Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Anglican Moment: The Collect

At the heart of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer are the Propers: the prayer, Epistle and Gospel readings laid out for each week of the year. The Propers start with the beginning of the Church Calendar, the First Sunday in Advent and end with the Last Sunday before Advent which follows the 24th Sunday after Trinity.

The Propers start with the Collect, a prayer that is "collectively" prayed not only by all members of the church body, but by all Anglicans worldwide on that particular Sunday.

Plus, there are also Collects that are part of Morning and Evening Prayers, such as the Collect for Grace, the Collect for Peace, and the Collect against All Perils. Again, these prayers are prayed collectively by the congregation as well as around the world by the 70 million members of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Collect for Grace in Morning Prayer has always been one of my favorites:

O Lord, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day; Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by thy governance, may be righteous in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for this past Sunday and therefore this week -- the Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity -- is:

Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Propers, including the Collects and New Testament readings, take us through the seasons of the Church Year, including the High Holy Days: Advent, Christmastide, Epiphanytide, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide, Ascension, Whitsuntide (Pentecost), and Trinity. Ordinary Time is counted in Sundays after Trinity until Advent rolls around again, signalling the beginning of a new Church Year. Collects and Readings are also available for celebrating Biblical Saints' Days of the Apostles, including Paul and Barnabas as well as John the Baptist, plus other Holy Days such as the Purification of the Virgin, the Annunciation, the Conversion of St. Paul, the Transfiguration of Christ, St. Michael and all Angels, and All Saints' Day. Collects also are used for special occasions, such as the dedication of a church, baptisms, marriages, funerals, and vistation of the sick. Special days such as Ember and Rogation Days, plus Independence and Thanksgiving Days also have their special Collects.

So Collects "collect" together the body of Christ in communal, universal prayer as we lift our voices to heaven with the same words of supplication and praise throughout the world. And that unity -- that's what I love most about Collects. As I pray along and say my "Amen," men and women in Uganda, the Philippines, England, India, Australia, and Morocco are praying the same words, asking God for the same things, praising Him with the same words. What a sweet aroma this must be to our Lord, and what a foretaste of heaven it is, when all our voices shall be raised in praise, totally united at long last.

(This information about the Propers and the Collects is taken from this week's Beadle's Report from Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity -- see link in sidebar.)

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