Night Prayer

Night Prayer

Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book, He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (Auckland: William Collins Publishers Ltd., 1989), pp. 167-186. This is a Christian service of prayer, and we Christians will hear many of its expressions as pointing to God’s communion with us in Jesus of Nazareth: “Light of the world,” “Living Word,” “Beloved,” “Wisdom,” “Pain-Bearer.” In fact, for us the story of Jesus breathes new life into all of these expressions. We trust that this is a good thing, though we have too often used it to do harm. We also trust that it is a good thing when others join us in this service and hear these and other expressions in terms that make sense to them out of their own lives. Others may hear them as pointing simply to God, or hear them as pointing to a Mystery that even the word “God” cannot encompass. And why not? Again, it is an ancient Christian conviction (and not only Christian) that God comes to us on our own terms in order to stretch them and us beyond the limits of business as usual. So hear and speak these words in whatever way makes any sense to you, and expect to be stretched.—Fr. Charles

The people speak the words in boldface.

Approach

The messengers of God guard us through the night,
and quiet the powers of darkness.

The Spirit of God be our guide
to lead us to peace and to glory.

It is but lost labor that we haste to rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of anxiety. For those beloved of God are given gifts even while they sleep.

(silence)

Our help is in the name of the eternal God,
who is making the heavens and the earth.

God, thank you for all that is good, for our creation and our humanity, for the stewardship you have given us of this planet earth, for the gifts of life and of one another, for your love which is unbounded and eternal.

O most holy and beloved Companion, our guide upon the way, our bright evening star,

We repent the wrongs we have done:

(silence)

We have wounded your love.
O God, heal us.

We stumble in the darkness.
Light of the world transfigure us.

We forget that we are your home.
Spirit of God, dwell in us.

Eternal Spirit, living God, in whom we live and move and have our being, all that we are, have been, and may be is known to you, to the very secret of our hearts and all that rises to trouble us. Living flame, burn into us, cleansing wind, blow through us, fountain of water, well up within us, that we may love and praise in deed and in truth.

Invocation

Eternal Spirit, flow through our being and open our lips,
that our mouths may proclaim your praise.

Let us worship the God of love.
Alleluia, alleluia. (omitted during Lent)

Psalm: The following or some other psalm may be said

Psalm 134 Ecce nunc
1 Behold now, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, *you that stand by night in the house of the LORD.
2 Lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the LORD; *the LORD who made heaven and earth bless you out of Zion.
The psalm concludes with:
Praise to the Eternal, the Living Word and the Giver of Life:
As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.

Reading: One of the following or some other reading may be used

Wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and permeates all things. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with Wisdom. She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against Wisdom evil does not prevail. Wisdom of Solomon 7:24-30 

Thanks be to God.

Lord, you are in the midst of us, and we are called by your Name: Do not forsake us, O Lord our God. Jeremiah 14:9,22

Thanks be to God.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Thanks be to God.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:18-20

Thanks be to God.

Hymn

Prayers

Into your hands, O God, I commend my spirit,
for you have redeemed me, O God of truth and love.
Keep me, O God, as the apple of an eye;
hide me under the shadow of your wings.

Preserve us, O God, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with your Beloved, and asleep may rest in your peace.

Song of Simeon

Praise be to God, I have lived to see this day. God’s promise is fulfilled, and my duty done. At last you have given me peace, for I have seen with my own eyes the salvation you have prepared for all nations - a light to the world in its darkness and the glory of your people Israel.

Praise to the Eternal, the Living Word and the Giver of Life:
As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.

Preserve us, O God, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with your Beloved, and asleep may rest in your peace.

Lord, have mercy.
Wisdom, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Lord’s Prayer

Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be, Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven: The hallowing of your name echo through the universe! The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world! Your heavenly will be done by all created beings! Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth. With the bread we need for today, feed us. In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us. In times of temptation and test, strengthen us. From trials too great to endure, spare us. From the grip of all that is evil, free us. For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. Amen.

I will lie down in peace and take my rest,
for it is in God alone that I dwell unafraid.
Let us bless the Earth-maker, the Pain-bearer, the Life-giver,
let us praise and exalt God above all for ever.
May God’s name be praised beyond the furthest star,
glorified and exalted above all for ever.

Living Word, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done. Let it be. The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities. In your name we pray. Amen

Blessing, light, and glory surround us and scatter the darkness of every long and lonely night. Amen

Holy Eternal Majesty, Holy Living Word, Holy Abiding Spirit bless us forever more. Amen

The divine Spirit dwells in us.
Thanks be to God.