O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This beautiful collect first appeared in the American Book of Common Prayer in the 1979 edition. However it is an ancient collect that is taken from the Leonine Sacramentaryfrom among the prayers for Christmas. Along with the Roman Catholic Church today, the Anglican Church in North America has appointed this collect for the 2ndSunday after Christmas.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recorded a popular song called “Woodstock” that contained the lyrics, “We are stardust. We are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” It’s a good song but it is not good theology as this collect points out.
In the garden we were “wonderfully created” but in Christ the dignity of our human nature is “yet more wonderfully restored.” Thus we are not going back to the garden, rather we are going forward to the heavenly Jerusalem. Because of Jesus mankind will go from being keepers of a garden to become a royal priesthood.In the garden mankind knew God as Creator but in Christ we know Him as Father. The epistle appointed for this day proclaims this truth in an astonishing way. “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will.”
As unfathomable as it may seem, our adoption through Jesus Christ makes us “heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”While we cannot even imagine all that God has in store for us, we do know that we have a future that far surpasses anything that a return to the garden could offer. Our destiny is not to go backwards but rather to progress from glory to glory.
Like this collect, Leo the Great captured what Christ has done for us through His incarnation. “The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men might become the sons of God.”
The Leonine Sacramentary is a book of prayers attributed to Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome who died 461. It is the oldest surviving liturgical book.
I Peter 2:9
2 Corinthians 3:18