Monday, August 29, 2011

Collect for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity

One of the things that continues to leave me in awe about the historic liturgy is the use of the Collect of the Day. Each Sunday these wonderful snippets direct our hearts to important aspects of the daily pericopal readings.

Here is the Collect from this Sunday:

O God, who declarest Thine almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity, mercifully grant unto us such a measure of Thy grace that we, running the way of Thy commandments, may obtain Thy gracious promises and be made partakers of Thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

This collect marvelously directs our hearts to acknowledge what the Lord declares to us concerning Himself. The Lord God to whom we pray is the one who declares His almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity. His primary means of making His almighty power known to us is not through signs and wonders in the heavens and in the earth and in the seas, but in showing mercy and pity.

Is this not absolutely wonderful? Is this not magnificent? Is this not worthy of our full devotion and attention? This is what the divine service is given to teach us and deliver to us. This is what the Holy Spirit calls us to congregate to hear and to receive. Throughout the entire service this is what God works and gives to us.

Notice that the collect directs us to remember that it is through the declaration of God’s mercy and pity to us that we are enabled to run the way of the commandments and obtain God’s gracious promises and we are made to be partakers of His heavenly treasures. Notice that the true faith teaches us that we do not obtain God’s gracious promises through our own obedience, but through His mercy and pity declared unto us. We are made partakers of His heavenly treasure not through our obedience, but through the declaration of His mercy and pity to us. The power is in His declaration. Even the power to honor the commandments and to value them as part of the way through which God blesses us, is through the declaration of His mercy and pity.

God does bless us through His commandments, because He produces the obedience in us through the faith that He gives. For example, He commands that we administer the Sacrament and partake of it together for the forgiveness of our sins and renewed faith in His mercy and grace. Because He works faith in us to believe His good and gracious will and to believe His promise of forgiveness and renewal in the Sacrament, we administer it in the congregation according to His commandment and we come forward and receive His blessings through this blessed means of His grace. This obedience is not something that we choose to do, but rather, it is produced in us through the faith that He generates in us concerning His mercy and gracious will toward us and concerning His promise to grant us forgiveness and renewal through the body and blood of Jesus. At the Last Day, even as He does today, He will count these works that He produces in us as our own works and say “Well done!”

Who but the Lord would even imagine such to be possible, let alone actually to make it so? Truly this requires almighty power, which He declares to us chiefly in showing mercy and pity.

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