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Fourth Sunday after Easter - 2014

The Fourth Sunday after Easter.

Psalm 82
Deus stetit
GOD standeth in the congregation of princes : he is a Judge among gods.
2. How long will ye give wrong judgement : and accept the persons of the ungodly?
3. Defend the poor and fatherless : see that such as are in need and necessity have right.
4. Deliver the outcast and poor : save them from the hand of the ungodly.
5. They will not be learned nor understand, but walk on still in darkness : all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6. I have said, Ye are gods : and ye are all the children of the most Highest.
7. But ye shall die like men : and fall like one of the princes.
8. Arise, O God, and judge thou the earth : for thou shalt take all heathen to thine inheritance.

The Collect.
O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 39.21-29
Psalter: Psalm 126, 127, 128 | 129, 130, 131
Epistle Reading: James 1.17-21
Gospel Reading: St. John 16.5-15

Toon: “This prayer originated in the Gelasian Sacramentary and passed into the Sarum Missal before being translated from Latin into English for the 1549 Prayer Book. Finally, it was revised for the 1662 Prayer Book. As it stands, it is as near a perfect specimen of a Collect form of prayer as one could wish to see.

There is the Address or Invocation - to Almighty God; then there is the Recital of a specific doctrine concerning God’s power in relation to man, achieved grammatically by means of the relative clause; this is followed by the long Petition, beginning with the strong verb, Grant, which petition is wholly based upon the foundation of the doctrine already remembered and rehearsed; and in turn the petition is followed by the Aspiration - that so our hearts may surely there be fixed. The Collect closes with the Pleading in the Name of Jesus Christ the Lord.

The foundation for the petition recalls before God and recites the biblical teaching that he alone, and only he, is able to order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men. These words of the initial relative clause balance perfectly with the two clauses of the actual petition that follows. That is, the unruly wills corresponds to the love of that which God commands, while the unruly affections corresponds to the desire of that which God promises.

We know from sacred Scripture and the experience of the saints that God the Father brings the wills and emotions/affections of sinful persons into order out of disorder, by the secret and hidden operations of the Holy Ghost. In this way human minds, hearts and wills are transformed by grace, and the change wrought in them is of such a nature that those persons in whom the Holy Ghost has so worked can only say with certainty that they know and feel that a change has taken place. They cannot tell how it occurred for that belongs to the secret operations of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.

The true Christian is one who delights in and loves what God commands. He is also one who seeks to obey God’s holy law, simply because he loves God and wants to do what God declares to be good and true and right. So the petition is that thy people may love the thing which thou commandest.

But it is also important that the Christian loves God and his law as, simultaneously, he also desires what God promises to his elect people - thus the aspiration. This will be so when his affections are set upon the heavenly realm where Christ rules at the Father’s right hand and where the society of angels and saints adore and praise Jesus Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings in all his authority and beauty.

The Christian who loves God’s law and desires to be with Christ in heaven will find that, in the varied and many changing circumstances of life, his central focus will be not in this world as such but on Christ Jesus in heaven, the center of all true and lasting joy. And the more he is focused on Christ the more will he be desirous and able to love God and his law and readily and happily obey him. He will rejoice with exceeding great joy as he loves the Lord and does his will, with his eyes of faith looking above where Christ is in all his glory. And with such a godly mind he will be the more useful on earth!

It is by making men loyal to his will, and to the hope of glory which he holds out to them in the Gospel, that God joins them together in the same mind and the same judgment. His precept and promise are the magnetic power which draw them into union one with another, and they are also the cement which holds them there, beginning in this age and being fulfilled in the glorious age to come.

Since there is one High Priest and one Mediator in heaven, Jesus Christ the resurrected Lord, the Prayer is offered to the Father in his Name.

Thus we have here not merely a perfectly formed Prayer but also a perfectly biblical Prayer. All that remains is that we pray it and it is fulfilled in our lives” (

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