The Lesser Festival of the English Saints and Martyrs of the Reformation Era
This day is set aside to remember all who witnessed to their Christian faith during the conflicts in church and state, which lasted from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries but were at their most intense in the sixteenth century. Though the reform movement was aimed chiefly at the papacy, many Christian men and women of holiness suffered for their allegiance to what they believed to be the truth of the gospel. As the movement grew in strength, it suffered its own internecine struggles, with one group determined that they were the keepers of truth and that all others were therefore at best in a state of ignorance and at worst heretical. In the twentieth century, ecumenical links drew the churches closer to each other in faith and worship and all now recognize both the good and evil that evolved from the Reformation Era.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:
teach us to hear your voice
and to follow your command,
that all your people may be gathered into one flock,
to the glory of God the Father.
His foundation is on the holy mountains.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you,
Zion, city of our God.
I record Egypt and Babylon as those who know me;
behold Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia: in Zion were they born.
And of Zion it shall be said, ‘Each one was born in her,
and the Most High himself has established her.’
The Lord will record as he writes up the peoples,
‘This one also was born there.’
And as they dance they shall sing,
‘All my fresh springs are in you.’
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.John 12:20-26 (NRSV)
This is the word of the Lord.
United in the company of all the faithful and looking for the coming of the kingdom, let us offer our prayers to God, the source of all life and holiness.
Merciful Lord, strengthen all Christian people by your Holy Spirit, that we may live as a royal priesthood and a holy nation to the praise of Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Bless David, Nicholas and Christopher, our bishops, and all ministers of your Church, that by faithful proclamation of your word we may be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets into a holy temple in the Lord.
Empower us by the gift of your holy and life-giving Spirit, that we may be transformed into the likeness of Christ from glory to glory.
Give to the world and its peoples the peace that comes from above, that they may find Christ’s way of freedom and life.
Hold in your embrace all who witness to you love in the service of the poor and needy; all those who minister to the sick and dying; and all who bring light to those in darkness.
Touch and heal those whose lives are scarred by sin and pain, that, raised from death to life in Christ, their sorrow may be turned to eternal joy.
Remember in your mercy those gone before us who have been well-pleasing to you from eternity; preserve us who live here in your faith, guide us to your kingdom, and grant us your peace at all times.
Hasten the day when those who fear you in every nation will come from east and west, from north and south, and sit at table in your kingdom.
And so we give you thanks for the whole company of your saints in glory, with whom in fellowship we join our prayers and praises; by you grace may we, like them, be made perfect in your love.
We give thanks, O God our Father,
for the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord from the dead:
for his victory over sin and the grave;
for his risen presence in our daily lives;
for his promise of life immortal with him.
Accept our praise,
and teach us day by day to live rejoicingly
in the faith of him who died for us,
and rose again, and is alive for evermore,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory
for ever and ever.
May the risen Christ give us his peace.