Wednesday
May072014

The Collect for the 2nd Sunday after Easter

The Second Sunday after Easter

Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life: Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: 1 Peter 2:19-25
The Gospel: John 10:11-16

Historical Note

This Collect from the pen of Archbishop Cranmer (1549) replaced the one found in the Sarum Missal, which read: "O God, who by thy Son's humbling himself hast raised up a fallen world: Grant unto thy faithful people perpetual joy, that they whom thou hast snatched from the dangers of perpetual death, may be brought by thee to the fruition of eternal joys. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."  The Sarum collect rings with Easter joy but is not as fine a prayer as Cranmer’s replacement, which one commentator called a collect of “more solid excellence.  This prayer is framed according to the best type of Collect.  It is remarkable for balance, balance not only in style, but in the doctrine which it expresses.  With two masterly touches it summarizes the whole benefit of Redemption, as consisting in the provision of a sin offering, and of a perfect example.  And not less happily it summarizes the duty of a Christian, as consisting, first, in reception, and, secondly, in imitation.  The richness and fullness of thought compressed into the seven or eight lines of this brief prayer is really remarkable.  Perhaps we should not err in saying that it embraces more matter than any other Collect.  And it is built upon, and stands in living relation to the Epistle and Gospel for the day, which certainly cannot be said of the medieval Collect.”[1]

Commentary on the Collect

Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son.  The Father sent his only-begotten Son into the world as a gift to humanity. Without ceasing to be God, the Son took unto himself in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary human nature and lived as a Man.  He revealed the Kingdom of God in word and deed – he suffered, died, was buried and raised from the dead to be exalted to the Father's right hand in heavenly glory.  

To be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life.  The centre of the Incarnation on earth was the passion and crucifixion where the Lamb of God offered himself as a sacrifice for human sin, and where in all that he suffered Jesus Christ our Lord provided a perfect example of loving submission to the demanding will of God.

The giving of the Son is a gift too precious to fully comprehend, though we must try so to do.  He that hath the Son hath life – everlasting, abundant, divine life (as the Scriptures bear witness).  In the proclamation of good news the Church of God offers this amazing gift that is beyond price.  Blessed are they who receive him in penitence and faith, in joy and consecration!

Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit.  In the Petition we recognize two things, first that sin and the effects of sin are still present within baptized Christians, even as they aspire to holiness.  Second, we recognize that this should not be so.  Thus we ask God to give us grace so that: (a) we might both continually (always) receive the gift of the Son (both what he has done for us and what he has shown us to do) with gratitude and also (b) live lives in imitation of Jesus.  Let us consider each aspect of the petition, in turn.

Because the effects of sin stays with us as long as we are in our mortal bodies in this evil age, we are utterly dependent upon the assistance of divine help and mercy (grace) if we are to have thankful, receptive, believing and trusting hearts such that we might recognize and appropriate the amazing and eternal nature of the gift that is in the gospel.  A truly thankful heart is a great motivation to seek to do God's holy will.

And also endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life.  In the second part of the Petition we ask for the grace needed to imitate the blessed and holy life of Jesus.  In the Petition’s first clause we asked for the grace to be thankful as we receive the benefit of his death, now we are asking for joyfulness as we imitate the pattern of his life.  The request for joy is not explicit, but it is implied by the use of “blessed” to describe his life upon the earth.  Our confession that his life upon earth was blessed is a confession that it was good – that it was admirable and desirable.  He lived a holy life without sin, wholly submitted in love to the Father’s will.  The life of Jesus is the supreme example for the Christian to follow, day by day until life's end.[2]  The particular feature of Christ's example brought out by the Epistle is the patient bearing of undeserved indignities and rough usage (1 Peter 2:23).

Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Jesus, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, is God's gift and God's example to the ChurchBy continually receiving this gift and continually striving to follow the blessed example of our Lord’s life, Christian people will be truly what they are called to be – the Body of Christ on earth. This is a most appropriate message for Eastertide.

Peter Toon & Jason Patterson

© The Prayerbook Society

 

 


[1] Goulburn, 203.

[2] Note: "To endeavour oneself" is a reflexive verb not much in use today (for another important use of this verb, see The Form and Manner of Making Deacons in the BCP and the seventh answer to the questions, "I will endeavour myself, the Lord being my helper.").

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