The Third Sunday in Advent.
HEAR me when I call, O God of my righteousness : thou hast set me at liberty when I was in trouble; have mercy upon me, and hearken unto my prayer.
2. O ye sons of men, how long will ye blaspheme mine honour : and have such pleasure in vanity, and seek after leasing?
3. Know this also, that the Lord hath chosen to himself the man that is godly: when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.
4. Stand in awe, and sin not : commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still.
5. Offer the sacrifice of righteousness : and put your trust in the Lord.
6. There be many that say : Who will shew us any good?
7. Lord, lift thou up : the light of thy countenance upon us.
8. Thou hast put gladness in my heart : since the time that their corn and wine and oil increased.
9. I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest : for it is thou, Lord, only, that makest me dwell in safety.
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
Toon: “This Collect was written in 1661 by Bishop Cosin of Durham and inserted into the 1662 edition of The Book of Common Prayer, to replace the Collect that had been in there since the first edition of 1549. This was very brief: "LORD, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart..."
The Address. In The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 only three Collects are addressed to the Incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Advent 3, St Stephen's Day & Lent 1) while the rest are addressed to God, the Father. Here Jesus of Nazareth is thought of as the exalted Messiah, who has been given the name of "the Lord" by his Father. He reigns in heaven at the right hand of the Father as the Lord of lords and King of kings over the whole universe and also over the kingdom of the Father, wherein are all the redeemed and holy angels.
The Recollection. As we address the Lord Jesus Christ, we recall in his presence an aspect of that which he has done in salvation history in order for it to become the basis for our specific petition to him. And what we recall is that He as the Lord of history and salvation caused John the Baptist to prepare the way for himself, as the Messiah of Israel, and for his messianic ministry of bringing the message and power of the kingdom of God from heaven to earth. We are not here presuming to tell the Lord Jesus what He already knows perfectly; but, rather, we are remembering in his presence what we need to have in mind in this act of prayer.
The Petition. God's people pray especially this Sunday and during the week for those who are ordained ministers, that they may be faithful heralds of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ even as John the Baptist was a faithful herald of the ministry of the Messiah at the First Coming. The description of a Christian minister (from the original Greek words of the NT) is in terms of a rower (huperetes) in the Church's galley and as a steward (dispenser/housekeeper) in the household of God. As slaves/rowers in the Church's galley, ministers receive orders and the timing of their rowing from the Captain, who is also their pilot on the voyage. As stewards or housekeepers, ministers also serve those who attend Christ's Banquet with that which the Lord himself has provided (see the Epistle reading). If the ministers are faithful as rowers and stewards they will be God's agents in bring people to repentance from sin and commitment to holiness and service of the Lord.
This prayer for clergy is particularly meaningful on this Sunday for Advent 3 is an ember week and Advent 4 is traditionally a time for ordinations. The Aspiration. No-one knows when the Lord Jesus will return to earth in power and great glory and accompanied by the holy angels. Yet it is most necessary that the household of God, the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, be in such a state of faithfulness, godliness and preparedness, that they may be found an acceptable people at his Parousia/Appearing. They want to hear at the Judgement his words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."
In the Ember Weeks, to be said every day, for those that are about to be admitted into Holy Orders.
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who hast purchased to thyself an universal Church by the precious blood of thy dear Son; Mercifully look upon the same, and at this time so guide and govern the minds of thy servants the Bishops and Pastors of thy flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no man, but faithfully and wisely make choice of fit persons, to serve in the sacred Ministry of thy Church. And to those which shall be ordained to any holy function, give thy grace and heavenly benediction; that both by their life and doctrine they may show forth thy glory, and set forward the salvation of all men; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
ALMIGHTY God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed divers Orders in thy Church; Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all those who are to be called to any office and administration in the same; and so replenish them with the truth of thy doctrine, and endue them with innocency of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name, and the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.