Listen to or read a short service of Prayer for Tuesday 23 June 2020, the Lesser Festival of Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely.
Etheldreda was born in Suffolk in the seventh century, a daughter of the king. She desired to commit her life to prayer and chastity and, after two arranged and unconsummated marriages, founded a religious house at Ely for both men and women, over which she ruled as Abbess. At her death on this day in 678, she was revered as a woman of austerity, prayer and prophecy.
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
who bestowed such grace upon your servant Etheldreda
that she gave herself wholly to the life of prayer
and to the service of your true religion:
grant that we, like her,
may so live our lives on earth seeking your kingdom
that by your guiding
we may be joined to the glorious fellowship of your saints;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
My soul shall glory in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look upon him and be radiant
and your faces shall not be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him
and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is gracious;
blessed is the one who trusts in him.
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.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.’Matthew 25.1-13
This is the word of the Lord.
Let us pray to God, who calls men and women to obedience in his service.
Endow the Church with the spirit of discipline, keeping her faithful in ordered worship and witness. Bless all whose lives of work and prayer are lived under vows of obedience. We give thanks for the example of Etheldreda who was called to the religious life and pray for strength in our own devotion.
Have mercy on this unruly world, and bring order where there is confusion and lack of direction. Give wisdom to rulers and lawgivers, keeping them constant in care for those committed to their authority. Bless all religious communities, that they may be beacons of light in the darkness.
Grant us order and security in our families and all our relationships. Help us to follow regular lives of prayer and to be temperate in all we do.
Have mercy on those who have broken the vows they once made and fallen away from any part of their Christian profession. Give strength to religious orders who work for the relief of poverty and distress.
We give thanks for all whose lives in religion witnessed to your love in this world and have now passed to rest. We pray for those who care for the dying, and ask that their prayers shall ease the way through death to eternal life.
We pray that the order of our lives may confess our faith in Christ.
O God our protector,
by whose mercy the world turns safely into darkness
and returns again to light:
we give into your hands our unfinished tasks,
our unsolved problems,
and our unfulfilled hopes;
for you alone are our sure defence
and bring us lasting peace
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.