Gleanings from the Collects: Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect is a revision of the 1662 collect for Trinity Sunday. Its roots are found in the Leofic Missal[1]of the 10thcentury.

The collect begins by acknowledging that our “confession of a true faith” is a result of the grace of God. This is so because the truth of the Trinity came to the Church by the revelation of God and not by the reasoning of man. It took numerous Councils, predominately fighting against current heresies, to finally codify this mystery. And it cannot be emphasized enough that a theological mystery is not a problem to be solved but a truth to be proclaimed, even though it cannot be fully grasped. Thus St. Augustine said if we try to understand the Trinity we will lose our minds, but if we don’t believe it we will lose our souls.

The doctrine of the Trinity exposes the error of those who say that they don’t need the Church’s teaching because they have the Holy Spirit and the Bible. If asked how many years it would take them to come up with this doctrine, if they had never heard of it before, the truthful answer would be “Never.” God is a Trinity of Persons and a Unity of Being. This is His revelation of Himself to the Church and it is believed by all Christians from Orthodox believers in Moscow to Baptists in Murfreesboro.

Once this teaching is received by faith[2], the truth of it becomes abundantly clear throughout all of Scripture. At the very beginning of Genesis God speaks the Word to create (the Word that became flesh[3]), while the Spirit is hovering over the face of the deep.[4]In the last book of the Bible we read that the hosts of heaven cry not “Holy” nor “Holy, Holy” but “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”[5]

One of the more interesting type[6]of the Trinity is seen when three men approach Abraham at the oaks of Mamre. When speaking with them Abraham continually uses the singular “Lord.” And the text even interchanges the three men speaking with Abraham with the “LORD” (indicating the Divine Name) speaking to him.[7]  

The collect also informs us that we are not only to “acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity” but we are also to “worship the Unity.” The Holy Trinity is more than a truth to be believed, it is three Persons in one God to be worshipped. This we do every time we recite or sing the Gloria each Sunday. And while the acclamation of the Trinity is infrequent in much of Protestant worship it is replete in Anglicanism from the opening acclamation to the final benediction in both the Daily Office and Holy Communion. 

A helpful meditation on the Holy Trinity can be found in the Athanasian Creed.[8]

[1]Anglo Saxon missal

[2]We believe in order to understand we do not understand in order to believe. Anselm of Canterbury

[3]John 1

[4]Genesis 1

[5]Revelation 4:8

[6]types are examples of spiritual realities

[7]Genesis 18:1-21

[8]A 5thcentury creed named for the great defender of the faith.

Gleanings from the Collects: Pentecost

Almighty God, on this day, 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. 

or this 

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Two options are appointed for the Feast of the Pentecost. The first collect is new to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, while the second option is from the 1662 and 1928 BCP. It was taken from the Gregorian sacramentary.[1]

Pentecost is the feast commemorating the sending of the Holy Spirit to the disciples as found in Acts 2. It is the fulfillment of Jesus promise “…but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”[2]Pentecost is also viewed as the birth of the Church because 3,000 from around the known world were baptized on that day. By the sending of the Holy Spirit Jesus’ followers went from being a local sect to an international faith. And since the Sacraments require both Word and Spirit, there would be no Church today without the Holy Spirit.

It is fitting that both collects are offered because they touch upon two important distinctives of the Holy Spirit. They tell us that He comes to comfort and to empower. Ignoring either one or both of these distinctives leads to an imbalanced spiritual life.

He comes to comfort. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as Paraclete.[3]This word can be translated “advocate” “helper” “comforter.” He is one who comes along side, like a best friend, to be a support and a comfort. He comforts us in many ways by the many fruits that He brings into our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”[4]He also comforts and supports us by praying for us and with us. St. Paul writes, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”[5]

He empowers us. Jesus said to the disciples, “and behold I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”[6]What was the purpose of this power? Jesus said, “…that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations beginning in Jerusalem.”[7]

One way that the Holy Spirit empowers the Church is by leading her into the truth. Jesus said, “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.”[8]People who walk in the truth, live in the light and are free. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”[9]People who do not walk in the truth, live in darkness and are in bondage. “But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over.”[10]

Another way that the Spirit empowers us is through His assurance of our state before God. St. Paul writes, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”[11]While there are many voices, both natural and spiritual, that would undermine our confidence, the Holy Spirit whispers assurances that we have been accepted in the Beloved. Thus we face life saying “If God be for us who can be against us?”[12]

Because the Son glorifies the Father, and the Spirit glorifies the Son, the Holy Spirit is all too often overlooked. Therefore we need to be especially intentional about seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can walk in the comfort and power of God.

Veni Creator Spiritus   

9thCenutry Hymn

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest, 
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father,
Thou Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply. 

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

[1]The Gregorian sacramentary is a 10thcentury book of prayers used by the celebrant at Mass.

[2]Acts 1:5

[3]John 14:16

[4]Galatians 5:22,23

[5]Romans 8:26 NLT

[6]Luke 24:46 NASB

[7]Luke 24:47 NASB

[8]John 16:13 NASB

[9]2 Corinthians 3:17 ASV

[10]Proverbs 4:19 NLT

[11]Romans 8:16 ESV

[12]Romans 8:31 KJV

Gleanings from the Collects: The Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday After Ascension Day

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. 

This collect was taken from an antiphon[1]that was sung at Vespers[2]on the day of the Ascension, 40 days after Easter. It is reported to be the antiphon sung by the Venerable Bede[3]as he died in 735AD. It is the collect appointed for the Sunday after the Ascension Day in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as well as the 1928 and 1979 BCP. 

The prayer begins by addressing God as “the King of Glory.” This title is most appropriate as it is the title used in the prophecy of Jesus’ ascension in Psalm 24. 

“Lift up your heads, O gates.

  And be lifted up, O ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

The Lord, strong and mighty,

The Lord, mighty in battle!

Lift up your heads, O gates!

And lift them up, O ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?

The Lord of hosts,

he is the King of glory!”

Next the collect speaks of Jesus being “exalted…with great triumph.” The letter of St. Paul to the Philippians confirms this truth. He states, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in the heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God that Father.”[4]

As we are in the period between Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost, when Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to the Church, it is very appropriate to pray, “Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us.”[5]Through this prayer we prepare the way for Pentecost which is celebrated the following Sunday.

When we pray, “exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before” we are reminded of an amazing Christian hope. We will not only be raised from the dead but also we will be exalted with Christ. St. Peter speaks of Christians being “partakers of the divine nature.”[6]This does not mean that we become little gods rather that we will be incorporated into the union and love of the Blessed Trinity. As Jesus prayed, “ that they may all be one, even as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in us…the glory which You have given Me, I have given to them…”[7]

The unity and Christlikeness that we strive feebly for in this life will become our very nature. There will be no more battles with the flesh, the world or the devil. No more separation and loneliness, no more doubt or despair. All wants will be gone and we will know love in its perfection as we “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”[8]

In the meantime we can raise our hearts and minds beyond what is around us because what is around us is only a partial reality. There is also an invisible kingdom that is unfolding. Consequently we are not limited to an earthly perspective.  Jesus’ ascension impacts us in the here and now if we will allow it to do so. St. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”[9]

[1]A brief sentence that is said or sung before or after the Psalm

[2]A service of evening prayer in the Divine Office

[3]Anglo-Saxon priest and scholar who wrote history and grammar, as well as biographies and biblical commentaries. d. 735 

[4]Philippians 2:9-11 NASB 

[5]Of course we know the Pentecost happened 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and that the Spirit has already been sent to the Church. But the point of following the Christian calendar is to walk with Jesus through those historic moments. Additionally the salvific work of God, when it occurred in time and space, is also eternal in nature. Revelation speaks of the Lamb being slain from the foundation of the world (3:8 KJV). From our limited perspective the redemption of Christ looked back as well as forward. The work of God, who is outside of time, is in the eternal present because He is I AM. Thus when we enter into heavenly worship we are doing more than just remembering an event in the past. The Eucharist is more than a memorial meal. While Jesus is not being sacrificed again in the Mass, He is being re-presented to us in the eternal present and so we partake not just bread and wine but also His Body and Blood.

[6]2 Peter 1:4

[7]John 17:21,22

[8]Psalm 23:6

[9]Colossians 3:1-3

Gleanings from the Collects: The Sixth Sunday of Easter

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect is found in a number of early missals including the Celtic Stowe Missal of the 8thcentury that was written in Latin and Old Irish. It also appeared in the Sarum Missal[1]and was slightly modified by Archbishop Cranmer for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer.

The collect is drawn from the wonderful biblical promise “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”[2]I heard a country preacher say, “I believe that we are going to find that God is a whole lot greater and a whole lot gooder than we could have imagined.” The Scriptures and this collect say that he is correct.

We would be right to be utterly amazed that God has “prepared…such good things as surpass our understanding.” Considering that we have done absolutely nothing to be forgiven, we would be more than grateful for His mercy. But God has gone far beyond declaring us forgiven. He offers us promises “which exceed all that we can desire,” among which is making us joint heirs with Jesus Christ.[3]

The petition of this collect is that we would obtain God’s promises by loving Him “in all things and above all things.” While that certainly is “meet and right so to do,” the truth is that in our own power we are not able to love God with all of our heart and soul and strength.[4]And so the petition correctly starts by asking the LORD to first “pour into our hearts such love towards you.” It is God’s love in us that makes it possible for us to love Him in return. St. Augustine wisely prayed, “And my whole hope is only in Thy exceeding great mercy. Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt.”[5] 

What does it look like for us to love God “in all things and above all things?” Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount. It is to make God the priority of our lives. Jesus said, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.Seek the Kingdom of Godabove all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”[6]

[1]11thCentury Rite of Salisbury Cathedral

[2]I Corinthians 2:9 NASB

[3]Romans 8:17

[4]Deuteronomy 6:5

[5]Augustine’s Confessions

[6]Matthew 6:31-33 NLT

Why Would a Priest Become A Financial Coach? My Story.

First of all Beth and I were both in helping professions. If money had been our focus we would have chosen different careers. We were typical Americans. We always paid our bills but we always had bills to pay. We had very little in savings and were in essence living paycheck to paycheck. We both were worried about our financial future but we didn’t talk about it. Because Beth is better organized she ran our finances and I was basically clueless.

A friend taught Financial Peace University at our church and even though I did not want to, I attended the classes to support our friend. By the second video I was hooked. We pulled together as a team and saw our marriage strenghthend. We saw that it was possible to achieve financial freedom so we determined to follow the plan to the letter. It just seemed wise to take financial advice from a multi millionaire. As we followed the debt snowball we began to see light at the end of the tunnel. Finances began to be fun to talk about because we were seeing our dreams come into focus. After we paid off our debts we attacked the mortgage with a vengence and paid off our house. All the money that had gone to service debt we then put into savings and investments and in a few short years we were able to retire with dignity.  If some or all of that is your dream I want to help you get there. If a priest and a social worker can pull this off then you can too. 

How does this work? Three steps.

  1. First we get together for a consultation. This will help me to understand both your challenges and your goals and determine if I am the person to help you.
  2. Second we develop a customized plan that addresses both your challenges and your goals. We don’t just want to fight fires we want to dream about the future and make the dream come true
  3. Third since these plans typically have to be adjusted along the way I will walk with you for a few months until you see progress and are comfortable flying solo. We can either meet weekly or every other week depending on your need and your comfort level

How will this benefit you?

  1. It is a massive relief to have the burden of finances off of your back
  2. It adds joy and purpose to your life to dream about your future
  3. It simplifies your life to be free of debt and bills
  4. It strenghtens marriages and can change the family tree 

We can meet in person or do it all remotely. If I can help contact me at