and sinners shall return to you.

9        Deliver me from my guilt, O God,
the God of my salvation,
and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness.

Psalm 51.1-5, 12-15

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever. Amen.

The Word of God

Psalmody

Psalm 111

1        Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the faithful and in the congregation.

2        The works of the Lord are great,
sought out by all who delight in them.

3        His work is full of majesty and honour
and his righteousness endures for ever.

4        He appointed a memorial for his marvellous deeds;
the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

5        He gave food to those who feared him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.

6        He showed his people the power of his works
in giving them the heritage of the nations.

7        The works of his hands are truth and justice;
all his commandments are sure.

8        They stand fast for ever and ever;
they are done in truth and equity.

9        He sent redemption to his people;
he commanded his covenant for ever;
holy and awesome is his name.

10      The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have those who live by it;
his praise endures for ever.

Psalm 113

1        Alleluia.
Give praise, you servants of the Lord,
O praise the name of the Lord.

2        Blessed be the name of the Lord,
from this time forth and for evermore.

3        From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised.

4        The Lord is high above all nations
and his glory above the heavens.

5        Who is like the Lord our God,
that has his throne so high,
yet humbles himself to behold
the things of heaven and earth?

6        He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ashes,

7        To set them with princes,
with the princes of his people.

8        He gives the barren woman a place in the house
and makes her a joyful mother of children.
Alleluia.

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

If there are two Scripture readings, the first may be read here,
or both may be read after the canticle.

1Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the LORD;
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.
2‘There is no Holy One like the LORD,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

3Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
8He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honour.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them he has set the world.

9‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.
10The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.’

Canticle

We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as the Lord;

all creation worships you,
the Father everlasting.

To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
the 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 praise,
the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the King of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.

When you took our flesh to set us free
you humbly chose 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.

The canticle may end here.

Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance.
Govern and uphold them now and always.

Day by day we bless you.
We praise your name for ever.

Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.

Lord, show us your love and mercy,
for we have put our trust in you.

In you, Lord, is our hope:
let us never be put to shame.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Full of compassion and mercy and love
is God, the Most High, the Almighty.

Hebrews 10.4-10

4It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
6in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’
8When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Responsory

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
O my God, in you I trust.
You are the God of my salvation,
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
In you I hope all the day long.
O my God, in you I trust.
Remember, Lord, your compassion and love,
for they are from everlasting.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
O my God, in you I trust.
from Psalm 25   

 

Gospel Canticle

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

1        Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel,
who has come to his people and set them free.

2        He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
born of the house of his servant David.

3        Through his holy prophets God promised of old
to save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all that hate us,

4        To show mercy to our ancestors,
and to remember his holy covenant.

5        This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

6        Free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.

7        And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

8        To give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of all their sins.

9        In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

10      To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1.68-79

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Sermon – What if she had said No?

The Feast of the Annunciation, nine months before Christmas, is when the Angel visited Mary to tell her that she had been chosen by God to be bear His son, Jesus.

But what if she had said No? The question may strike you as irreverent.

How dare I ask that the Blessed Virgin Mary could have left us in the lurch?
But what if she had? Could she have said No?

We might say that of course she couldn’t, she was far too holy — but we would be guilty of demeaning her and dangerous sentimentality. It is demeaning because it turns Mary from a free human being into a sanctified automaton. The whole glory of the Annunciation is that Mary could have said ‘No’ to God but she said ‘Yes’ instead.

That is what we celebrate, that is what we praise her for; and rightly so – even as Anglicans. If we believe that the most important decision in the history of the world was in fact inevitable, then that means it was effortless. So, next time we’re faced with a tough moral decision, we needn’t worry about doing what is right. Let’s just drift, and God will make sure that whatever choice we make is the right one.

So Mary could have said No to Gabriel. But, what if she had?

Gabriel couldn’t just go and ask someone else. We can consider the implications of that another day. Let’s accept that she had a choice and faced with the enormity of her choice.

If she had said No, unredeemed generations would toil on under the burden of sin.

If she said Yes, she herself would suffer, and so would her Son; but both would be glorified.

Millions of people not yet born would have Heaven open to them; but millions of others would suffer oppression and death in her son’s name. The stakes were almost infinite.

You might say that Mary didn’t worry about all this, just obeyed God; but God wanted her full and informed consent as the representative of the entire human race not some unthinking obedience.

There are two great miracles at the Annunciation; they are these:

  • God gave Mary the wisdom to know the consequences of her decision,
  • God gave Mary the grace not to be overwhelmed by that knowledge.

When we come to an important decision in our lives, we can easily find our minds clouded by the possible consequences, or, even more, by partial knowledge of them.
How can we ever move, when there is so much good and evil whichever way we go? The Annunciation gives us the answer.

God’s grace will give us the strength to move, even if the fate of the whole world is hanging in the balance. After all, God does not demand that our decisions should be the correct ones (assuming that there even is such a thing), only that they should be rightly made. Amen

Prayers

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference

In penitence and faith let us make our prayer to the Father and ask for his mercy and grace.

On this day the Father made our salvation known to Mary
by the message of an angel.
Filled with confidence, let us pray.

You chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son.
Have mercy on all who wait for your redemption.
We pray for … [the Church universal]

Through your angel Gabriel you brought a message of peace and joy to Mary.
Give to the world the joy and peace of salvation.
We pray for … [the peace of the world]

By the consent of your handmaid and the power of the Holy Spirit,
your Word came to dwell among us.
Open our hearts to receive Christ, as Mary the Virgin received him.
We pray for … [those present with you, your family and friends]

You look with compassion on the lowly
and fill the hungry with good things.
Encourage the downhearted, help all those in need
and comfort those near to death.
We pray for … [those suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sick, the suffering, the helpless]

To you, O God, nothing is impossible,
and you alone do marvellous things;
save us, and bring us, and all those we love but see no longer, on the last day
with the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Andrew, St Peter and St Paul, St Wilfrid, St Swithun, St Thomas of Canterbury and all whole company of heaven
into your glorious kingdom.

Grant, O Lord,
that by the riches of your grace
we may grow up into him who unites our life to yours,
even he who is the first-born of all creation,
your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

Eternal God, you are the light of the minds that know you, the joy of the hearts that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you: grant us so to know you that we may truly love you, so love you that we may truly serve you, whose service is perfect freedom. Amen.

After Augustine of Hippo (430)

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Let us commend the world, for which Christ suffered,
to the mercy and protection of God.

Silence may be kept.

The Collect of the day is said

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer is said

Trusting in the compassion of God,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

The Conclusion

May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Christ the Son of God, born of Mary,
fill you with his grace to trust his promises and obey his will;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

 

 

 

Morning Prayer from The Book of Common Prayer

Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Introduction

The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance; the memory of the just is blessed.
Psalm 112.6; Proverbs 10.7        

I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Psalm 51.3         

Dearly beloved brethren,
the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge
and confess our manifold sins and wickedness;

and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before
the face of almighty God our heavenly Father;
but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent and
obedient heart;
to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same
by his infinite goodness and mercy.
And although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge
our sins before God;
yet ought we most chiefly so to do,
when we assemble and meet together
to render thanks for the great benefits that we have
received at his hands,
to set forth his most worthy praise,
to hear his most holy word,
and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary,
as well for the body as the soul.

Wherefore I pray and beseech you,
as many as are here present,
to accompany me with a pure heart, and humble voice,
unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying after me:

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires
of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things
which we ought to have done;
and we have done those things
which we ought not to have done;
and there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults.
Restore thou them that are penitent;
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesu our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy name. Amen.

The priest says

Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who desireth not the death of a sinner,
but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live;
and hath given power, and commandment, to his ministers
to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent,
the absolution and remission of their sins:
he pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent
and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel.
Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance,
and his Holy Spirit,
that those things may please him which we do at this present;
and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy;
so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

Morning Prayer

O Lord, open thou our lips
and our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

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.

Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord’s name be praised.

Venite, exultemus Domino

1        O come, let us sing unto the Lord :
let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.

2        Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving :
and shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

3        For the Lord is a great God :
and a great King above all gods.

4        In his hand are all the corners of the earth :
and the strength of the hills is his also.

5        The sea is his, and he made it :
and his hands prepared the dry land.

6        O come, let us worship, and fall down :
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

7        For he is the Lord our God :
and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

8        Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts :
as in the provocation,
and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness;

9        When your fathers tempted me :
proved me, and saw my works.

10      Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said :
It is a people that do err in their hearts,
for they have not known my ways.

11      Unto whom I sware in my wrath :
that they should not enter into my rest.

Psalm 95

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.

Psalmody

Psalm 111

Confitebor tibi

I         will give thanks unto the Lord with my whole heart :
secretly among the faithful, and in the congregation.

2        The works of the Lord are great :
sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

3        His work is worthy to be praised and had in honour :
and his righteousness endureth for ever.

4        The merciful and gracious Lord hath so done his marvellous works :
that they ought to be had in remembrance.

5        He hath given meat unto them that fear him :
he shall ever be mindful of his covenant.

6        He hath shewed his people the power of his works :
that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.

7        The works of his hands are verity and judgement :
all his commandments are true.

8        They stand fast for ever and ever :
and are done in truth and equity.

9        He sent redemption unto his people :
he hath commanded his covenant for ever; holy and reverend is his Name.

10      The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom :
a good understanding have all they that do thereafter; the praise of it endureth for ever.

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.

Old Testament Reading

1 Samuel 2.1-10

Then Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
There is no-one holy like the LORD;
there is no-one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.
The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.
The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honour.
For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’S;
upon them he has set the world.
He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
It is not by strength that one prevails;
those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

Te Deum Laudamus

We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein.
To thee cherubin and seraphin continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee.
The noble army of martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee:
the Father of an infinite majesty;
thine honourable, true and only Son;
also the Holy Ghost the Comforter.

Thou art the King of glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man,
thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants,
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
and we worship thy name, ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.

New Testament Reading

Hebrews 10.4-10

4It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
6in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’
8When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Jubilate

1        O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands :
serve the Lord with gladness,
and come before his presence with a song.

2        Be ye sure that the Lord he is God :
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

3        O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise :
be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name.

4        For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting :
and his truth endureth from generation to generation.

Psalm 100         

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.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead and buried.
He descended into hell;
the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic Church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

Prayers

The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us.
And grant us thy salvation.

O Lord, save the Queen.
And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.

Endue thy ministers with righteousness.
And make thy chosen people joyful.

O Lord, save thy people.
And bless thine inheritance.

Give peace in our time, O Lord.
Because there is none other that fighteth for us,
but only thou, O God.

O God, make clean our hearts within us.
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

The Collect of the Day

We beseech thee, O Lord,
pour thy grace into our hearts;
that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ
by the message of an angel,
so by his cross and passion
we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for Peace

O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord,
in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life,
whose service is perfect freedom;
defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies;
that we, surely trusting in thy defence,
may not fear the power of any adversaries;
through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

The Collect for Grace

O Lord, our heavenly Father,
almighty and everlasting God,
who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day;
defend us in the same with thy mighty power;
and grant that this day we fall into no sin,
neither run into any kind of danger,
but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance,
to do always that is righteous in thy sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference

In penitence and faith let us make our prayer to the Father and ask for his mercy and grace.

For thy holy people,
that they may triumph over evil and grow in grace,
we pray to thee, O Lord.
Lord, in thy mercy
hear our prayer

For candidates for baptism and confirmation,
that they may live by every word that doest proceed from thy mouth,
we pray to thee, O Lord.
Lord, in thy mercy
hear our prayer

For the leaders of the nations,
that thou wilt guide them in the ways of mercy and truth,
we pray to thee, O Lord.
Lord, in thy mercy
hear our prayer

For the needy,
that they may not be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor be taken away,
we pray to thee, O Lord.
Lord, in thy mercy
hear our prayer

For the sick in body, mind and spirit,
that they shall come know thy power to heal,
we pray to thee, O Lord.
Lord, in thy mercy
hear our prayer

For the poor in spirit,
that they may inherit the kingdom of heaven
and see thee face to face,
we pray to thee, O Lord.
Lord, in thy mercy
hear our prayer

Eternal God, thou art the light of the minds that know thee,
the joy of the hearts that love thee,
and the strength of the wills that serve thee:
grant us so to know thee that we may truly love thee,
so love thee that we may truly serve thee,
whose service is perfect freedom. Amen.

After Augustine of Hippo (430)

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of thy mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in thy comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from thy love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Let us commend the world, for which Christ suffered,
to the mercy and protection of God. Amen.

Sermon – What if she had said No?

The Feast of the Annunciation, nine months before Christmas, is when the Angel visited Mary to tell her that she had been chosen by God to be bear His son, Jesus.

But what if she had said No? The question may strike you as irreverent.

How dare I ask that the Blessed Virgin Mary could have left us in the lurch?
But what if she had? Could she have said No?

We might say that of course she couldn’t, she was far too holy — but we would be guilty of demeaning her and dangerous sentimentality. It is demeaning because it turns Mary from a free human being into a sanctified automaton. The whole glory of the Annunciation is that Mary could have said ‘No’ to God but she said ‘Yes’ instead.

That is what we celebrate, that is what we praise her for; and rightly so – even as Anglicans. If we believe that the most important decision in the history of the world was in fact inevitable, then that means it was effortless. So, next time we’re faced with a tough moral decision, we needn’t worry about doing what is right. Let’s just drift, and God will make sure that whatever choice we make is the right one.

So Mary could have said No to Gabriel. But, what if she had?

Gabriel couldn’t just go and ask someone else. We can consider the implications of that another day. Let’s accept that she had a choice and faced with the enormity of her choice.

If she had said No, unredeemed generations would toil on under the burden of sin.

If she said Yes, she herself would suffer, and so would her Son; but both would be glorified.

Millions of people not yet born would have Heaven open to them; but millions of others would suffer oppression and death in her son’s name. The stakes were almost infinite.

You might say that Mary didn’t worry about all this, just obeyed God; but God wanted her full and informed consent as the representative of the entire human race not some unthinking obedience.

There are two great miracles at the Annunciation; they are these:

  • God gave Mary the wisdom to know the consequences of her decision,
  • God gave Mary the grace not to be overwhelmed by that knowledge.

When we come to an important decision in our lives, we can easily find our minds clouded by the possible consequences, or, even more, by partial knowledge of them.
How can we ever move, when there is so much good and evil whichever way we go? The Annunciation gives us the answer.

God’s grace will give us the strength to move, even if the fate of the whole world is hanging in the balance. After all, God does not demand that our decisions should be the correct ones (assuming that there even is such a thing), only that they should be rightly made. Amen

The Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,
be with us all evermore. Amen.

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above):

Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000

Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

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