The Eighth Sunday after Trinity.
( . . . )
THY testimonies are wonderful : therefore doth my soul keep them.
130. When thy word goeth forth : it giveth light and understanding unto the simple.
131. I opened my mouth, and drew in my breath : for my delight was in thy commandments.
132. O look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me : as thou usest to do unto those that love thy Name.
133. Order my steps in thy word : and so shall no wickedness have dominion over me.
134. O deliver me from the wrongful dealings of men : and so shall I keep thy commandments.
( . . . )
O GOD, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Old Testament Reading: Zechariah 4.1-10
Psalter: Psalm 39, 41 | 37
Epistle Reading: Romans 8.12-17
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 7.15-21
Personal Reflections (MWP): At the time you are reading this I am on vacation with family out in the hinterlands of the U.S.A., nevertheless I couldn’t help but comment on this Collect. This is, again, one of my more favorite prayers, and I committed it to memory long, long ago. Its substantive simplicity is its brilliance. It breaks down into two segments, with the second opening out in two parts.
The declaration that God’s providence “ordereth all things” is inclusive of “heaven and earth.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q & A 11) succinctly defines God’s works of providence in this way: “God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.” The Collect goes further in announcing that God’s providence is “never-failing,” it can’t be thwarted by conspiracies, governments, catastrophes, or human schemes.
The first portion of the petition is stated somewhat in the negative. That God, by his never-failing-ordering-all-things-providence would put away from us “all hurtful things.” Here is the prayer of every Christian, especially as they face disease, frailty, combat, business disasters, etc. This part of the petition recognizes that God knows what’s hurtful for us, something that we don’t always comprehend.
The second portion is stated in a more positive way. That this God, by his never-failing-ordering-all-things-providence, would give us “those things which be profitable for us.” Again, this is the prayer of every Christian looking to move into the “happy issue out of all their afflictions” and on into better days and better ways. This part of the prayer also recognizes that God knows what is genuinely profitable for us, which we might not.
In both parts of this petition the supplicant is surrendering to God’s judgment about what is harmful, and what is profitable. This is a good and safe place to be. It seems to me that the Collect is wisely drawing from James 1.2-4, which I will close with: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
Saint James the Apostle
(25 July 2013)
Grant, O merciful God, that as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 45.1-5
Psalter: Psalm 34
Epistle Reading: Acts 11.27-12.3
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 20.20-28
Primus Pilus II