The Collect for Proper 7: The Sunday closest to June 22

O Lord,
make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name,
for you never fail to help and govern
those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 230)

This Collect dates back to the 8th century sacramentary from Gaul and continued to appear in the 11th century Sarum (from Salisbury) missal and early Books of Common Prayer for the second Sunday after Trinity Sunday.  The 1662 BCP expanded the Collect; the 1979 version of the Collect is closer to the original use.  “‘Name’ carries the idea of God’s self-revelation.”  (Hatchett, 187-8).

The Preamble, “O Lord,” is the same as last week.  With God as the one who governs us, the same concept of God as sovereign is, like last week, a possible understanding for this way of speaking of God.  Last week’s Collect set up a tension between God as sovereign and God as head of the household.  While this week’s Collect continues the theme of God our governor, a different meaning for “Lord” is in view here.  If we read “Lord” as the English translation of God’s revealed name (see Exodus 3)—written in Hebrew as four consonants.  The practice of the Jews has been to write the vowels of “Adonai” (which in English means “my Lord”) in the Hebrew text and to read the name of God as Adonai.  In our English Bibles, following the Jewish tradition, when these four consonants occur as God’s name, we see Lord (capital L with small capital letters for “ord”) as the English translation.  This understanding of the use of Lord in the Preamble fits better with the Petition, in which “Name” has the sense of God’s self-revelation. 

While we have been used to praying the Acknowledgement before the Petition, in this Collect the order is reversed.  The Petition, “Make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name” provides us not only the appropriate emotional response to God’s self-revelation but also the implicit statement that we need God’s grace to have this appropriate emotional orientation toward God from now through eternity. 

Asking God to make us love God’s self may seem like a strange request, but it is no stranger than God needing to command humanity to do just this – to love God with our whole being (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37).  God has first loved us (1 John 4:10); in last week’s Collect we prayed for God to keep the Church in God’s steadfast faith and love.  Our response is to return this love:  in our Baptismal Covenant we put our trust in Jesus’s grace and love (BCP 302) and it is God’s love that we promise to proclaim by word and example (BCP 305-6). 

Asking God to make us reverence God’s self provides another layer of what our disposition toward God should be.  This deep respect for God provides guidelines for how we live our lives.  The use of “reverence” also helps us interpret the Gospel readings for Proper 7:  in each of these lessons, the “fear” of God is either how one is to respond to God (Year A: Matthew 10:24-39) or how those in the narrative respond to something that Jesus does (Year B:  Mark 4:35-41 and Year C:  Luke 8:26-39).  In each of these readings the Greek word translated as “fear” could just as easily have been translated as “reverence.”  The use of this particular Greek word invites us to ponder whether the meaning for the people in the narrative and for us is the terror kind of fear or the fear associated with reverence.

The Acknowledgement, “for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness,” provides the reason for why we can be confident that God will answer our petition.  Out of God’s faithful loving-kindness, God helps us to have a right disposition toward God’s self.  We have been set on the sure foundation of God’s loving-kindness through baptism; the basis for the eucharistic feast is God’s lovingkindness towards us.  The “governing” that may be in view in this Collect is most likely the shepherding, re-directing, and correcting of a loving parent or mentor. 

The Pleading “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen” calls us to the understanding that all three persons of the Trinity are actively involved in this faithful loving-kindness that we experience.

Homework:  In this week’s bulletin, read the Eucharistic prayer and listen for God’s loving-kindness being described. 

When have you experienced God’s governing you in a way that helped you love and reverence God more?  

How has the pandemic challenged our love and reverence of God?  What has helped us as a parish love and reverence God more during this time?

O Lord,
make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name,
for you never fail to help and govern
those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 230)

© 2021 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick

1 thought on “The Collect for Proper 7: The Sunday closest to June 22”

  1. Pingback: The Collect for Proper 17: The Sunday closest to August 31 - The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration

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