Thursday 11 February

Almighty God,
give us reverence for all creation
and respect for every person,
that we may mirror your likeness
in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Ecclesiastes 9
All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate one does not know. Everything that confronts them is vanity, since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those who shun an oath. This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun.
 Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all. For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.
 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed important to me. There was a little city with few people in it. A great king came against it and besieged it, building great siege-works against it. Now there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, ‘Wisdom is better than might; yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded.’
 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
   than the shouting of a ruler among fools.
 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
   but one bungler destroys much good.

Psalm 37
    Fret not because of evildoers;
   be not jealous of those who do wrong.
    For they shall soon wither like grass
   and like the green herb fade away.
    Trust in the Lord and be doing good;
   dwell in the land and be nourished with truth.
    Let your delight be in the Lord
   and he will give you your heart’s desire.
    Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him,
   and he will bring it to pass.
    He will make your righteousness as clear as the light
   and your just dealing as the noonday.
    Be still before the Lord and wait for him;
   do not fret over those that prosper
      as they follow their evil schemes.
    Refrain from anger and abandon wrath;
   do not fret, lest you be moved to do evil.
    For evildoers shall be cut off,
   but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.
      Yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
   you will search for their place and find them gone.
      But the lowly shall possess the land
   and shall delight in abundance of peace.
      The wicked plot against the righteous
   and gnash at them with their teeth.
      The Lord shall laugh at the wicked,
   for he sees that their day is coming.
      The wicked draw their sword and bend their bow
      to strike down the poor and needy,
   to slaughter those who walk in truth.
      Their sword shall go through their own heart
   and their bows shall be broken.
      The little that the righteous have
   is better than great riches of the wicked.
      For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
   but the Lord upholds the righteous.
      The Lord knows the days of the godly,
   and their inheritance shall stand for ever.
      They shall not be put to shame in the perilous time,
   and in days of famine they shall have enough.
      But the wicked shall perish;
      like the glory of the meadows
      the enemies of the Lord shall vanish;
   they shall vanish like smoke.
      The wicked borrow and do not repay,
   but the righteous are generous in giving.
      For those who are blest by God shall possess the land,
   but those who are cursed by him shall be rooted out.
      When your steps are guided by the Lord
   and you delight in his way,
      Though you stumble, you shall not fall headlong,
   for the Lord holds you fast by the hand.
      I have been young and now am old,
   yet never have I seen the righteous forsaken,
      or their children begging their bread.
      All the day long they are generous in lending,
   and their children also shall be blest.
      Depart from evil and do good
   and you shall abide for ever.
      For the Lord loves the thing that is right
   and will not forsake his faithful ones.
      The unjust shall be destroyed for ever,
   and the offspring of the wicked shall be rooted out.
      The righteous shall possess the land
   and dwell in it for ever.
      The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
   and their tongue speaks the thing that is right.
      The law of their God is in their heart
   and their footsteps shall not slide.
      The wicked spy on the righteous
   and seek occasion to slay them.
      The Lord will not leave them in their hand,
   nor let them be condemned when they are judged.
      Wait upon the Lord and keep his way;
   he will raise you up to possess the land,
      and when the wicked are uprooted, you shall see it.
      I myself have seen the wicked in great power
   and flourishing like a tree in full leaf.
      I went by and lo, they were gone;
   I sought them, but they could nowhere be found.
      Keep innocence and heed the thing that is right,
   for that will bring you peace at the last.
      But the sinners shall perish together,
   and the posterity of the wicked shall be rooted out.
      The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
   he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
      The Lord shall stand by them and deliver them;
   he shall deliver them from the wicked and shall save them,
      because they have put their trust in him.