I look forward to Sundays for lots of reasons, not the least of which these days is what I'll call "the unveiling of the collect."
Before we get to much further, let me clarify that I'm talking about the prayer (pronounced: COL-lect) specific to each Sunday in the church year. It's an Episcopal thing, and you can find them in our prayer book. Lutherans also have this practice. They call it "the prayer of the day," but in Episcopal usage, it has significance beyond Sunday. According to the rubrics (rules) of the prayer book, the collect is to be read for all services throughout the following week.
I love the early climax of the liturgy in the collect. Is this heretical? I mean, most people would point to the gospel as the climax of the service of the Word. I think that the collect is the crowning jewel of the entrance rite. It gives purpose to our procession and praise, and it prepares us by preceeding the propers with prayer.
Early on the weekly feast of Christ's resurrection, collects serve as our common response to God's goodness.
In a cathedral setting, you don't just hear the collect on Sundays; you hear it all throughout the week: at morning prayer, midweek eucharists and evensongs. Some parish churches have midweek services, so it gets prayed again, but most cathedrals essentially have services every day. But keep in mind that feast days have their own collects, so parishes that gather again for these festivals do not hear the Sunday collect again.
Hearing the proper collect throughout the week gives one more time to think about what's being said about God and what we should be asking of him, and what we should be doing as his disciples.
Here's this week's collect:
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I was particularly drawn to the word "running" in this week's collect. I do a lot of running these days: running from one task to another, running from home to work and back, running off photocopies, and running just for exercise. In the midst of this flurry of activity, I often loose sight of God and his abundant grace. Grace that leads us to respond in an active way to a God whose power is expressed through mercy and pity.
When I go running, I have to remember to collect myself.
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