The Collect for Proper 23: The Sunday closest to October 12

Lord,
we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us,
that we may continually be given to good works;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(BCP 234-5)

According to Marion Hatchett, this Collect was used for mornings or evenings in the late 7th century, and was used in the Sarum missal for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, according to our reckoning of time.  Hatchett succinctly states that “[t]he prayer is for grace which anticipates us [‘prevenient’ grace] as well as grace which accompanies us [‘cooperating’ grace] that we may be continually dedicated to good works” (Hatchett, 193).

The Preamble, “Lord,” invites us to consider whether we address God as the one who is Sovereign over all of creation or our God who covenants with us and has revealed God’s name to us (Lord).

While this Collect does not have an explicit Acknowledgement, it seems to me that this Collect’s Petition rests upon the foundation that we are always in God’s presence, known intimately by God and loved from before all time (Psalm 139). 

The Petition, “we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us,” is how one might succinctly pray that God do for us what is described in Psalm 23:  that God will lead, guard, and be with us in all circumstances.

The Aspiration, “that we may continually be given to good works,” is connected to the Petition with its implicit Acknowledgment through Ephesians 2:8-10:  we were created in Christ for doing good works, and these good works have been prepared in advance by God for us to do.

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen,” echoes Ephesians 2:10 (we were created in Christ) and connects our empowerment for doing these good works that God prepared for us to do through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Note:  In the Friday Litany for our parish, we pray excerpts from Saint Patrick’s Breastplate (Hymnal 1982, #370), including the section in which we affirm that Christ precedes and follows us. 

Before the pandemic, what good works were you involved in doing?  What were the good works that we did as a parish?  The pandemic has changed much of what we are able to do, but God’s grace that precedes and follows continues to enable us to do good works.  During the pandemic, what good works have you been doing?  What are the good works that we as a parish have been doing during the pandemic?  What good works do you think God has prepared for us—and is preparing us to do—through this time of pandemic?

Lord,
we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us,
that we may continually be given to good works;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

© 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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