Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bishop's Note: Collect for 12th week of Pentecost - Proper 17

Bishop Eric Menees

"Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of thy 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 liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

This week's Collect is a powerful one, representing both our Hebraic and Reformed roots. The opening declaration recognizes the power and authority of God: "Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things:..." Can't you hear the ring of the rabbinic prayers? One such traditional prayer, upon awaking in the morning, goes something like this: "Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe. I give you thanks, for you have restored my soul with kindness and mercy." So, too, this collect acknowledges God's majesty, power, and grace. Only He is able to answer our petitions.

"Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name;..." Only God can graft anything to the hardened human heart. A love for the name of Jesus is a love that leads us to our knees in worship and lifts our hands in praise. As St. Paul penned: "Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)

"...increase in us true religion;..." This petition, for me, asks of God to cast away from us all "religiosity" which, in my mind, is when the acts of worship are meant to show God our worth.  True religion is without pretense, because it's based on the knowledge that we are loved beyond measure - not because we deserve it, but because of God’s perfect character.

"...nourish us with all goodness;..." Only God can nourish is with all goodness because He is the source and content of all goodness. Here, goodness is synonymous with God Himself.  This is clearly seen in Moses’ petition to God and the Lord's response: "Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’  And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.’” (Exodus 33:18-19 ESV)

"...and bring forth in us the fruit of good works;..." It stands to reason that if God answers the first three petitions, then the fruit will be good works. This is work that comes in response to God's love and grace, NOT as a means to earn God's love and grace. Jesus said it perfectly: "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5 ESV)

My prayer for all of us this week is that God will grant the petitions of this Collect so that we, as individuals and as the Church, may abide in Christ and in Him alone!

Catechism Questions 10-11

10. Is there any other way of salvation?
No. The Apostle Peter said of Jesus, There is salvation in no one else, for there is no
other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved(Acts 4:12).

11. How should you respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ?

I should repent of my sins and put faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord.

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