The Collect for Whitsunday:  The Day of Pentecost

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation
by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit:
Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel,
that it may reach to the ends of the earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 227)

While this Collect is new, the theology is basically the same as that of the second Collect for Pentecost in the eighth-century Gelasian sacramentary (Hatchett, 184) from Gaul, which is the region we know as France.

The Preamble, “Almighty God,” indicates that we will be asking God for a mighty work of redemption and re-creation to be worked into us.

The Acknowledgement, “on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit,” has three important concepts.

Praying “on this day” may seem odd since the Day of Pentecost happened more than 2000 years ago.  This form of prayer, in which we recall a past salvific event as if it is happening in the present, is called anamnesis.  An anamnetic prayer invites us to not merely remember a mighty act of God’s saving grace, but to enter into the past event in the present moment so that our present and our future are transformed.  In the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil (BCP 286-7), we hear “This is the night” three times.  While The Great Thanksgiving portion of our Sunday Eucharist doesn’t explicitly state “on this day,” we remember Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection not just as recalling his story, but asking God the Father to sanctify us through these salvific acts by the work of the Holy Spirit.  That all Christians—past, present, and future—are redeemed and re-created through the same salvific events is a mighty and mysterious work of our Triune God. 

Eternal life, the life-changing knowledge of the Father through the Son (see the Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, BCP 225), is made accessible through the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12-13 and 3:5-17).  The work of all three persons of the Trinity is necessary for the redemption and re-creation of humanity to become what God desires for us.

During the 40 days between Jesus’s resurrection and his ascension into heaven, he instructed his disciples to not leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the gift of receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-5).  In last week’s Collect, we joined the first disciples and the Church throughout the ages, in asking Jesus to do as he promised—to send the Holy Spirit to us.  Through the coming of the Holy Spirit, baptism and eucharist are regenerative and restorative in ways that they were not prior to the historical Pentecost.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit who is now among us in a different way than before that day, our baptism is regenerative as we are incorporated, mysteriously and miraculously, into Jesus’s actual death, burial, and resurrection.  Likewise, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine of the Eucharist become the means of our sanctification.  Through baptism and Eucharist, we participate in God’s eternal life, which empowers us to work toward the fulfillment of God’s mission.

The Petition, “Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel,” moves the focus of the prayer from what God has done and what we participate in, to Jesus’ mission (Luke 4:43) that he gave to the disciples (Matthew 10:7):  preaching the good news.  Implicitly, the means by which this Petition is realized is us, the Church today.  By living into the Baptismal Covenant to “continue in the apostles’ teaching” and “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ” (The Baptismal Covenant, BCP 304-5), we are the means through which the Spirit answers this prayer.  Just as the disciples were transformed on the historical day of Pentecost, we need the Petitions of the Collects from this Easter season to be answered so that we are empowered and have the confidence to participate in sharing the Gospel. 

In the Easter Collects, we have prayed for grace to

  • live lives that reflect the Gospel by
    • dying daily to sin so that we can live with Christ in the joy of his resurrection;
    • show forth in our lives what we profess by faith;
  • see Christ with our spiritual eyes (behold Christ in all his redeeming work);
  • know Christ when we hear his voice and to follow where he leads;
  • have confidence that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and to follow his steps; and
  • be filled with such love of God in all things and above all things so that we may obtain God’s promises, which exceed all our desires.

Our Easter Collects through these 50 days have been preparing us for the Season after Pentecost.

The Aspiration, “that it may reach to the ends of the earth,” completes the reference from Matthew 28:18-20 and supplies the geographical scope of God’s desire:  that all peoples and nations will be given the opportunity to enter into eternal life.

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen,” ties together the themes of this Collect—the gift of eternal life is through the unified actions, desire, and will of all three persons of the Trinity for the reconciliation of all people to God. 

Note:  This Collect is not used as the Collect of the Day during the Daily Office in the week that follows (BCP 227), but is used only on the feast day itself.  The Collect that is used for the Daily Office this week is the one for Proper 5.  A meditation on The Collect for Proper 5 will be available on the website on Monday morning.

In this Collect, we pray for Jesus’ ministry and the ministry of the disciples to be fulfilled.  Last week we reflected upon how we have experienced God’s glory in ways that we haven’t before.  How might these new experiences of God’s glory help us to share the Good News of God in Christ in new ways?

Often, “the ends of the earth,” seems like a call to foreign mission.  However, there are areas near to us that need to hear the gospel.  How have we, as a parish, shared the gospel to those around us?  How has sharing the gospel changed since the last time we prayed this prayer? 

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation
by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit:
Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel,
that it may reach to the ends of the earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 227)


(c) 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  

Scroll to Top