Friday 26 March

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us
that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters
we do also for you:
give us the will to be the servant of others
as you were the servant of all,
and gave up your life and died for us,
but are alive and reign, now and for ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 24
The Lord showed me two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. This was after King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the artisans, and the smiths, and had brought them to Babylon. One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. And the Lord said to me, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ I said, ‘Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.’
 Then the word of the Lord came to me: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
 But thus says the Lord: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who live in the land of Egypt. I will make them a horror, an evil thing, to all the kingdoms of the earth—a disgrace, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they are utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their ancestors.

Psalm 22
    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,
   and are so far from my salvation,
      from the words of my distress?
    O my God, I cry in the daytime,
      but you do not answer;
   and by night also, but I find no rest.
    Yet you are the Holy One,
   enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
    Our forebears trusted in you;
   they trusted, and you delivered them.
    They cried out to you and were delivered;
   they put their trust in you and were not confounded.
    But as for me, I am a worm and no man,
   scorned by all and despised by the people.
    All who see me laugh me to scorn;
   they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,
    ‘He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him;
   let him deliver him, if he delights in him.’
    But it is you that took me out of the womb
   and laid me safe upon my mother’s breast.
      On you was I cast ever since I was born;
   you are my God even from my mother’s womb.
      Be not far from me, for trouble is near at hand
   and there is none to help.
      Mighty oxen come around me;
   fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side.
      They gape upon me with their mouths,
   as it were a ramping and a roaring lion.
      I am poured out like water;
      all my bones are out of joint;
   my heart has become like wax
      melting in the depths of my body.
      My mouth is dried up like a potsherd;
      my tongue cleaves to my gums;
   you have laid me in the dust of death.
      For the hounds are all about me,
      the pack of evildoers close in on me;
   they pierce my hands and my feet.
      I can count all my bones;
   they stand staring and looking upon me.
      They divide my garments among them;
   they cast lots for my clothing.
      Be not far from me, O Lord;
   you are my strength; hasten to help me.
      Deliver my soul from the sword,
   my poor life from the power of the dog.
      Save me from the lion’s mouth,
      from the horns of wild oxen.
   You have answered me!
      I will tell of your name to my people;
   in the midst of the congregation will I praise you.
      Praise the Lord, you that fear him;
   O seed of Jacob, glorify him;
      stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel.
      For he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor;
      neither has he hidden his face from them;
   but when they cried to him he heard them.
      From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
   I will perform my vows
      in the presence of those that fear you.
      The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
   those who seek the Lord shall praise him;
      their hearts shall live for ever.
      All the ends of the earth
      shall remember and turn to the Lord,
   and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
      For the kingdom is the Lord’s
   and he rules over the nations.
      How can those who sleep in the earth
      bow down in worship,
   or those who go down to the dust kneel before him?
      He has saved my life for himself;
      my descendants shall serve him;
   this shall be told of the Lord for generations to come.
      They shall come and make known his salvation,
      to a people yet unborn,
   declaring that he, the Lord, has done it.