Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (Hebrews 2:1-3)
Lord Jesus, help us to be straight-forward about the consequences of sin and death.
Holy Spirit, help us set aside our modern sensibilities and look at the cost of sin and crime.
Father, bring us all to a saving knowledge of what Jesus has done for us by his cross and resurrection.
[What follows is an extract from a service for prisoners from the American Book of Common Prayer 1790, pages 315-318. The prayer is for a prisoner who is about to be executed. Are we willing to be as straight-forward about sin and crime and its consequences as these prayers are? Torre]
A Form of Prayer for Person under sentence of death.
¶ When a Criminal is under sentence of death, the Minister shall proceed to exhort him after this form, or other like.
DEARLY beloved, it hath pleased Almighty God, in his justice, to bring you under the sentence and condemnation of the law. You are shortly to suffer death in such a manner that others, warned by your example, may be the more afraid to offend; and we pray God, that you may make such use of your punishments in this world, that your soul may be saved in the world to come.
Wherefore we come to you in the bowels of compassion; and, being desirous that you should avoid presumption on the one hand, and despair on the other, shall plainly lay before you the wretchedness of your condition, and declare how far you ought to depend on the mercies of God and the merits of our Saviour. Consider then seriously with yourself, in all appearance the time of your dissolution draweth near; your sins have laid fast hold upon you; you are soon to be removed from among men by a violent death; and you shall fade away suddenly like the grass, which in the morning is green and growth up, but in the evening is cut down, dried up, and withered. After you have thus finished the course of a sinful and miserable life, you shall appear before the Judge of all flesh; who, as he pronounces blessing on the righteous, shall likewise say, with a terrible voice of most just judgment, to the wicked, Go, you accursed, into the fire everlasting, prepared for the devil and his angels.
Your sins have brought you too near this dreadful sentence: it is therefore your part and duty, my brother, humbly to confess and bewail your great and manifold offences, and to repent you truly of your sins, as you tender the eternal salvation of your soul.
Be not deceived with a vain and presumptuous expectation of God’s favour, nor say within yourself, Peace, peace, where is no peace; for there is no peace, saith my God to the wicked. God is not mocked; he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and without holiness no man shall see the Lord. On the other hand, despair not of God’s mercy, though trouble is on every side; for God shutteth not up his mercies for ever in displeasure; but if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Do not either way abuse the goodness of God, who calleth us mercifully to amendment and of his endless pity promiseth us forgiveness of that which is past, if with a perfect and a true heart we return unto him.
Since there you are soon to pass into an endless and unchangeable state, and your future happiness of misery depends upon the few moments which are left you, I require you strictly to examine yourself and your estate both towards God and towards man; and let no worldly consideration hinder you from making a true and full confession of your sins, and giving all the satisfaction which is in your power to every one whom you have wronged or injured; that you may find mercy at your heavenly Father’s hand, for Christ’s sake, and not be condemned in the dreadful day of judgment.
Lastly, beloved, submit yourself with Christian resignation to the just judgment of God, which your own crimes have brought upon you, and be in charity with all men; being ready sincerely to forgive all such as have offended you, not excepting those who have prosecuted you even unto death; and though this may seem a hard saying, yet know assuredly, that without it your charity is not yet perfect. And fail not earnestly to endeavour and pray for this blessed temper and composure of mind. So may you cast yourself with an entire dependence upon the mercies of God, through the merits of our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ.
¶ Here the Minister shall examine him concerning his faith, and rehearse the Articles of the CREED, Dost thou believe in God, etc. And the Criminal shall answer,
All this I stedfastly believe.
¶ Then shall the Minister examine whether he repent him truly of his sins, exhorting him to a particular confession of sin for which he is condemned; and upon confession, he shall instruct him what satisfaction ought to be made to those whom he has offended thereby; and if he knoweth any combinations in wickedness, or any evil practices designed against others, let him be admonished to the utmost of his power to discover and prevent them.
¶ After his confession, the Priest shall declare to him the pardoning mercy of God, in the form which is used to the Communion Service.
¶ After which shall be said the Collect following.
O HOLY Jesus, who of thine infinite goodness, didst accept the conversion of a sinner on the cross; Open thine eye of mercy upon this thy servant who desireth pardon and forgiveness, though in his latest hour he turneth unto thee. Renew in him whatever hath been decayed by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by his own carnal will and frailness. Consider his contrition; accept his repentance; and forasmuch as he putteth his full trust only in thy mercy, impute not unto him his former sins, but strengthen him with thy blessed Spirit; and when thou are pleased to take him hence, take him unto they favour. This we beg through thy merits, O Lord, our Saviour and our Redeemer. Amen.
¶ Then shall the Minister say,
O FATHER of mercies, and God of all comfort: We fly unto thee for succour in behalf of this thy servant, who is now under the sentence of condemnation. The day of his calamity is at hand, and he is accounted as one of those who go down into the pit. Blessed Lord, remember thy mercies; look upon his infirmities; hear the voice of his complaint; give him, we beseech thee, patience in this his time of adversity, and support under the terrors which encompass him; set before his eyes the things he hath done in the body, which have justly provoked thee to anger; and forasmuch as his continuance appeareth to be short amongst us, quicken him so much the more by thy grace and Holy Spirit; that, he being converted and reconciled unto thee, before thy judgments have cut him off from the earth may at the hour of his death depart in peace, and be received into thine everlasting kingdom: through Jesus Christ our Lord.
¶ Adding this,
O SAVIOUR of the world, who by thy Cross and precious Blood hast redeemed us; Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.
¶ Then the Minister, standing, shall say,
IN the midst of life we are in death; of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins are justly displeased?
Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mightly, O holy and most merciful Savour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.
Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and merciful Saviour, thou most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not at our last hour, for any pains of death to fall from thee.
¶ Then the Minister shall say,
THE Almighty God, who is a most strong tower to all those who put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, do bow and obey, Be now and evermore thy defence; and make thee know and feel, that there is none other Name under heaven given to man, in whom, and through whom, thou mayest receive salvation, but only the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
¶ And after that shall say,
UNTO God’s gracious mercy and protection we commit thee. The LORD bless thee, and keep thee. The LORD make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace, both now and evermore. Amen.
¶ At the time of Execution, the Minister shall use such devotions as he shall think proper.
Notice. It is judged best that the Criminal should not make any public profession or declaration.
The Collect for the Communion Service.
O GOD who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; We beseech thee to have mercy upon this thy servant, who for his transgressions is appoint to die. Grant that he may take thy judgments patiently, and repent him truly of his sins; that he recovering thy favour, the fearful reward of his actions may end with this life; and whensoever his soul shall depart from the body, it may be without spot presented unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle, Heb.xii.11.
NO chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
The Gospel. St. John v. 24.
VERILY, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Tuesday: 5, 6 * 10, 11; Gen. 3:1-24: Heb. 2:1-10: John 1:19-28
Wednesday: 119:1-24 * 12, 13, 14; Gen. 4:1-16: Heb. 2:11-18: John 1:(29-34 )35-42
Notes from the Front Line
***** Date: Mon, 09 Jan 2012
From: Nigel Mumford
Subject: Daily Quote…
I have learnt to pay attention to my dreams. In 1975 I was a crew member on a fifty five foot sail boat in a race on the Mediterranean sea. When off watch I had a dream that a submarine had caught its periscope in the ruder and had started to drag us under. I told my watch the dream. They laughed at me. An hour later, a submarine crossed our bow about a quarter of a mile away. They stopped laughing! So did I! “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.” Genesis 37:19
***** Prayer requests from Willowfield parish in Belfast, Northern Ireland:
Date: Mon, 09 Jan 2012
From: Ronnie O’Neill
Subject: VERY URGENT urgent urgent prayer needed.Done
This came in from Mark this morning but I was out shortly after seven; Mark is right!! We need to Battle for this!!!
Update on “Y”:
“I woke up this morning to this news regarding Y and had to share it before heading off to work.
Thank you so much for your prayers and messages of encouragement. This fight is not yet fully over so please continue to pray that Y finds the strength she needs. Please also pray for the safety of her sister — this situation is being observed.
Thanks again — have a blessed week in Him who can do ALL things.”
Cheers and God bless…