The Collect for Proper 20: The Sunday closest to September 21

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly;
and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away,
to hold fast to those that shall endure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 234)

According to Marion Hatchett, this Collect from the 7th-century Roman sacramentary is first used by Anglicans in our 1979 BCP.  The biblical foundation is Colossians 3:2 and Hatchett places the context of the writing of this Collect in the tumult caused by military invasions experienced by the author of the Collect’s community.  The English translation of this Collect is from William Bright’s Ancient Collects (Hatchett, 192).

This Collect has the minimum sections, having neither an Acknowledgement nor an Aspiration.  The Preamble, “Lord,” is also minimalistic; given the context and the request in the Petition, the terse Preamble provides a sense of urgency.

The Petition, “Grant us … not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure,” is a request for grace to live into the Aspiration of The Collect for Proper 12.  This Petition is also an expression of living into the instructions found in Philippians 4:6-7:  “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NRSV).  Focusing our minds on “things above” (heavenly things) rather than earthly things that are temporary, especially in the midst of trouble or disasters, is hard work even with God’s grace.  This difficult practice of refocusing our attention from the things that are passing away to loving those things which are eternal is the way of finding peace and hope in any circumstance.

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen,” directs our prayer to the fullness of the Trinity who care deeply for us.

How has God given you grace to focus your love on eternal things during this time?  What enduring things has God brought to your heart that have allowed you to be less anxious about the unsettling time in which we are now living?

How have we, as a parish, worked to keep our love focused on things heavenly, even while we are experiencing changes in how we worship and are together?  What are the things that shall endure that give us, as a parish, hope and peace?

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly;
and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away,
to hold fast to those that shall endure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 234)

© 2021 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick
The citations from Marion Hatchett are from his Commentary on the American Prayer Book, HarperOne, 1995
Quotations and page references to The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) are from the 1979 standard edition. 
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

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