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The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity MMXII

ALMIGHTY and merciful God, of whose gift it cometh that thou art served worthily and laudably by thy faithful ones; Grant, that we may run after thy promises without stumbling; through ... 

Omnipotens et misericors Deus, de cuus muere venit, ut tibi a fidelibus tuis digne et laudabiliter serviatur, tribue, ut ad promissiones tuas sine offensione curramus, per
[Leonine Sacramentary]

Introit: Make haste, O God, to deliver me
Ps:  Let them be turned backward and put to confusion
Epistle: 2 Cor 3:4-11  And such trust as we have through Christ to God-ward:
Gradual: I will bless the lord at all times:
Gospel: Mark 7:31-37  And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon...

In the first English translation, Thomas Cranmer changed the collect to read as shown here: 

ALMIGHTY and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises; through ...

This original prayer gives credit to the correct source. True and laudable service is not something we have a right to boast in, but rather to be thankful for in that God has so called us and inspired us to serve and worship him, and has given to us gifts for service.  If it were not for his will in our lives, there would be no laudable service.  

The problem I have with Cramner's version is that it makes God's grace seem conditional. That was not the prayer of the early church, but was certainly the understanding of the medieval church--which was heavily works-oriented with a belief that one had to earn one's way into heaven through works.

In the early Church the collect called the folk to run to his promises. We find those promises enshrined in such verses as John 3:16, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." and, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." 

But what of Christian service?  It is a fruit of this communion the elect have with the Holy Ghost. God gives each of his own a role and and a way according to the measure of faith he has granted, and gifts he has bestowed.  

This truth is expounded by Paul in today's epistle. He wrote, "Such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; and again by the Prophet Zechariah, the LORD spoke saying, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit." 

Our primary service then is one faith, and a concomitant service of following Christ and imitating his goodness in our daily lives through love of our neighbor as he calls and enables us so to do. Some are called to a special ministry as Paul explained saying, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers"  But to all his he gave the gift of faith and the power to believe. That is a common work for all who have been called.

An homily of Chrysostom on today's epistle

ps. one may note that the collects in the BCP are off  by one since Trinity 3 from those in the Lutheran Service Book. 


(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United Lutheran Press, Philadelphia)
The Ancient Collect: Its history and form
Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]


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