The Collect for Proper 8: The Sunday closest to June 29

Almighty God,
you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:
Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching,
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 230)

According to Marion Hatchett, this Collect, formerly used for the feast day of Saint Simon and Saint Jude (celebrated on October 28), was written for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer.  The Collect uses Ephesians 2:20-22 and 4:3 as its theological foundation.  Those responsible for organizing the Collects for our present Book of Common Prayer appointed this Collect to the Sunday closest to the feast day of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul (celebrated on June 29) because of the mention of apostles in the prayer (Hatchett, 188).

The Preamble, “Almighty God,” invites us to consider what mighty act of redemption and restoration is in view in the Petition and the Aspiration.

The Acknowledgement, “you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone,” is a quotation from Ephesians 2:20.  In Matthew 21, Jesus refers to himself as the fulfillment of Psalm 118:22-23–-that he is the cornerstone, the first stone put into place in new construction.  All other stones are set relative to this first stone.  In Matthew 16:13-19, when the disciple Simon son of Jonah declares that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, Jesus replies that this information is a gift from God the Father.  Jesus renames him “Peter” (which in Greek means “rock”) and states that upon this rock he will build his church.  Peter and the other apostles oriented their ministry and teachings based upon the teachings and the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. 

The Petition, “Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching,” asks God to complete in us what we promise in our baptism:  to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship” (BCP 304).  Their teachings are contained in what we call the New Testament.  The Old Testament provides the background and context for the New Testament so that we can better understand these teachings.  Through our attention to them, God is shaping our individual, parish, diocesan, and world-wide lives into the building materials of the Church and joining us all together.

The Aspiration, “that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you” focuses why we desire unity—for us, as Church, to be caught up in God’s mighty act of redemption and re-creation in such a way that we, as living stones, are built up together into not just any building, but a holy temple to God (Ephesians 2:21-22 and 1 Peter 2:5).  Whether gathered together in a physical building before the pandemic, gathered together on the internet during the pandemic, or now gathering together in both places, our goal as Church is to be part of the spiritual building that is a dwelling place for God.  This is a mighty act of redemption, that all who once were strangers become members of God’s household (see also the Collect for Proper 6).

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen,” is a pleading for the Father to complete this work that Jesus began in his earthly life and now continues through us by the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Church, as the temple acceptable to God, is where and how we dwell with the Holy Trinity and where and how the Holy Trinity dwells within and empowers us.

How are we, as a parish, being joined together in unity of spirit? 

If we consider that one of the effects of the pandemic has been to provide us with time to reflect upon our common life as a parish, what “rough edges” have been chipped away?  What parts of our life together have been “polished” by this time, bringing us more in line with Christ, the cornerstone of the Church?

Almighty God,
you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:
Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching,
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you;
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

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