The Collect for Easter Day

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy:
Grant us so to die daily to sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
(BCP, 222)

This Collect, which dates from at least the late 8th century, provides a transition from our Holy Week meditation on Christ’s passion to his glorious resurrection (Hatchett, 178-179).  The hard work of entering into Holy Week as fully as we are able prepares us for joyfully entering into Christ’s Easter victory over sin and death!

What follows is a dissection of the Collect using the five parts described in the introduction.

The Acknowledgement of this Collect focuses on half of the central message of the Good News:  “God, who for our redemption gave [his] only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his [Son’s] glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy.”  In this powerful summary our attention is focused on the Father’s love for us—as we heard in the Exultet, “how wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God,  is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son” (Easter Vigil, BCP 287). 

One of the great mysteries of our faith is that by taking on all that it means to be human, the Son is not only able to die, but dies on our behalf so that as he rises from the dead, we too will be raised, free from the power of death (1 Corinthians 15:1-5, 20-28). 

Our redemption, that is, “the act of God which sets us free from the power of evil, sin, and death” (Catechism:  Sin and Redemption, BCP, 485), was bought with a terrible price.  The cost of our redemption shows both the severity of humanity’s situation and the love that the Father and the Son have for humanity.  Here the loving-kindness and mercy that we heard sung in the Exultet is on full display.

The Petition, “Grant us so to die daily to sin” gives us both our appropriate response—“die daily to sin”—and the means by which we are able to comply with this expectation—God’s empowerment to do what we are called to do.  Our daily dying to sin began at baptism through which we—mysteriously, sacramentally, and somehow really—participate in Christ’s death through the waters of baptism (Romans 6:1-12).  In the petition, we are recognizing that the work of living into our baptism is ongoing.

Sin is “the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation” (Catechism:  Sin and Redemption, BCP, 484).  To die daily to sin is a shorthand notation that calls us to live into our baptismal vows of renouncing “Satan and spiritual forces that rebel against God,” “evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God,” and “all sinful desires that draw [us] from the love of God” trusting that God will answer our prayers to “deliver [us] … from the way of sin and death” (Holy Baptism, BCP 302, 305)

The Aspiration, “that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection” provides us with the second half of the central message of the Good News of God in Jesus Christ:  eternal life, in joy, with Jesus and, through Jesus, with the Father and the Spirit!  In baptism, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us to “Open [our] hearts to [God’s] grace and truth,” “fill [us] with [God’s] holy and life-giving Spirit,” “keep [us] in the faith and communion of [God’s] holy Church,” and “teach [us] to love others in the power of the Spirit” (Holy Baptism, BCP 305).  Living into the joy of Christ’s resurrection began at baptism and continues into eternity, and this living requires that we die to everything in our daily lives that tempts us to not live in this joy.

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever,” helps us to hear, if we haven’t already heard, that all three persons of the Holy Trinity are involved in the prayer, even if one of them isn’t named explicitly.

What, in the past, has God called you to die to so that you could live into the joy of Christ’s resurrection?  What did it feel like to recognize that you were attached to something or someone and needed to let go?  What has living in the joy of the resurrection felt like in your life as a result of dying to that sin? 

To what has God called this parish to die?  What did living with Christ in the joy of his resurrection look like for the parish as a result of dying to sin?

What do you think God might be calling you to die to today?  What might God be calling the parish to die to as we consider what parish life might look like in the months and years to come?  Based upon your experiences with dying to sin and living with Christ in his resurrection in your life and the life of the parish, is it possible to enter into this next phase of daily dying to sin with anticipation of the joy of a closer life with Christ?

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy:
Grant us so to die daily to sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
(BCP, 222)

© 2021 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick

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