Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This new collect to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is a revision from the Gregorian sacramentary. It is also used on Thursday of Easter week and in the Great Vigil of Easter in the same BCP.
The prayer has a strong opening by ascribing to God the attributes of omnipotence and eternity. Because God is “almighty and everlasting” we can be assured of His power and willingness to answer this prayer.
Next is mentioned “the Paschal mystery.” This refers to the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, without which we would not “have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’ Body.” These truths are known as a “mystery” because they can only be known by revelation, they must be received by faith, and they will never be fully understood in this life. While we experience and celebrate the fruits of the Paschal mystery in our lives, we will never completely comprehend all that God has done to redeem us, to justify us, and to adopt us into His family.
It is through the Paschal mystery that God “established the new covenant of reconciliation.” He makes this new covenant present to us through the sacramental life of the Church. In baptism we are buried with Christ and share in His resurrection. St. Paul wrote, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptizedinto Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just asChrist was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk innewness of life. Forif we have been united with him ina death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
In Holy Communion we participate in the Paschal mystery as we are united with Christ and given the assurance of eternal life. “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.”
The petition of this collect is that “all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith.” This is a plea for the grace to walk in integrity. It is vital that what we believe is reflected in our lives but because we battle the world, the flesh, and the devil, we would be foolish to think that we can “walk the talk” in our own power.
While this petition is not a direct plea for the Holy Spirit, we can trust our heavenly Father to send Him in answer to this prayer and to empower us to walk in righteousness. As someone’s grandmother said, when asked if we need the Holy Ghost to go to heaven, “Honey I need the Holy Ghost to go to the Walmart.” St. Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”
10th Century book of Christian liturgy