Wednesday 3 March

Almighty God,
you show to those who are in error the light of your truth,
that they may return to the way of righteousness:
grant to all those who are admitted
   into the fellowship of Christ’s religion,
that they may reject those things
   that are contrary to their profession,
and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same;
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 8.18–9.11
 My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
   my heart is sick.
 Hark, the cry of my poor people
   from far and wide in the land:
‘Is the Lord not in Zion?
   Is her King not in her?’
(‘Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,
   with their foreign idols?’)
 ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
   and we are not saved.’
 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
   I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
 Is there no balm in Gilead?
   Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
   not been restored?
O that my head were a spring of water,
   and my eyes a fountain of tears,
so that I might weep day and night
   for the slain of my poor people!
 O that I had in the desert
   a traveller’s lodging-place,
that I might leave my people
   and go away from them!
For they are all adulterers,
   a band of traitors.
 They bend their tongues like bows;
   they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth;
for they proceed from evil to evil,
   and they do not know me, says the Lord.
 Beware of your neighbours,
   and put no trust in any of your kin;
for all your kin are supplanters,
   and every neighbour goes around like a slanderer.
 They all deceive their neighbours,
   and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongues to speak lies;
   they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent.
 Oppression upon oppression, deceit upon deceit!
   They refuse to know me, says the Lord.
 Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts:
I will now refine and test them,
   for what else can I do with my sinful people?
 Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
   it speaks deceit through the mouth.
They all speak friendly words to their neighbours,
   but inwardly are planning to lay an ambush.
 Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord;
   and shall I not bring retribution
   on a nation such as this?
 Take up weeping and wailing for the mountains,
   and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness,
because they are laid waste so that no one passes through,
   and the lowing of cattle is not heard;
both the birds of the air and the animals
   have fled and are gone.
11 I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
   a lair of jackals;
and I will make the towns of Judah a desolation
   without inhabitant.

Psalm 35
    Contend, O Lord, with those that contend with me;
   fight against those that fight against me.
    Take up shield and buckler
   and rise up to help me.
    Draw the spear and bar the way
      against those who pursue me;
   say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’
    Let those who seek after my life be shamed and disgraced;
   let those who plot my ruin fall back and be put to confusion.
    Let them be as chaff before the wind,
   with the angel of the Lord thrusting them down.
    Let their way be dark and slippery,
   with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
    For they have secretly spread a net for me without a cause;
   without any cause they have dug a pit for my soul.
    Let ruin come upon them unawares;
   let them be caught in the net they laid;
      let them fall in it to their destruction.
    Then will my soul be joyful in the Lord
   and glory in his salvation.
      My very bones will say, ‘Lord, who is like you?
   You deliver the poor from those that are too strong for them,
      the poor and needy from those who would despoil them.’
      False witnesses rose up against me;
   they charged me with things I knew not.
      They rewarded me evil for good,
   to the desolation of my soul.
      But as for me, when they were sick I put on sackcloth
   and humbled myself with fasting;
      When my prayer returned empty to my bosom,
   it was as though I grieved for my friend or brother;
      I behaved as one who mourns for his mother,
   bowed down and brought very low.
      But when I stumbled, they gathered in delight;
      they gathered together against me;
   as if they were strangers I did not know
      they tore at me without ceasing.
      When I fell they mocked me;
   they gnashed at me with their teeth.
      O Lord, how long will you look on?
   Rescue my soul from their ravages,
      and my poor life from the young lions.
      I will give you thanks in the great congregation;
   I will praise you in the mighty throng.
      Do not let my treacherous foes rejoice over me,
   or those who hate me without a cause
      mock me with their glances.
      For they do not speak of peace,
   but invent deceitful schemes against those that are quiet in the land.
      They opened wide their mouths and derided me, saying
   ‘We have seen it with our very eyes.’
      This you have seen, O Lord; do not keep silent;
   go not far from me, O Lord.
      Awake, arise, to my cause,
   to my defence, my God and my Lord!
      Give me justice, O Lord my God,
      according to your righteousness;
   let them not triumph over me.
      Let them not say to themselves,
      ‘Our heart’s desire!’
   Let them not say, ‘We have swallowed him up.’
      Let all who rejoice at my trouble be put to shame and confusion;
   let those who boast against me
      be clothed with shame and dishonour.
      Let those who favour my cause rejoice and be glad;
   let them say always,
      ‘Great is the Lord, who delights in his servant’s well-being.’
      So shall my tongue be talking of your righteousness
   and of your praise all the day long.