Gleanings from the Collects: Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect is found in a 10th century illuminated manuscript.[1] It was translated into English by Archbishop Cranmer and is found in subsequent Books of Common Prayer.

Because God is “almighty and everlasting” it follows that He governs “all things in heaven and on earth.” If He were not then He could not. It also follows that because He is almighty and governs all things, that He is perfectly able to hear the prayers of His people grant us His peace.

Two significant points are made in this prayer. The first is that we are to pray for peace “in our time.” Peace is not something that we look for only in the “sweet by and by.” Jesus taught us to pray for the kingdom to come in the here and now. We are not to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. And if the Church does not pray for God’s peace “in our time” who will? Admittedly it is a broad and bold prayer but then again Jesus said we are to offer prayers that move mountains.[2]

The second significant point is that we are to pray for God’s peace and Jesus tells us that His peace is distinctively different from the peace that the world has to offer. He said, “Peace I leave you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, not let it be fearful.”[3]

The world’s idea of peace is a lack of conflict and it does not really matter how such peace is attained. We follow dictators because they make the trains run on time. We build communities where everyone is equal, except for the ones who are a little more equal than the others. We rewrite history by editing out the parts that makes us uncomfortable. We censor those who disagree with us and remove their voice from public platforms. We even create violent groups that attack anyone that they perceive to be potentially violent.

Jesus’ peace, however, in not an absence of conflict. It is Him napping in the boat in the midst of a storm. It is forgiving those who were crucifying Him. It is calling out the Scribes and Pharisees for the burdens that they were placing on God’s people. It is even tipping over tables and driving money changers out of the temple so that God’s House would be a house of prayer.

Jesus’ peace is rooted in His relationship with His Father. He said that He did what He did “so that the world may know that I love the Father.”[4]  And the peace that He promised was because He was going to the Father.[5] He prayed “You Father are in Me and I in you, that they also may be in Us.”[6] Thus His peace comes to us in a connection to the Father through the Son. It comes when we realize that because we are in Them then nothing can separate us from God’s love.

[1] Gregorian sacramentary

[2] Matthew 17:20

[3] John 14:27 NASB

[4] John 14:31 NASB

[5] John 14:28

[6] John 17:21

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