The Collect for Proper 24: The Sunday closest to October 19

Almighty and everlasting God,
in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations:
Preserve the works of your mercy,
that your Church throughout the world may persevere
with steadfast faith in the confession 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 235)

This Collect, which Marion Hatchett states has not been used in previous editions of the Prayer Book, is an ancient Collect that was traditionally used on Good Friday as the first in a set of nine Collects and has been used in the Good Friday liturgy from the late 7th century through the 11th century in parts of the British Isles.  The translation that we have has been adapted from William Bright’s Ancient Collects (Hatchett, 194).

The Preamble, “Almighty and everlasting God,” invites us to consider how God’s omnipotence and eternality are in view.  That is, how do we see the theological themes relating to God’s creation, restoration, and governance in this Collect?

The Acknowledgement, “in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations,” contains echoes from John 1:14-18, Hebrews 1:3, and Evening Prayer’s “The Song of Simeon (the Nunc dimittis, BCP 66, 120).  Because the Son became visible when he took on human flesh (Apostles’ Creed, BCP 96, 120, 304, and the Nicene Creed, BCP 358), God’s glory was made accessible to human eyes in ways that it hadn’t been visible before.   

The Petition, “Preserve the works of your mercy,” invites us to consider what are the works of God’s mercy that we ask to be preserved.  From the Acknowledgement of The Collect for Proper 21, God’s works of mercy and God’s power are both in full view in God’s self-giving love demonstrated in the Incarnation.  Eucharistic Prayer A provides us with a summary of this connection:  “Holy and gracious Father:  In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all” (BCP, 362).  This Petition asks God to be faithful to the redemptive and restorative work that God has chosen to do through the Church.  We are asking God to be who God is—to be faithful.  God is able to preserve this love and mercy toward us because God is eternal. 

The Aspiration, “that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name,” places our Petition within God’s mission of redemption and restoration of the world.  “Confession of [God’s] Name” is not merely saying that we affirm God’s existence (see Matthew 7:21-24), but living out the Baptismal Covenant (See BCP 304-8) through trusting in who God has revealed God’s self to be through Jesus.  A large part of persevering in the faith is cooperating with God by trusting in God’s faithfulness.  Through God’s merciful provision, we receive all that we need (The Collect for Proper 11), God mercifully sustains us and keeps us in the faith (The Collects for Proper 12 and Proper 16), and by guiding and directing our hearts (The Collect for Proper 19), God delivers us “from the disquietude of this world” so that our faith may increase (The Collect for the Feast of the Transfiguration).  By God’s merciful, preserving gift of grace, we are able to participate in “show[ing] forth God’s power among all peoples” through the unity of the Church (The Collect for Proper 16).

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen,” invites us to consider how all three persons of the Trinity are actively involved in not only revealing God’s glory among the nations but doing this through preserving our faith.

The pandemic has challenged us in many ways.  The old rhythms that guided how we live have been changed and it is easy to feel unmoored and adrift.  What have you found to be helpful in preserving your faith during this difficult time?  What has been helpful in preserving us as a parish?  What in particular do you experience as God’s works of mercy that have been preserved during this time?  How might our stories about God’s works of mercy during this time be used to reveal God’s gracious, faithful character to ourselves and to our neighbors?

Almighty and everlasting God,
in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations:
Preserve the works of your mercy,
that your Church throughout the world may persevere
with steadfast faith in the confession 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.

© 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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