or [Common of an Arist, Writer, or Composer] [For Artists and Writers]
Preface of the Epiphany
Eternal God, who gave your servant James Weldon Johnson a heart and voice to praise your Name in verse: As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from your creation; in the Name of Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The First Lesson
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 39:1–11
He seeks out the wisdom of all the ancients,
and is concerned with prophecies;
he preserves the sayings of the famous
and penetrates the subtleties of parables;
he seeks out the hidden meanings of proverbs
and is at home with the obscurities of parables.
He serves among the great
and appears before rulers;
he travels in foreign lands
and learns what is good and evil in the human lot.
He sets his heart on rising early
to seek the Lord who made him,
and to petition the Most High;
he opens his mouth in prayer
and asks pardon for his sins.
If the great Lord is willing,
he will be filled with the spirit of understanding;
he will pour forth words of wisdom of his own
and give thanks to the Lord in prayer.
The Lord will direct his counsel and knowledge,
as he meditates on his mysteries.
He will show the wisdom of what he has learned,
and will glory in the law of the Lord’s covenant.
Many will praise his understanding;
it will never be blotted out.
His memory will not disappear,
and his name will live through all generations.
Nations will speak of his wisdom,
and the congregation will proclaim his praise.
If he lives long, he will leave a name greater than a thousand,
and if he goes to rest, it is enough for him.
Deus noster refugium
1 God is our refuge and strength, *
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, *
and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea;
3 Though its waters rage and foam, *
and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.
4 The Lord of hosts is with us; *
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
5 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, *
the holy habitation of the Most High.
6 God is in the midst of her;
she shall not be overthrown; *
God shall help her at the break of day.
7 The nations make much ado, and the kingdoms are shaken; *
God has spoken, and the earth shall melt away.
8 The Lord of hosts is with us; *
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.”
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