Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bishop's Note: Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Bishop Eric Menees

O God, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man's understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards thee, that we, loving thee in all things and above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This week's Collect seems to draw its inspiration from the First Epistle of St. John, chapter four: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:7-8) Because God is love, He is by His very nature loving, and desires to pour into the hearts of His children things that are so wonderful we cannot begin to imagine them!

When we are "born from God," i.e. born again, we have our hearts and souls supernaturally prepared to receive the love of God and to share it with others. Hard to imagine isn't it? Thus, any love we receive or give does not originate within us or others, but is a gift from God and is meant to be returned to Him and shared with others.

What this collect calls us to do is love the Lord our God above everything and everyone else in our lives! He is to be our first priority and our principle aim. I like the way that the Westminster Catechism states it:

 Q.  What is the chief end of man?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

When we have our priorities correct - in other words when God is at the top of our list - what we discover is that everything else falls into proper perspective. Most of the difficulties in our daily lives come when we and others place ourselves, our families, our work, etc. first and God second, or third, or fourth.

This Collect reminds us that when we love God above all things, then we receive the blessings that exceed our greatest desires. How awesome is that?!

Now let me ask: Do you expect your Father in Heaven to bless you? Do you look for those blessings in your life? If I'm honest, I do look for God's blessings, but I need to do so even more. Like the father of the ill son in the gospel of Mark, who cried out to Jesus: "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief," (Mark 9:24) my faith is imperfect but fulfilling; imperfect but compelling; imperfect but loving. And, even my imperfect faith is a gift from God. I am exceedingly grateful for the gift of God's love in my life, which I am privileged to share with you all.
God bless you all!

Note: These articles are written by Bishop Menees for the Diocese of San Joaquin. I have posted them on Soundings with his permission for a wider audience. This is also the case for his "Why I am an Anglican" series. Dale+

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