Gleanings from the Collects: 3 Epiphany

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect first appeared in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. It draws from the collect for the Feast of St. Andrew which begins, “Almighty God, who didst give grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of they Son Jesus Christ…”

Several gleanings present themselves from this brief collect. First is that we need grace to answer our Lord’s call. This is not a work to be done in our own strength. It is not a matter of reading the most recommended book, or coming up with the newest strategy or attending the latest seminar. Evangelism, and by extension the growth of the Church, is begun continued and ended in grace. When we stray from that truth our efforts at evangelism look more like selling used cars than sharing the love of God.

Second this collect makes clear the nature of our calling. It is “to proclaim to all people the Good news of his salvation.” And since this collect is prayed by the whole Church, it means that this calling is to the whole Church. Evangelism is not just the work of ordained clergy or those with a special gift. We are all to be witnesses to “his marvelous works.” Remember that the first witness and proclaimer of Jesus’ resurrection was not an Apostle or an Evangelist. It was blessed Mary, a humble follower of Christ. And like Mary we do not have to become great apologists or skilled debaters. We simply need to bear witness of what we have experienced as forgiven sinners. 

Third we must note that the call to proclaim the Good News of his salvation is “to all people.” In this age of compromise and relativism that truth is severely challenged. Years ago I met a man who went to his denominational headquarters to express his desire to take the Gospel to the Orient. The response to his inquiry was “Why, they already have a religion.” If anything, the belief in the uniqueness of Christ for salvation has waned even more since that time. 

But this collect is based upon the eternal truth that salvation in Christ is meant for all the peoples of the earth. And that truth is rooted in the commission that Jesus gave to His Church. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”[1]That is why the Apostles traveled throughout the known world and preached that “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”[2]

Lastly the collect reminds us of the ultimate goal of evangelism. It is not so that people may find personal fulfillment, although that happens. It is not to grow the Church, although that happens. It is not to make the world a better place, although that happens. The ultimate goal of evangelism is so that “the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works.” In short we evangelize for the glory of God. We share the Good News so that more voices will sing the new song, “Worthy are You to take the book and break its seals; for You were slain and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”[3]

[1]Matthew 28:19,20  ESV

[2]Acts 2”21 NASB

[3]Revelation 5:9,10 NASB

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