The First Sunday after the Epiphany.
O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 60.1-9
Psalter: Psalm 47, 48 | 66, 67
Epistle Reading: Romans 12.1-5
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 2.41-52
Barbee and Zahl: “In the Gregorian prayer underlying the Collect, the word translated “prayer” is vota, votive offerings, thus linking the Wise Men and their gifts to the Epistle originally appointed for this day: Romans 12:1-5. ( . . . ) All the Collect asks of God is that He hear or “receive” the asking, and that He help the one who prays to perceive what he or she ought to do. And whatever that turns out to be, to aid the person in doing it. A more succinct, less pompous prayer could scarcely exist. Pray it today, specifically in that area of confusion where you really do not know what to do. If the prayer is spoken as open-endedly as it is written, you will get your answer” (16-7).
My Personal Observation: Clergy, Congregations and denominations often struggle with direction, sustainability and viability, especially in cloudy, complex seasons; or at least, one hopes that they do. The human predicament we find ourselves in makes fidelity difficult at times because we live in the twilight between the passing away of darkness and dawning of the light (1 John 2.8b). True enough, God has entrusted us with his Scriptures and guided the Church in her understanding of the Word of God. Nevertheless, not every circumstance is covered in a clearly marked way. How do we live faithful to our Lord Jesus in this specific community, during this national crisis, or in the midst of these critical moments? This Collect is a beautiful prayer voicing that very dilemma, and reminding us of our utter dependence on God’s aid and grace. It seems to me that no matter where you are on the political and social spectrum in the North America of 2013, this Collect needs to be employed by the whole of Christ’s Church; labored with verve, pathos, and confidence; and striven with collectively. My challenge: That every member of the Order would express and assent, daily, to this Collect for the remainder of 2013.
Primus Pilus II