Monday, December 16, 2013

The Collects - Third Sunday of Advent

 Bishop Eric Menees

Last week in the Bishop's Note it became obvious that the collects of Archbishop Cranmer can be found in different orders, depending on whether you are using the 1662, 1928, or 1979 editions of the Book of Common Prayer. As such, it seems to make the most sense for me to change course slightly and use the order of Collects found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, since that is the prayer book commonly used in the diocese at the moment.

That being the case, let's examine the Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent: Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honor, and glory, world without end. Amen.

That first sentence speaks to a theological reality that gives us hope and comfort! Though Jesus was born of Mary 2000 years ago, suffered, was crucified, died, and rose again by his great might and power, he is just as present with us in 2013 as he was with his disciples in the upper room on that first Easter night! He does this by his mighty power and great love, even though we do not deserve his presence or mercy - recognizing that we are indeed, "sorely hindered by our sins."

We are hindered by our sins, continuously failing in the way that St. Paul so eloquently stated in Romans: "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." (Romans 7:15) During this Advent Season, it is good to remember that we are hindered by our sins...but it is also good to remember that Jesus is the very essence of Grace and Mercy, and is ready to "speedily help and deliver us."

Think of that for a moment: The Lord of the universe - the very being who spoke everything into existence - is always ready to deliver us, with mercy and love, from both our sin and the wrath of God that is justly due to us for our sin. It is Absolutely mind boggling!

 And, of course, it is not just Jesus who comes to our aid, but the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - who are willing and able to come to our aid and assistance. In doing so, God brings honor and glory to himself. How amazing and loving God is, both to us and for us.

In this third week of Advent, we are reminded of both the Law and God's Grace! The Law is transgressed by our sin, and God's Grace transforms us from blind and bewildered sinners into instruments of His Honor and Glory!

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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