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 eighth-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.  The other way of reading “Lord” is as the English translation of God’s revealed name (see Exodus 3:11-15), which is written in Hebrew as four consonants (called the Tetragrammaton).  The practice of the Jews has been to not speak God’s revealed name, but to write the vowels of “Adonai” (which in English means “my Lord”) in the Hebrew text and to read “Adonai” in place of the unspoken proper name of God.  In our English Bibles, following the Jewish tradition, when these four consonants occur in the Hebrew text that is being translated, we see Lord (capital L with small capital letters for “ord”) as the English translation.  Following Hatchett’s commentary on this Collect, 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’ 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 loving-kindness 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 your love and reverence of God changed in the last year?  What has helped us as a parish love and reverence God more over the past year?

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)

© 2022 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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