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The Third Sunday of Advent - 2012

The Third Sunday in Advent.

The Collect.
O LORD Jesu Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

[The Collect from the First Sunday in Advent is to be repeated every day, with the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas-Eve.]

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 35
Psalter: Morning-52, 53; Evening-93, 94
Epistle Reading: 1 Corinthians 4.1-5
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 11.2-10

See my commentary on Isaiah 35 at my blog. Here is the link:

***Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr.: The Collect. This was composed in 1662 and is based on several phrases in the Epistle and Gospel, and also on Luke i.17 (a passage concerned with John the Baptist). The Old Testament background of these passages may be found in the words of the prophet Malachi (iii.1, iv.5-6). This is one of the few Collects in the Prayer Book directly addressed to Christ. The Christian ministry is likened to that of John the Baptist in the sense that it is a heralding of the Second Advent of our Lord—to turn the hearts of the unrepentant and disobedient to the life of righteousness, so that when He comes they may be accepted into his kingdom” (“The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary”, 1955, 94-5).

Shine Thou upon Us, Lord
John Ellerton, 1881

Shine Thou upon us, Lord, true Light of men, today,
And through the written Word Thy very self display,
That so from hearts which burn with gazing on Thy face
Thy little ones may learn the wonders of Thy grace.

Breathe Thou upon us, Lord, Thy Spirit’s living flame,
That so with one accord our lips may tell Thy Name.
Give Thou the hearing ear, fix Thou the wandering thought,
That those we teach may hear the great things Thou hast wrought.

Speak Thou for us, O Lord, in all we say of Thee;
According to Thy Word let all our teaching be,
That so Thy lambs may know their own true Shepherd’s voice,
Where’er He leads them go, and in His love rejoice.

Live Thou within us, Lord, Thy mind and will be ours;
Be Thou beloved, adored, and served with all our powers,
That so our lives may teach Thy children what Thou art,
And plead, by more than speech, for Thee with every heart.
The Original 1549 Collect:

“LORD, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart, by our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Barbee and Zahl on the original Collect:
“The succinct Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent assumes that our human heart has become dark. The Collect presupposes that by the time we reach the point where we should wish to pray this prayer, we would have found, by the sheer passage of years and chronicle of love’s disappointment, that our open and bright self had seized up. A personality once sunny and receptive could discover itself in the arid place of wishing to shut out the joy and light of life, let alone the grace of God, entirely.

The prayer sees the answer to our darkness as the light shining in the face of Christ (II Corinthians 4:6). “By thy gracious visitation, lighten the darkness.” Are you able to see the darkness of life’s conflictedness as dispelled by the ancient yet still present accompaniment of God-with-us? This is the love which pierces the darkness, even when you and I have covered over our windows, the eyes of our heart, with hammered shutters, wooden boards, duct tape, and clear-for-all-to-read “no trespassing” signs” (7).

Primus Pilus II
Michael Philliber
Edmond, OK