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)

Historical introduction:  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.[1]  Marion 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.”[2]

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) and that God, as the creator of time, is outside of time itself. 

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.

For your consideration:

What good works have you participated in in the past?  What were the good works that we did as a parish in the past?  How did God work through us in the past?

As we approach the end of the Church Year and begin thinking about reflecting upon the past year’s work of the parish, what were the good works God gave to us to do that you expect to read about in (or write about for!) next year’s Annual Report? 

What good works do you think God has prepared for us—and is preparing us to do—this coming year?

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.

© 2022 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick


[1] Marshall notes that this move from the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity to Proper 23 happened with our 1979 BCP.  Paul V. Marshall, Prayer Book Parallels (New York:  Church Publishing, 1990) II.104-5.

[2] Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book, (New York:  Harper Collins, 1995), 193.

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