Gleanings from the Collects: Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

O God, our refuge and strength, true source of all godliness: Graciously hear the devout prayers of your Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully, we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

While absent from the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer this collect can be found in the 1662 and 1828 BCP. In both cases it was the collect for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity.

The idea of God being “our refuge and strength” can be found throughout the Psalms.[1]  Refuge is defined as “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”[2] It is a revelation of God that is meant to bring us comfort and peace.       

Next the collect recognizes the LORD as the “true source of all godliness.” This is vital insight because too often holiness is associated with the proper keeping of rules and traditions. “Don’t drink, smoke or chew or run with people who do.” But the collect shows that godliness is a consequence of our connection to God on a personal level. As branches we have been grafted into the Vine and the stronger our connection the more of the Vine’s godly life we will receive.[3]  

We call on God to hear the “devout prayers of your Church.” This is an expression that brings balance to the all too frequent “me and Jesus” mentality that sees the Church as optional. Scripture tells us that we are individual members of the Body of Christ[4] and so a separated member would be as in much peril as an amputated limb. St. Cyprian (d.258) concluded, “No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the Church for his mother.”[5]        

In a lovely turn of phrase “we ask faithfully” that “we may obtain effectually.” This is not a timid request. When we ask “faithfully” we are literally asking ‘full of faith” that our prayers will be heard and answered. Scripture declares, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”[6]

[1] 18:2; 31:20; 46:1; 71:3; 91:2

[2] Oxford Languages

[3] John 15

[4] I Corinthians 12:12-27

[5] The Unity of the Church

[6] Hebrews 4:16 KJV

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