Gleanings from the Collects: Third Sunday after Pentecost

O Lord, from whom all good proceeds: Grant us the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may always think those things that are good, and by your merciful guidance may accomplish the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect has its roots in the Gelasian and Gregorian sacramentaries.[1]The 2019 BCP makes an improvement over the 1979 version by specifically asking the Father for the Holy Spirit to be our source of inspiration. With the prayer being offered “through Jesus Christ our Lord” it is thoroughly Trinitarian in nature.

The opening attestation, “from whom all good proceeds,” calls to mind a passage from James. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”[2]In these days of pandemic, social unrest and economic uncertainty it is refreshing to be reminded of the goodness of God. The news and social media would have us believe that the sky is falling. And perhaps it is, but even so Holy Scripture says “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”[3]We have been accepted in the Beloved, the Kingdom is not in trouble and so we joyfully proclaim, “God is good, all the time!”“Therefore, since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us be filled with gratitude, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” [4]

The body of the collect encapsulates the truth that the will to do what is right, and the power to accomplish it, both come from the work of the Holy Spirit. It is all too easy to miss this reality. At times through rebelliousness and at other times through naiveté we strike out on our own like the toddler who says “I can do it myself.” How many times do we hear the infuriating question, “Have you prayed about it?” And of course the question is infuriating because we have failed to do so. 

The Holy Spirit, in His “merciful guidance,” calls us back to trust and dependence. He grants us the will and the way to obey Jesus’ command, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bare fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”[5]

[1]Books of liturgy from the 8thand 10thcenturies respectively

[2]James 1:17 NLT

[3]Philippians 4:8 NLT

[4]Hebrews 12:28 BSB

[5]John 15:4 ESV

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