Support us, O Lord, with your gracious favour through the fast we have begun; that as we observe it by bodily self–denial, so we may fulfill it with inner sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Scripture Readings

Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32

Individual Retribution

The word of the Lord came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.

Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.

Psalm 31

Prayer and Praise for Deliverance from Enemies

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
 do not let me ever be put to shame;
 in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me;
 rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
 a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
 for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
 for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
 you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
 but I trust in the Lord.
I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love,
 because you have seen my affliction;
 you have taken heed of my adversities,
and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
 you have set my feet in a broad place.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
 my eye wastes away from grief,
 my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
 and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
 and my bones waste away.

I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
 a horror to my neighbours,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
 those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
 I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many—
 terror all around!—
as they scheme together against me,
 as they plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, O Lord;
 I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in your hand;
 deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
 save me in your steadfast love.
Do not let me be put to shame, O Lord,
 for I call on you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
 let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be stilled
 that speak insolently against the righteous
 with pride and contempt.

O how abundant is your goodness
 that you have laid up for those who fear you,
and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
 in the sight of everyone!
In the shelter of your presence you hide them
 from human plots;
you hold them safe under your shelter
 from contentious tongues.

Blessed be the Lord,
 for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
 when I was beset as a city under siege.
I had said in my alarm,
 ‘I am driven far from your sight.’
But you heard my supplications
 when I cried out to you for help.

Love the Lord, all you his saints.
 The Lord preserves the faithful,
 but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
 all you who wait for the Lord.

Philippians 4:1–9

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

Exhortations

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co–workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

St. John 17:9–19

I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.


“The glory and presence of Christ will return to our lives and churches only when we have rediscovered the cross of Christ.”
— excerpt from Road to Reality
—Metropolitan Yohan

Fasting

“Fasting is like medicine. But like all medicines, though it be very profitable to the person who knows how to use it, it frequently becomes useless, and even harmful, in the hands of him who is unskillful in its use.

I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honour fasting. For the honour of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices, since he who limits his fasting only to abstaining from meat is one especially who disparages fasting.

Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. By what kind of works? If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see an enemy, be reconciled with him. If you see a friend gaining honour, do not be jealous of him. If you see a beautiful woman, pass her by. And let not only the mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all members of your bodies.”

— Saint John Chrysostom:


Giving

Against an angular backdrop of steep hillsides and spacious valleys, Sahlma waged an uphill battle. A load bore down on her small frame as the girl pressed onward. The preteen shouldn’t have been working as a porter, a physically demanding job that required transporting groceries, sand and firewood up and down the mountainside to people. She didn’t like being a porter. But how else could she provide for her siblings? Sahlma’s life, like her work, was a struggle.

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Source for Collects: The Collects are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

Source for Revised Common Lectionary Prayers: Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission. A complete edition of the prayers is available through Augsburg Fortress.

Source for Scripture Passages: Scripture texts are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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