Friday, October 07 2022
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I love collects. Church collects are the prayer that begins every Sunday service after the priest says “the Lord be with you,” and the congregation responds “and also with you.” The priest then says, “let us pray…” and there follows the prayer for that day and the following week: that prayer is called a collect. Us clergy and laity who pray the Daily Office (Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer or Night Prayer, also called Compline) say that collect prayer throughout the week as well, so we get to know the prayer really well, potentially saying it up to fifteen times! Collects usually follow a particular formula: naming God, thanking God for something, and asking God for something else. Then the prayer concludes with a trinintarian tribute to the Almighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Collects typically tie in the themes for the Sunday Eucharistic readings or incorporate the time of year. This past Sunday gives a prayer that continues until tomorrow, which to me outranks every other prayer; of all 52 weeks of the year: every holy day, saint day, Christmas and Easter, no… in my opinion, this prayer takes the cake.
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Oh. My. Goodness. This prayer captures my entire theology in one prayer! For my chalice article this week, I would like to pull apart this collect. It starts off with a simple title for the divine: Almighty and everlasting God. We acknowledge God being all powerful and existing outside of time. The collect names God as always more ready to hear than we to pray. This prayer just named that God will always be with us, always stand by us, always be present - despite whether we're calling out to God or not! God is always ready, on standby if you will. God is STEADFAST.
Give[s] more than we either desire or deserve. God is overflowing with blessings. God’s generosity does not stop with what we need. God continues to give us, even when we stop asking. God does not work on merit. God is ABUNDANT.
Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy. I love that language. That phrase: pour upon us. It gives me the imagery of God’s gift of water. I think back to a few weeks ago when Fr. Duncan baptized one of God’s littlest creations and he poured from the carafe the warm, living water that would be used to bring a child into God’s family. It’s not enough that God is merciful. God saturates us with forgiveness. God gives us a wide berth. God knows we are trying our best because God is COMPASSIONATE.
Forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask. God is aware of shame existing in our society. I truly believe God condemns shame. One should not have to be in fear of God not forgiving us, even the most egregious offenses, if we truly lament. God is not a punisher; God will not allow us to feel we are unworthy of asking for something because of our sins and transgressions. God loves you UNCONDITIONALLY.
One of my Lenten practices that I think is relatable to us through this article is the spiritual practice of writing a collect. Name God, thank God for something God did for you or helped you realize recently, and ask God for that thing that you may be afraid to name. Let your recent unfolded life inform your prayer language and may you be transformed by the beauty of words which God has given you, to share back with God.
The gifts of God for the people of God, given back to God, to the glory of God. As you continue to discern your stewardship areas to God’s church of time, talent, and treasure, may you continue and in a deeper way experience God’s steadfastness, abundance, compassion, and unconditional love each day going forward.
God loves you, St. John’s loves you, and your clergy love you.
Your sibling in Christ,