O Lord our God,
make us watchful and keep us faithful
as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;
that, when he shall appear,
he may not find us sleeping in sin
but active in his service
and joyful in his praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Isaiah 44.24 – 45.13
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who by myself spread out the earth;
who frustrates the omens of liars,
and makes fools of diviners;
who turns back the wise,
and makes their knowledge foolish;
who confirms the word of his servant,
and fulfils the prediction of his messengers;
who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited’,
and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,
and I will raise up their ruins’;
who says to the deep, ‘Be dry—
I will dry up your rivers’;
who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
and he shall carry out all my purpose’;
and who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be rebuilt’,
and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped
to subdue nations before him
and strip kings of their robes,
to open doors before him—
and the gates shall not be closed:
I will go before you
and level the mountains,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
and cut through the bars of iron,
I will give you the treasures of darkness
and riches hidden in secret places,
so that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
For the sake of my servant Jacob,
and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
I surname you, though you do not know me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
besides me there is no god.
I arm you, though you do not know me,
so that they may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is no one besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make weal and create woe;
I the Lord do all these things.
Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation may spring up,
and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also;
I the Lord have created it.
Woe to you who strive with your Maker,
earthen vessels with the potter!
Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to anyone who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labour?’
Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Will you question me about my children,
or command me concerning the work of my hands?
I made the earth,
and created humankind upon it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness,
and I will make all his paths straight;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,
says the Lord of hosts.
Why stand so far off, O Lord?
Why hide yourself in time of trouble?
The wicked in their pride persecute the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
The wicked boast of their heart’s desire;
the covetous curse and revile the Lord.
The wicked in their arrogance say, ‘God will not avenge it’;
in all their scheming God counts for nothing.
They are stubborn in all their ways,
for your judgements are far above out of their sight;
they scoff at all their adversaries.
They say in their heart, ‘I shall not be shaken;
no harm shall ever happen to me.’
Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit and fraud;
under their tongue lie mischief and wrong.
They lurk in the outskirts
and in dark alleys they murder the innocent;
their eyes are ever watching for the helpless.
They lie in wait, like a lion in his den;
they lie in wait to seize the poor;
they seize the poor when they get them into their net.
The innocent are broken and humbled before them;
the helpless fall before their power.
They say in their heart, ‘God has forgotten;
he hides his face away; he will never see it.’
Arise, O Lord God, and lift up your hand;
forget not the poor.
Why should the wicked be scornful of God?
Why should they say in their hearts, ‘You will not avenge it’?
Surely, you behold trouble and misery;
you see it and take it into your own hand.
The helpless commit themselves to you,
for you are the helper of the orphan.
Break the power of the wicked and malicious;
search out their wickedness until you find none.
The Lord shall reign for ever and ever;
the nations shall perish from his land.
Lord, you will hear the desire of the poor;
you will incline your ear to the fullness of their heart,
To give justice to the orphan and oppressed,
so that people are no longer driven in terror from the land.