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The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity - 2013

The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
Psalm 119.145-152
Clamavi in toto corde meo
145 I CALL with my whole heart : hear me, O Lord, I will keep thy statutes.
146 Yea, even unto thee do I call : help me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
147 Early in the morning do I cry unto thee : for in thy word is my trust.
148 Mine eyes prevent the night-watches : that I might be occupied in thy words.
149 Hear my voice, O Lord, according unto thy loving-kindness : quicken me, according as thou art wont.
150 They draw nigh that of malice persecute me : and are far from thy law.
151 Be thou nigh at hand, O Lord : for all thy commandments are true.
152 As concerning thy testimonies, I have known long since : that thou hast grounded them for ever.

The Collect
O GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant, that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Note the change from the 1549 BCP: "O GOD, for asmuche as without thee, we are not able to please thee; Graunte that the workyng of thy mercie maye in all thynges directe and rule our heartes; Through Jesus Christ our Lorde.")

Old Testament: Job 24.1-17
Psalter: 114, 115 | 107, 70
Epistle: Ephesians 4.17-32
Gospel: St. Matthew 9.1-8

     Personal Reflections (MWP): The 1662 BCP expands the Collect to rightly identify our need for God to "mercifully grant that" his "Holy Spirit" would direct and rule our hearts in all things. Jesus promised his people that when he was glorified after his death and resurrection he (and the Father) would send the Spirit of truth who would lead his people into all truth, and who would testify of our Lord Jesus (John 14-16). We need God's guidance and direction. In many ways the Scriptures are like a topological map, describing the contours of the terrain, land marks, and camp sites. But without a compass to keep our bearings, we may easily get lost, misread our map and end up in a completely other place. When our Boy Scout troop was doing it's two week trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in 2012, we saw this exact thing happen. A troop from Manhattan got all turned around and went over 15 kilometers out of its way, because the navigator didn't use his compass. And so, correctly, we pray for the Father to send us the Holy Spirit who makes "the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation" (Westminster Shorter Catechism 89).

     In 2 Corinthians 10.12-11.4, Paul notes that there are many shysters who are running around, attempting to woo God's people in other directions, getting them off the right trail. These fellows are all about "measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves" (10.12). The Apostle then brings this home to the Corinthians by exposing his fear that "the serpent" who "beguiled Eve through his subtility" might have corrupted their minds "from the simplicity that is in Christ" (11.3). This Collect becomes a medicinal dose for us. In it we acknowledge that we are prone to listen to all the wrong voices and might easily lose our way ("forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee"). We need God's merciful gift, the Holy Spirit, to come and direct us, rule us (and thus to sometimes overrule us) so that we stay on the right footpath. In fact we need him to do this from the inside out, "our hearts." As Solomon points out, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4.23). The goal of the Collect is that the Holy Spirit will guide and rule our hearts through Jesus Christ our Lord. The Jesus-focused Spirit will always guide us to Jesus, and through Jesus to the Father (Ephesians 2.18).

     How fitting is this Collect for the 21st Century Church, whether in North America, North Africa, or Northern Ireland! Now storms are brewing on the horizon, winds are picking up, dust is starting to fill the air and cloud our ability to see our direction clearly. Therefore we need our Father's merciful gift of the Holy Spirit. We need him to come, guide, rule and overrule our hearts through Jesus our Lord, so that we may become like the sons of Issachar, "which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (1 Chronicles 12.32).

     Let us pray:
     "O GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant, that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."


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