3rd December Evening Prayer

Holy One, make speed to save us:
O God, come quickly to help us.

Glory to God, Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.


Thursdays: From Psalm 126, In convertendo

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, *
then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, *
and our tongue with shouts of joy.
The Lord has done great things for us, * and we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, * like the watercourses of the Negev.
Let those who go out weeping, carry-ing the seed, *
come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Reflection: John the Silent

St. John the Silent, named for his love of solitude, came from a prominent Armenian family. At eighteen, he built a monastery and for a decade led ten young companions in a life of devotion and hard work. Because of his reputation as a leader, at age twenty-eight and over his protests, he was made bishop of Colonia in Armenia. For nine years he faithfully performed his office. In 490, however, John went to Constantinople to secure the emperor’s intervention to quell a local persecution. When the mission was accomplished, he decided not to return to Colonia, but slipped away into the desert in search of quiet.

A vision of a bright cross led John to the Mar Saba, the monastery of St. Sabas in Palestine. For several years Sabas subjected his novice to tests of hard labor and service. Judging John to be a serious candidate for holiness, around 494 he finally allowed him to embrace the solitary life of a hermit. John reveled in his new pattern of life: alone five days a week to contemplate God and mortify his flesh, joining the other hermits for worship only on Saturdays and Sundays.

However, John left the Mar Saba in 503, when factious monks forced Sabas to abandon his monastery. At that time John’s disciple, Roubâ, lived with him. Roubâ, expecting fine food, wanted to celebrate Easter at the monastery. John, however, as a test of his obedience, said no:

Let us stay calm, brother, and have faith that he who nourished 600,000 in the desert for forty years will himself provide us with not only necessary nourishment but a surplus as well. . . . Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31–33 NJB).

Unconvinced . . . the brother departed . . . to the monastery. After his departure a man totally unknown came to the elder with . . . hot white loaves, wine, oil, fresh cheeses and eggs, and a jar of honey. He unloaded and went away . . . John rejoiced in spirit at this divine visitation, while the brother who had left, after losing his way. . . returned on the third day hungry and exhausted, having enjoyed the fruits of his own disobedience. When he found such good things in the cave, he recognized his own lack of faith and stubbornness and prostrated himself shamefacedly before the elder, begging to receive forgiveness. The elder, sympathizing with human weakness . . . raised him up and admonished him, saying: “Recognize precisely that God is able to prepare a table in the desert” (see Psalm 78:19).

Six years later, when the monks welcomed Sabas back, John also returned to the monastery. He lived forty more years in his coveted silent adoration and died in his hermitage at 104 years of age.

We live in a noisy world. Can you trust silence to fill you with hope?


1 My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,*
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
2 for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant;*
from this day all generations will call me blessed.
3 The Almighty has done great things for me* and holy is his name.
4 He has mercy on those who fear him* in every generation.
5 He has shown the strength of his arm;*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
6 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones*
and has lifted up the lowly.
7 He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
8 He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
9 the promise he made to our forebears,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.
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.

We have been afraid of the fierceness of your love, which sears our hearts as with a laser. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We have refused to believe that you are gentle in judgment, that your hands loosen the knots of our bitterness. Christ, have mercy upon us.
We have failed to see that your eyes are wise in discernment, that your justice restores us and heals. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Stir up your power, Lord, and come: that, with you as our protector, we may be rescued from our sins; and with you as our deliverer, we may be set free; for you live and reign with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 Lord God almighty, come and dispel the darkness from our hearts, that in the radiance of your brightness we may know you, the only unfading light, glorious in all eternity. Amen.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing:
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A priest and poet in the Scottish Episcopal Church, exploring the workings of the Holy Spirit in Banchory .