The Collect for Proper 5: The Sunday closest to June 8

O God, from whom all good proceeds:
Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right,
and by your merciful guiding may do them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 229)

Up until this Sunday, all Sundays have been described based upon the current Church season (like the First Sunday of Advent, which is the beginning of the Church Year), a particular Feast (like Pentecost), or by counting the number of Sundays after a particular Feast (like the First Sunday after Easter) (see BCP 211-228).  Until our current 1979 BCP, the Episcopal Church used the method found in the Sarum Missal of counting Sundays between the end of the Season of Easter and the beginning of Advent by referring to the number of Sundays after Trinity Sunday.  (Cross and Livingston, eds, “Trinity Sunday,” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed., 1654).  With our current BCP, we count the Sundays after Pentecost instead as a sign of unity with other denominations.  

This Sunday is the Second Sunday after Pentecost (the first Sunday after Trinity Sunday), yet the Collect is “the Collect for Proper 5.”  For those who are interested in the titles for the Collects during The Season after Pentecost, I’ve included a brief explanation at the end of the meditation.

This Collect had been used for the Fifth Sunday after Easter as early as the 8th century and this practice continued into early Prayer Books; Marion Hatchett states that those who selected the Collects for BCP 1979 thought that this Collect better serves the Church in this Season (Hatchett, 187).

The Preamble, “O God,” does not provide us with additional information. 

The Acknowledgement, “from whom all good proceeds,” when read through the lens of Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 with Matthew 7:7-11 and James 1:7, reminds us that God, who is good, provides us with everything that is good.  Knowing that all good proceeds from God provides us with another source of confidence about how God will answer our petitions.

The Petition, “Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them,” can be read as a prayer for grace to live into Romans 12:1-2:  “I [, Paul,] appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (NRSV). 

The first half of the Petition, “Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right” is a request that God graciously breathe into our minds ideas, ways of thinking, and even thoughts themselves that are in agreement with God’s way of thinking. 

The second half of the Petition, “and by your merciful guiding may do them” asks for the grace to discern how to live according to the good thoughts that God has given us.  Through God’s grace, living in harmony with God by intentionally applying God’s gifts of good thoughts, words, and deeds, we live into our baptism. 

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen,” reminds us that our prayers are mediated to the Holy Trinity through Jesus Christ, and that all good gifts are worked into our lives through the Holy Spirit.

How do we recognize those inspirations that are from God?

What new ideas for how we might live, worship, and serve others as a parish have come to you during this time of pandemic?  How have we as a parish experienced God’s guidance in the past?  What do you think we will experience as God guides us in our discernment of our post-pandemic common life?

O God, from whom all good proceeds:
Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right,
and by your merciful guiding may do them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 229)

The Naming of Collects in The Season after Pentecost

Each of our worship services (liturgies) is composed of two parts:  that which is or can be used every service (the ordinary) and that which is used based upon the Church Calendar, which is the proper.  The propers for a given day include the Collect, the biblical readings, and the Preface which is part of the eucharistic prayer. 

Between the First Sunday of Advent and the Day of Pentecost, the names of the propers, including the Collects, reflect the season (Second Sunday after Christmas, First Sunday after the Epiphany, etc.) or the day (Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, etc.).  During the long season after Pentecost, the propers are numbered and associated with a date from the civil calendar.  For example, Proper 5 is used for “The Sunday closest to June 8” and the week following in the Daily Office. 

With respect to the number:  the Church Year can be thought of as hinging on two Principle Feasts:  Easter Day and Christmas Day.  Christmas Day is fix based upon the civil (solar) calendar, December 25.  The date of Easter is set based upon the lunar calendar and is “the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after March 21” which is not “before March 22 or after April 25” (BCP 15, see also BCP 880).  The Day of Pentecost is always seven Sundays (the 50th day) after Easter Day and thus falls between May 10 and June 13.  Because the civil date on which the Day of Pentecost falls varies from year to year, they have a civil date associated with them.  To further differentiate between the Collects, they are numbered sequentially, beginning with Proper 1.  Why these Collects have both numbers and associated civil dates are included is probably buried in a reference work I haven’t found yet. 

To accommodate how Easter Day shifts relative to Christmas Day, two seasons of the Church Year have variable lengths:  Epiphany Season and The Season after Pentecost.  In both of these variable seasons, some propers are designed to be omitted as necessary.  In the shorter season of Epiphany, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday is always “the Last Sunday after the Epiphany,” with each Collect designated by how many Sundays it is since the Epiphany.  The BCP provides nine Collects to accommodate the longest possible season between the Epiphany and Lent. 

Towards the end of the Season after Pentecost, the Church Year begins a gentle transition that prepares us for the season of Advent, culminating in Proper 29, which has the theme of Christ the King.  The readings and Collects at the beginning of Pentecost were selected so that their omission doesn’t short-change our formation and our prayers. 

Since we have Collects for the feasts of the Day of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, and since these Collects for these feasts are used only on those days, we need two more Collects for the Daily Office than we need for Sunday services.  While we never get to hear the Collects for Proper 1 and Proper 2 prayed in Sunday services, in those years with the earliest civil date of Easter Day, these Collects are used in Morning and Evening Prayer. 

For more information, see https://www.episcopalchurch.org/glossary/proper/ and https://www.episcopalchurch.org/calendar-church-year/

© 2021 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick

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