Commemoration of the Holy Innocents has been transferred to December 29 this year. Our parish will be conducting a prayer vigil for the upcoming Sudan election on that day. The assigned scriptures for The Holy Innocents Eucharist are Psalm 124; Jeremiah 31:15-17; Revelation 21:1-7; Matthew 2:13-18. There is a bridal paradigm in the scripture readings, and I used that theme in composing the prayers of the people. (The Troparion is Eastern Orthodox. I added the last sentence.)
Interestingly, on the Hebrew calendar, December 29 is in the month of Tevet. The only time Tevet is mentioned in scripture is when Esther went into the king’s chamber.–JW
Troparion for the Holy Innocents (chanted)
As acceptable victims and freshly plucked flowers, as divine firstfruits and newborn lambs, you were offered to Christ who was born as a Child, O most pure children. You mocked Herod’s wickedness: now we beseech you, unceasingly pray for our souls. We beseech You to join Your voices with our prayers for Sudan.
Dear Heavenly Father,
The people of Southern Sudan stand at the threshold of a new era. Purify them in every way to prepare them as the bride of Christ.
Help them to keep Your commandments and do those things that are pleasing in Your sight.
Adorn them with the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit, quiet before You. Open their ears that they may hear You, and open their hearts to ask what You appoint in that moment.
Father, You are the Source of all blessings. May they obtain grace and favor in the eyes of Your Son Jesus Christ, their Bridegroom. Amen.
Esther 2:12-16, 1 Peter 3:1-6, 1 John 3:22
Dear Heavenly Father,
The people of Southern Sudan once worshipped the spirits of nature. Now many have left these ancestral traditions and worship You. May You, Lord, recompense them for what they have done. Indeed, may they be richly rewarded by You, Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings they have come to take refuge.
In Your eyes may they find favor. In Your Holy Word may they find comfort and in the Body and Blood of Your Son spiritual sustenance. Bless them with food sufficient for their needs. Amen.
Our Heavenly Father,
Did not Ruth come to Boaz at the threshing floor where he separated the chaff from the wheat? Did he not spread his garment over her and take her under his protection because she was a virtuous woman?
Christ Jesus is the kinsman redeemer of the Christians in Southern Sudan. We cry out for Him to spread His garment over them and take them under His protection. We plead that His garment will stem the flow of blood and heal this land, just as it healed the woman with the issue of blood. Amen.
Our Heavenly Father,
Boaz bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. He redeemed Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon. He bought her to be his wife to restore the name of the dead to his inheritance so that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from the gate of his birthplace.
We are witnesses that Jesus Christ has bought His people in Southern Sudan to be His bride. He restored this people to life by the price of His blood. As intercessors, we come to the bench of Your judgment. Do not cut this people off from their inheritance and their birthplace, we pray. Amen.
Dear Jesus, our Redeemer,
Pass by Southern Sudan and look upon her. Love her, spread Your garment over her, and cover her nakedness. Declare Your marriage vows over this nation and make a covenant with her. She is Yours.
Wash her with the water of the word. Anoint her with the oil of Your Spirit. Dress her in the clothing of salvation. Drape her in the pure linen of Your righteousness. Adorn her with jewels of holiness. Crown her with lovingkindness and tender mercies. Perfect the beauty of Southern Sudan in Your splendor, Sovereign Lord. Amen.
Ezekiel 16:8-14, Isaiah 61:10
Jehovah Sabaoth, O Lord of hosts,
Your children in Southern Sudan testify that You are their Maker. You are their Husband. O Holy One of Israel, You are their Redeemer. You are God of the whole earth.
They have been forsaken and grieved in spirit. Call them, Lord. Take away their fear. They shall not be ashamed. Neither will they be confounded or depressed. In You they live and move and have their being. Amen.
Isaiah 54:4-6, Acts 17:28