Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bishop's Note: Collect for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 7

Bishop Eric Menees
O Lord, we beseech thee, make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name, for thou never failest to help and govern those whom thou hast set upon the sure foundation of thy loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This week we begin "ordinary" time - having entered the Season of Pentecost and celebrated Trinity Sunday. The Season of Pentecost spans about half of the year, and during this time we focus on the life and teaching of Jesus as they are lived out in the Church. As such, most of the collects will focus on how we should be living our lives as individual Christians within the Body of Christ, which is the Church.  

This week's collect begins in a unique way, asking God to grant us "...perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name…."  What does it mean to have both fear and love? Those seem to be competing ideas - do we really want to fear and love God?  The answer for me is YES!

King David thought it fitting to fear the Lord when he wrote: "...the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether," (Psalm 19:9) and King Solomon wrote: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

Seems to me that anyone who does not fear the Lord does not believe in God. To fear the Lord is to recognize who we are in relation to who God is. I grew up in Southern California.  Each year as storms brewed out in the Pacific Ocean they would spawn large waves, sometimes growing to 20 feet or higher. When these waves would rise up on the sand bar approaching the shore, they would crest with huge curls and, when they crashed down, they would send water spray up two to three times the height of the original waves. In high school I would, from time to time, play hooky and go to the beach to see these waves, and sometimes I was foolish enough to go body surfing or boogie boarding. Just seeing these waves would raise a deep fear within me - fear of the awesome power that they contained and the destruction that could be wrought by that power. To fear these waves is the appropriate response toward them. Fear was not the only thing that would capture me - I was captured by their beauty and depth, their colors, and their uniqueness as each wave was different.  I especially marveled at the porpoises that would, illuminated from the back by the sun, surf the translucent waves.

I fear The Lord because I know, or at least have some idea, who he is and - especially - who I am not. I fear The Lord and his awesome power, who not only created the waves but ALL things in heaven and on hearth. I fear The Lord because I know that sometime in the next 60 seconds to 60 years I will meet him face to face, who is both my redeemer and my judge.

The fear I have for The Lord is balanced by the love I have for him, and so I find myself living in a beautiful dance of Grace and Fear, Faith and Hope - all grounded in the knowledge that God is always faithful, always loving, and always overflowing in love. And to that I say...AMEN

I pray you all a blessed Lord's Day!

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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