The Collect for Proper 16: The Sunday closest to August 24

Grant, O merciful God,
that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit,
may show forth your power among all peoples,
to the glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 232-3)

Marion Hatchett states that this Collect, originally composed for use on Tuesday in the week after Whitsunday (Pentecost) in the 1928 BCP, is derived from a 7th century Collect used for the Friday after Whitsunday.  Why the 1928 Collect’s petition for the church to be protected from being “disturbed by the assault of the enemy” has a significant change in focus with “may show forth [God’s] power among all peoples” and why the Collect was moved from the week of Pentecost to Proper 16 was not mentioned (Hatchett, 191).

The Preamble, “O merciful God,” like the Collect for Proper 10, does not have a separate Acknowledgement, but the Preamble’s description of God as merciful serves this function.  The description of God as merciful invites us to consider what in the Petition either depends upon or shows forth God’s mercy.

The Petition, “Grant … that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples,” declares that the Holy Spirit’s work, begun at baptism, continues as the mission of the Church.  Through baptism, we each are sealed by the Holy Spirit and initiated into Christ’s Body the Church (Baptism, BCP 298).  In the service of Holy Baptism, we proclaim together that “There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, One God and Father of all” (BCP 299, see Ephesians 4:1-16).  In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays that the Church will be one as he and the Father are one—the unity of the Church is both a gift from and a reflection of the divine life of the Trinity.  By God’s merciful grace, we have the potential to become united; when we are at unity with each other and God, we most clearly demonstrate God’s power to others.  To unify the diverse members of the Body of Christ, allowing each true liberty without imposing uniformity, so that our hearts, minds, and wills are united in love of God and neighbor will be an amazing work of power!

The Aspiration, “to the glory of your Name,” gives the desired outcome of this petition:  that our lives, woven together through the grace of the Holy Spirit, will not only show forth God’s power, but will bring glory to God. 

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen”, ends our prayer on the theme of the unity of the Trinity that our lives together are to reflect. 

In this season after Pentecost, the focus of the Church Year is on the work of the Holy Spirit to direct and empower the mission of the Church.  Consider a time when the parish has had to make a major decision that resulted in a new or renewed sense of unity.  What did living into the unifying power of the Holy Spirit feel and look like?  How was God glorified through the unity of the parish? 

We have been praying for clarity of vision as a Diocese.  Based on these prayers, what might unity feel and look like? 

Grant, O merciful God,
that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit,
may show forth your power among all peoples,
to the glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 232-3)

© 2021 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick
The citations from Marion Hatchett are from his Commentary on the American Prayer Book, HarperOne, 1995
Page references to The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) are from the 1979 standard edition.

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