Almighty God, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you revealed the way of eternal life to every race and nation: Pour out this gift anew, that by the preaching of the Gospel your salvation 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.
This collect for mission first appeared in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and is repeated almost verbatim at Pentecost. It drew heavily from a prayer in the Gelisian Sacramentary.
The collect calls to mind the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 when people who were present from many nations heard the Good News of salvation in their own tongue.
Two very important truths are contained in this collect. The first is the universality of the Gospel. Pentecost was evidence that salvation was not just for the Jewish people but for every “family, language, people and nation.”
The Apostles understood this truth and so they began the ministry of taking to Gospel to the nations as Jesus commended. They began in Jerusalem and then they and their followers since have gone to the ends of the earth.
Today we are to follow in their footsteps and in the power of the Holy Spirit boldly proclaim, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”Such a message will be a stumbling block to many but it will also be salvation to those who hear and receive it. It would be unfaithfulness on our part to dilute this message.
The second truth of this collect is that it informs us how salvation reaches to the ends of the earth. It is the work of the Holy Spirit “by the preaching of the Gospel.” While the modern church puts much emphasis on programs, bands and smoke machines, this collect calls us back to what the Scripture calls, “the foolishness of preaching.”It is the central way that God speaks to saint and sinner alike and He promises that His Word does not return void but accomplishes His purposes.Thus preaching should be held in high regard in the Church and so we pray that “with meek heart and due reverence (we) may hear and receive thy holy Word, truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of (our) lives.”
Of course the proclamation of the Gospel is not limited to preachers. All Christians are to proclaim the salvation of God in Christ in both word and deed. And because our citizenship is in heavenin one sense we are all full time missionaries while we walk in this world. Are we doing the work that He has given us to do?
A book of prayers, rites and blessings used by the Celebrant dating to around 750AD
Canticle 18 pg 94 1979 BCP; Revelation 7:9
Acts 4:12 NASB
I Corinthians 1:21
1928 Book of Common Prayer p.74