Gleanings from the Collects: Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect can be traced to a 7thcentury Missal.[1]It was revised by Archbishop Cranmer for the first English Book of Common Prayer. It was appointed as the collect for Proper 21 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the 8thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP.

It begins with an astonishing statement. When we think of the almighty power of God our minds go to the creation of all things, the LORD spinning galaxies from His fingertips. We wonder at His power to sustain everything that has life, from microscopic creatures, to all of human kind, to angelic beings. We marvel at His power to bring all things to their appointed ends. When we think of His almighty power we tend to quake. And yet this collect corrects our thinking. It tells us that the almighty power of God is chiefly declared, “in showing mercy and pity.” He uses His power not like the great and terrible Oz, but as a loving heavenly Father to help and to heal. John 3:16 tells us that this collect is exactly right. Thus when we think of a power that matches His love, it causes us to seek refuge in Him. Where else would we find both mercy and pity?

The petition is to receive grace to “…become partakers of your heavenly treasure.” We need this grace because heavenly treasures are not attained by our good works. St. Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”[2]

However the collect wisely points out that we are not passive recipients of God’s grace. It gives us the image of “running to obtain your promises.” This imagery reflects the words of Hebrews“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”[3]

The Christian life is not a sprint, rather it is a marathon. It is a race, that apart from the grace of God, we would be unable to complete. But with the help of God we will not only finish the race but we will also receive “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”[4]

[1]Gallican Missale Gothicum – “holy missal Batman!”

[2]Ephesians 2:8,9 ESV

[3]Hebrews 12:1 NLT

[4]I Peter 5:4 KJV

Gleanings from the Collects: Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Let your merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of your humble servants; and, that we may receive what we ask, teach us by your Holy Spirit to ask only those things that are pleasing to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the same Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

While this collect is absent from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer it can be found in the 2019, 1928 and 1662 BCP. It was made a beautiful choral piece by Thomas Mudd[1](1619-1667). Its roots can be found in the Leo Sacramentary[2]and the Sarum Use[3].

There is immediacy about this collect, as it does not begin by ascribing an attribute to God, such as, “Lord of all power and might…”[4]It is a direct appeal to His mercy (merciful ears) to hear our prayers. In this context, however, the call for mercy is not the appeal of a felon about to be judged, it is the heartfelt request of a child asking to be shown the Father’s steadfast love. 

The collect takes us to the writing of St. James who tells us, “You ask and you do not receive because you ask amiss…”[5]Thus we pray to be taught by the Holy Spirit to pray “only those things that are pleasing to you.”

Three lessons are taught in this prayer. First we are to approach the Lord as “your humble servants.” This was modeled for us on the night before He died, when Jesus approached the Father in humility praying, “Nevertheless not my will but yours be done.”[6]This is in harsh contrast to the televangelist approach of “name it and claim it” or of those who say that we can demand God to answer our prayers. In one such article the author says, “It’s your prayers that allow Him to pour out His Spirit and sweep the earth with the revelation of His glory”[7]If you truly believe that you “allow God” to do anything, then it is time to humble yourself in prayer and fasting. He is the Potter and we are the clay.[8]

A second lesson is that we need to be taught to pray. That is what the disciples asked of Jesus.[9]For His followers today, the best teacher is the Holy Spirit. It helps to read books on prayer but the best way to learn to pray is by praying. The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness[10]. We won’t always do it correctly and we will no doubt occasionally pray amiss. But we are not trying to pass an exam. Rather we are speaking with the One who loves us more than we can ever dream. A father delights in the first coos of his infant. He celebrates the toddler’s first words. He is thrilled when the child begins to form sentences. And he treasures every conversation that he has with his grown kids. To paraphrase Jesus, if we who are evil do this, then imagine how our heavenly Father must delight in even our feeblest attempts at prayer. 

The third lesson is that prayer is not the spiritual equivalent of presenting a shopping list. We seek to be mature in our prayers by praying according to His will. Jesus taught this. It is not an accident that we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” before we pray “give us this day our daily bread.” That is why the Book of Common Prayer is such a treasure. These prayers, which have been prayed over the centuries, call us to heights in prayer that go far beyond our natural inclinations. Beyond simply asking the Lord to bless our families, the BCP has us pray, “…bring the nations into thy fold, pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of they kingdom…”[11]Such prayers teach us to pray “only those things that are pleasing” to Him.


[2]483 AD

[3]1083 AD

[4]Collect for Proper 17, 1979 BCP

[5]James 4:3 NKJV

[6]Luke 22:42 ESV

[7]No internet source provided to avoid promoting heresy

[8]Isaiah 64:8

[9]Luke 11:1

[10]Romans 8:26,27

[11]1979 BCP p.58

Gleanings from the Collects: Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Grant us, O Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who can do no good thing apart from you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The gist of this collect can be found in the Leonine Sacramentary[1]. It appeared as the collect for Proper 14 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and has been transferred to the 6thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP.

This brief collect encapsulates a central doctrine of the Christian faith. It highlights the role of grace in the life of the believer. 

It crushes our human pride to admit, as the collect says, that we “can do no good thing apart from you,” But that is a reality of life as taught by Holy Scripture. Without God we are “dead in our transgressions and sins.”[2]Even with God we are utterly dependent. Jesus said, “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”[3]Thus we entreat God to grant us the spirit to think and do what is right, as well as the power to fulfill it.

Admitting our utter dependence upon the LORD, to even think what is right, does not absolve us of personal responsibility. The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are not mutually exclusive ideas. They are intertwined truths that give us the hope that we will be able to complete the race because He is with us all the way. 

After a beautifully poetic call to put on Christ’s humility[4]St. Paul writes, “work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”[5]That certainly is a call for human responsibility, but if that it was all that he said then we would be left in fear and trembling. St. Paul continues, “for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”[6]God gives us the will and the power to do what is right and that is how we go about working out our salvation. We are at the same time humbled by our dependence upon Him and confident that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”[7]

One of the most obvious ways that the LORD answers our prayers for grace is through Word and Sacrament. It is through the proclamation of God’s Word that we are led to salvation.[8]It is through baptism that we are cleansed from sin.[9]It is through Holy Communion that we are united with Christ.[10]In short, God’s grace is primarily mediated through the Church and that is why we need one another. The Holy Spirit unites us to one another and to Christ in such a way that we are Christ’s Body. Thus when Saul was arresting Christians Jesus asked Him, “Why are you persecuting Me?”[11]Because we are His Body it is most appropriate for us to pray to “think and do always those thing that are right” and to be able “to live according to your will.” 

[1]7thcentury liturgical book of prayers to be prayed by the priest

[2]Ephesians 2:1 NIV

[3]John 15:4 NASB

[4]Philippians 2:1-11

[5]Philippians 2:12 NASB

[6]Philippians 2:13

[7]Philippians 1:6 NASB

[8]Romans 10:8-10

[9]Acts 22:16

[10]John 6:56

[11]Acts 9:4

Gleanings from the Collects: Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and on earth: Put away from us all hurtful things, and give us those things that are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect began in the Gelasian sacramentary[1]and was in included in the Sarum Rite[2]and the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. It was the collect for Proper 4 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and has been transferred to the 5thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP. The beginning of the original collect is translated as “O God, whose providence is infallible in ordering that which is proper for itself.” 

The theology of this collect is one of the most comforting doctrines of the Christian faith. It is the belief that “this is our Father’s world and that the affairs of men and nations, in the final analysis, are in His hands.”[3]It is rooted in a text from Romans. 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.”[4]

It is very important to distinguish this belief from wishful thinking, superstitions and false doctrines. First we must note that the text does not say that all things that happen to us are good. Rather as Lord of all, He is able to turn even what was meant as evil to ultimately work for our good. A classic example of this is seen in the life of Joseph. His brothers, out of jealousy, faked his death and sold him into slavery in Egypt. While a slave he was falsely accused and imprisoned. No one could think that any of those events were good. 

But God in His sovereignty exalted Joseph to be second in command in all of Egypt and save a civilization from starvation. When finally reunited with his brothers, rather than receiving Joseph’s wrath, he pointed then to God’s providence. He said “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”[5]

The central point to the doctrine of providence is that if you a child of God, then your heavenly Father wills ultimate good for you. And in His might He will see that good prevails. This is not karma, which is a supposed impersonal law of the universe. This is not the new age idea of sending good thoughts into the universe so that good returns. This is not an Osteenian approach of confessing health and wealth until you have them. This is a very personal engagement in your life by a loving heavenly Father to see that all things in the end work for your good.

How God is able to make all things work for our good, or why God allows bad things to happen in the first place, remains a mystery. But we don’t have to understand it to live and celebrate this truth. If you live long enough you will have things that happen in your life that you would not wish on your worst enemy. And yet those things became part of what makes you the person that you are today. You will make yourself mad if you try to figure it all out, but you will have no greater peace than to rest in this truth. So enter the room called “providence” and shut the door behind you.

[1]8thcentury book of liturgy

[2]11thcentury liturgy of Salisbury Cathedral

[3]R. C. Sproul

[4]Romans 8:28 ESV

[5]Genesis 50:20 ESV

Gleanings from the Collects: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Variations of this collect can be found in the Gelasian and Gregorian sacramentaries[1]as well as in the Sarum missal.[2]It is the collect for Proper 17 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer but has been transferred to the 4thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP. 

The invocation is bold and direct. It ascribes to God “all power and might.” Then adds, “the author and giver of all good things.” These truths together leave the petitioner with no doubt that God is both able because of His power, and willing because of His goodness, to answer this prayer. This teaches us that we pray in faith, not by summoning up our own wills, but by recognizing who God is and trusting in Him to be true to Himself.

One way to view this collect is that it is one petition, followed by three sub petitions, which serve to fulfill the first. In other words we pray for the Lord to “Graft in our hearts the love of your Name” by increasing true religion, nourishing us in goodness and bringing forth the fruit of good works. Such a layered petition deserves further investigation.

First it is noted that we invoke God to graft His love into our hearts. This is so because our love for God is not something that we manufacture. Rather it is a consequence or response to His initiating love. St. John writes, “We love because He first loved us.”[3]When we add that we have done absolutely nothing to deserve this love, then His grace becomes all the more amazing. 

One way that the Lord will graft love for His Name in our hearts is by increasing “in us true religion.” It is likely that Archbishop Cramner added the word “true” before “religion” because of the contemporary controversies of the Reformation. It is certain that false religion promotes fear and condemnation rather than the love of God, therefore the word “true” an important addition. 

While true religion begins at right belief it does not end there. St. James reminds us, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.”[4]Beyond right belief we must be transformed from within (“nourish us with all goodness”) and zealous for good works[5](“bring forth in us the fruit of good works”). 

These last two petitions are all the more important in our present age. People today declare that they have true religion while brashly demanding that God accept them as they are in their sinfulness, while others say that they have true religion but selfishly hold it like an insurance policy with no concern for the needs of others. True religion calls us to works within and without, to holiness and service. Both of these qualities were perfectly modeled by Jesus. He who was without sin ate with sinners to liberate them from their sin. 

The overall language of the collect is from the world of agriculture. The images of grafting, nourishing and bringing forth fruit gives us the perspective of the farmer. The farmer is utterly dependent upon the Lord for everything; from providing the seed, to sending the rain to bringing forth the harvest. Such dependence is done in quiet confidence because, as professed at the beginning of the collect, He is “Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things.” 

“If our love were but more faithful, we should take him at his word; our life would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.”[6]

[1]8thand 10thCentury books of liturgy

[2]11thCentury Rite of Salisbury Cathedral

[3]I John 4:17 ESV

[4]James 2:19 NIV

[5]Titus 2:14 KJV

[6]There is a wideness in God’s Mercy – 1982 Hymnal #470

Gleanings from the Collects: Third Sunday after Pentecost

O Lord, from whom all good proceeds: Grant us the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may always think those things that are good, and by your merciful guidance may accomplish the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect has its roots in the Gelasian and Gregorian sacramentaries.[1]The 2019 BCP makes an improvement over the 1979 version by specifically asking the Father for the Holy Spirit to be our source of inspiration. With the prayer being offered “through Jesus Christ our Lord” it is thoroughly Trinitarian in nature.

The opening attestation, “from whom all good proceeds,” calls to mind a passage from James. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”[2]In these days of pandemic, social unrest and economic uncertainty it is refreshing to be reminded of the goodness of God. The news and social media would have us believe that the sky is falling. And perhaps it is, but even so Holy Scripture says “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”[3]We have been accepted in the Beloved, the Kingdom is not in trouble and so we joyfully proclaim, “God is good, all the time!”“Therefore, since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us be filled with gratitude, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” [4]

The body of the collect encapsulates the truth that the will to do what is right, and the power to accomplish it, both come from the work of the Holy Spirit. It is all too easy to miss this reality. At times through rebelliousness and at other times through naiveté we strike out on our own like the toddler who says “I can do it myself.” How many times do we hear the infuriating question, “Have you prayed about it?” And of course the question is infuriating because we have failed to do so. 

The Holy Spirit, in His “merciful guidance,” calls us back to trust and dependence. He grants us the will and the way to obey Jesus’ command, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bare fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”[5]

[1]Books of liturgy from the 8thand 10thcenturies respectively

[2]James 1:17 NLT

[3]Philippians 4:8 NLT

[4]Hebrews 12:28 BSB

[5]John 15:4 ESV

Gleanings from the Collects: Second Sunday after Pentecost

Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your providence, that your Church may joyfully serve you in quiet confidence and godly peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect has been transferred to the Second Week after Pentecost in the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. It replaces a collect from the 1979 BCP[1]that in turn replaced a collect of the 1928 and 1662 BCP.[2](Both of these collects are in the footnotes).

While this collect seems virtuous at first blush, it does not come from a biblical worldview. As a result it is more wishful thinking than good theology. Written at the time of the barbarian invasions, it is a foxhole prayer that falls short.

Its first error is that it implies that the ability of the Church to “joyfully serve in quiet confidence and godly peace” is dependent upon this world being “peaceably ordered by your providence” What would be the vehicle for this peace to come to the world? Politics? Science? Education? The true vehicle for peace is the gospel of the Kingdom. Thus rather than praying for peace, so that the Church can do her job, we need to pray for the Church to do her job, so that the world can know peace.

Jesus was quite clear about the contrast between Himself and the world. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer,I have overcome the world.”[3]St. Paul would not have ordered the Church to “put on the whole armor of God”[4]if she was going to fulfill her mission in the context of a peaceful world. It would be nice but that is not reality. Reality is that nearly twice the number of Christians were martyred last century than in all the previous centuries combined[5]. Again, the Church’s role is to make this a peaceful world by working and praying for the Kingdom to come in its fullness.

This leads to the second error of this collect. Jesus did not promise His disciples a life of “quiet confidence and godly peace.” He did not give such false assurances. Jesus, as a Southern expression goes, put the skunk on the table. He said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”[6]Jesus promises a cross not a rose garden.

A more biblically accurate collect from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer says, “Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.”[7]

St. James corrects us. “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”[8]While it would be wonderful for the Church to go about her business in a peaceful world, such a naïve hope is focused more for our comfort than on the glory of God. The Church would do well to return to the former collects for this Sunday that are far more biblically sound.

[1]O God, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth: We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 1979 BCP p.177

[2]O GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 1928 BCP p.188,189

[3]John 16:33 NKJV

[4]Ephesians 6:11-18


[6]John 15:18-20

[7]1979 BCP p.56

[8]James 4:3 NLT

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