Monday, November 19, 2012

Humiliation & Prayer Sunday

[Written to my congregation this past Sunday - Pastor Spencer]

Why Observe A Day of Humiliation & Prayer?

           A day of humiliation and prayer has been observed in the Church since the middle of the 4th Century, very soon after the Christian faith was no longer an outlaw religion.  Both Pastors and people recognized the need to remember our place under our Almighty Father and beneficent Creator as created beings; sinful and often arrogant ones at that. This need seemed most apparent during times of great danger, stress, or upheaval, either from political forces or from the earth itself.
          As nation-states came into being, it became very common for the leaders of a country to declare "a national day of humiliation and prayer" in the face of some natural disaster, at a time of invasion and war, or in the midst of great economic hardship for the people. Thus, in the Lutheran lands during the Thirty Year's War such proclamations came often. Such was also the case during the two English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the War Between the States, and World Wars I & II. Proclamations of a National Day of Humiliation and Prayer by men like George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt have become quite famous in American history. But over the past fifty years or so, the practice of setting aside a day to focus on our great need for God and His grace and mercy, and to pray for His continued love and blessing has fallen into disuse.
          We certainly cannot say that this is the cause of the difficulties and calamities of the past few decades – Viet Nam, Watergate, terrible floods and hurricanes, AIDS, political scandal and upheaval, 9/11, economic hardship, Jihad, and the like. However, it is certain that in past centuries such problems would bring about a turn of God's people to publicly and openly recognize their sins, and their need for His help.
                   Thus, as your shepherd, I have decided that there is no better time than now to return to this ancient and worthwhile practice and set aside one of our Sundays of worship as a Day of Humiliation and Prayer. In doing this I do not desire to forget that each Sunday is in fact a celebration of Christ's Resurrection, or to detract from the joy of our sure and certain salvation by grace through faith. I hope only to give us all an opportunity to give voice to our humility as reconciled sinners before our holy God, and to our pleas for His mercy and guidance in our many trials and problems.
          Let us use this occasion to admit that we have rebelled against God's will and brought much of our troubles upon ourselves by our greed, impatience, and pride. Let us pray for His undeserved grace and continued blessings upon us, our church, and our nation. Let us then leave our worship refreshed by His love and forgiveness, and strengthened by His Word to be better and more able citizens and Christians!
          To God alone be the glory!

Propers, Hymns, and Readings
for Humiliation & Prayer Sunday

Possible Sundays:
- Sunday before Ascension (Rogate); very ancient practice from the early church
- a Sunday in late October/early November (harvest & winter planting); again very historic, especially in Germany
- the last Sunday of the Church Year; in place of Christ the King Sunday in
preparation for Advent 

The Order of Holy Communion (TLH 1941), or Service of Word & Sacrament (CW)  

Opening Hymn:
286 or 287

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the LORD has spoken, "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me." They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger; they are gone away backward. If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who shall stand?

Almighty and most merciful God, our heavenly Father, of whose compassion there is no end, Who is long-sufferings, gracious, and plenteous in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, we have sinned and done perversely, we have forsaken and grievously offended You; against You, You only, have we sinned and done evil in Your sight. But we ask You, O LORD, remember not against us our former iniquities; let Your tender mercies speedily come to us, for we are brought very low; help us, O God of our salvation, and purge away our sins for the glory of Your holy name and for the sake of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament Lesson:
First Samuel 7:3-14, Isaiah 1:2-20, Daniel 9:3-19, or Joel 2:11-19

6, 32, 38, or 130

Acts 3:12-26, Romans 12:1-21, First Timothy 1:12-2:8, Hebrews 10:19-31

Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!
Let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. Praise the LORD!

Matthew 3:1-17, Matthew 5:13-20 & 6:1-8, Matthew 6:16-34, or Matthew 7:1-23

Hymn of the Day:

Prayer of the Church:
The Litany

P: Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.
P: Christ, have mercy upon us.
C: Christ, have mercy upon us.
P: Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.
P: O Christ, hear us.
C: O Christ, hear us.
P: O God, the Father in heaven:
C: Have mercy upon us.
P: O God, the Son, Redeemer of the world:
C: Have mercy upon us.
P: O God, the Holy Ghost:
C: Have mercy upon us.
P: O Holy Trinity, One God:
C: Have mercy upon us.
P: Be gracious unto us.
C: Spare us, good LORD.
P: Be gracious unto us.
C: Help us, good LORD.
P: From all sin; from all error; from all evil:
C: Good LORD, deliver us.
P: From the crafts and assaults of the devil;
From sudden and evil death;
From pestilence and famine;
From war and bloodshed;
From sedition and rebellion;
From lightening and tempest;
From all calamity by fire and water;
And from everlasting death:
C: Good LORD, deliver us.
P: By the mystery of Your holy Incarnation(+);
By Your holy birth;
By Your Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation;
By Your Agony and bloody Sweat;
By Your Cross and Passion (+);
By Your precious Death and Burial;
By Your glorious Resurrection and Ascension;
And by the coming of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter:
C: Help us, good Lord.
P: In all times of our tribulation;
In all times of our prosperity;
In the hour of our death;
And on the Day of Judgment:
C: Help us, good Lord.
P: We poor sinners do beseech You;
C: To hear us, good LORD.
P: To rule and govern Your Holy Christian Church;
To preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your Word, and in holiness of life;
To put an end to all divisions and causes of offence;
To bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived;
To beat down Satan under our feet;
To send faithful laborers in your harvest;
To accompany your Word with Your Spirit and grace;
To raise up them that fall, and to strengthen such as do stand;
And to comfort and help the weak-hearted and the distresses:
C: We ask You to hear us, good LORD.
P: To give to all nations peace and concord;
To preserve our country from discord and contention;
To direct and defend our President, and all others in authority;
To bless and keep our magistrates, and all our people:
C: We beseech You to hear us, good LORD.
P: To behold and rescue all who are in danger, necessity and tribulation;
To protect all who travel by land, air, or water.
To preserve all women in the perils of childbirth;
To strengthen and keep all sick persons and young children;
To set free all who are innocently imprisoned.
To defend and provide for all fatherless children and widows;
And to have mercy upon all people:
C: We beseech you to hear us, good LORD.
P: To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts;
To give and preserve to our use the fruits of the earth;
And graciously to hear our prayers:
C: We beseech You to hear us, good LORD.
 P: O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God;
C: We beseech You to hear us.
P: O Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world;
C: Have mercy upon us.
P: O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of world;
C: Have mercy upon us.
P: O Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world;
C: Grant us Your peace!
P: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Who desires not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his evil ways and live: We beseech You graciously to turn from us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and to grace us grace hereafter to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.
C: Amen.

Communion Distribution Hymn:

Closing Hymn:
408, 409, 412, or 413

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