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Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity MMXII

Let thy continual pity, O Lord, cleanse and defend thy Church: since without thee it is not able to stand fast firmly, may it ever be governed by thy goodness, through ...

Ecclesiam tuam, Domine, miseratio continuata mundet et muniat:et quia sine te non potest salva consistere, tuo semper munere gubernetur, per
[Gelasian Sacramentary]

Introit: Bow down thy ear O Lord..
Ps:  Rejoice the soul of thy servant...
Epistle: Galatians 5:25-6:10  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit ...
Gradual: It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord...
Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34  No man can serve two masters...

The original English translation from 1549 "LORD, we beseche thee, let thy continual pitie clense and defende thy congregacion; and, because it cannot continue in safetie without thy succoure, preserve it evermore by thy helpe and goodnes; through Jesus Christ our Lorde."

This prayer is similar to last Sunday's wherein the people prayed for God's mercy to keep the Church. This following Sunday it is for his pity to cleanse and defend it. Why "pity" and "mercy".  Pity is what God has for the church, and mercy is his action in response to that pity.  It is not for a specific shortcoming or error in the church, but in recognition of the Church's frailty, a standing request for his continual (continuata) pity and action to cleanse it from errors that arise, and to protect it from the Devil, the wiles of adversaries, and the world.

Why this prayer? Simply because the Church recognized that it was not able to continue in safety on its own. It had experienced time and again internal and external struggles, persecutions, and failings over the early centuries. Although it had finally reached a state of legitimacy from the civil government, it was threatened from without by the barbarians and invaders from the north who had adopted the Arian heresy.  The Church of this era plead for God's succor to keep it in safety, and perhaps most importantly to Govern it in Goodness.

We need this prayer today! The threat to the Church comes from without and within. 

From without: Patriots Day 2012, September 11th, Americans paused and remembered the many who fell to the radical Attack on America 11 years ago on. It was an attack based on Muslim striking Christian, and as old as the assaults of the 7th-16th century Jihads.  Meanwhile, on this Patriots Day, Islamic radical groups attacked US Embassies in Egypt and Libya: raising Muslim flags, killing Americans, burning the American flag, ransacking the grounds, and shouting curses against America, the Christian nation, in the name of their prophet. Throughout the Middle East Christian communities continue to suffer persecutions at the hands of these people. The assaults on America and Churches of Christ continue as I write this.

From within: Many have failed to stand firm faith. They have chosen to follow the world rather than the Lord. They have adopted secular causes as their mission, while completely abandoning the Great Commission.  They refuse to declare our Lord's salvation as the way, truth and life.  They have been rebuked by the faithful churches, but continue as the blind leading the blind.  I fear for them and pray that they may repent and return to the true faith, lest God spew them out and withdraw his light from among them (Revelation 3:16). Let those who have ears hear, and let them that follow God walk in the Spirit as Paul preached in today's epistle. For a church cannot both follow the world and the Lord. He said in the Gospel "No man can serve two masters".

Chrysostom on the Gospel

(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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