Friday, December 6, 2013

Bishop's Note: The Collects - Second Sunday of Advent

Bishop Eric Menees

In the first week of Advent we examined Archbishop Cranmer's collect, which called us to prepare for the coming of Christ either through our death or Jesus' Second Coming - which ever comes first. This preparation is vital to our life as Christians, and, in fact, we should live each day as if may be our last. Perhaps it is for this reason that Archbishop Cranmer recommended praying the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent each week of Advent.
In the collect for the Second Sunday of Advent, Archbishop Cranmer provides the compass for our daily preparation to meet the Lord. "Blessed Lord, which hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; grant us that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our savior Jesus Christ."
A fundamental belief of Christians world-wide is that the Lord God did cause all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. The Scriptures are God's self-revelation to man, providing us with an image of God and instructions on how we are to live our lives and love the Lord. St. Paul, under the inspiration of God, wrote to Timothy: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
If we grant the primary premise that all Scripture comes from God and is intended for our learning, then the next step is all the more important - we pray that God will open our hearts and minds to have the discipline to "hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them." In other words, that the scriptures will become not simply something we hear read in church on Sunday, but that they will become a part of our lives. It is precisely through the development of a Scriptural World that we find comfort, peace, and hope. When we learn to examine the world through the lens of scripture, we understand better why it is that things happen, and, more importantly, what our response to the world around us should be!  
For example: To the world around us, death is the worst thing that can happen. However, as biblical Christians, we understand that while death is a part of the Fall of Man, resurrection to New Life is the plan of redemption in Jesus Christ. We do not know this intuitively; we learn it by reading, marking, and digesting the Word of God and sharing it with others.
As the Season of Advent draws to a close we will read the wonderful fulfillment of the prophecy found in Isaiah chapter nine: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Let us pray with the Church that God will soften our hearts and open our minds to receive this Wonderful Counselor and Might God - whom we know to be Jesus Christ - and that we will allow His government to increase by submitting to Him and allowing Jesus’ governance over our lives. This will and can happen daily, if we but pray regularly the Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent.
Note: The "Notes to the church" 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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