Thursday, May 15, 2008

Proper 1

Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Take a good look at this prayer. You may never see it again. Let me know if you want an explanation of the arcane rubrics in the (American) Book of Common Prayer that lead to this collect's obscurity, but, as those rubrics stand, anyone reading this post will long since have assumed room temperature before it is again officially prescribed for liturgical use after Morning Prayer this coming Saturday.

That doesn't mean one can't come back to it in the course of private or extra-liturgical devotion, and I hope many do, for it is a gem of Christian piety in general and an exemplar of Anglican spirituality in particular. It crystallizes the dialectical tension between the present reality of our salvation ("what you have wrought in us") and the ongoing process of living into that reality ("make us worthy of our calling"). We do not deserve God's grace, yet He has "wrought" a new creation within us through His grace. We are not inherently worthy to be His followers, but that same grace is ready to make us worthy.

The late great A. M. Ramsey once wrote (I wish I could recall the citation): "God does not call those who are fit; He fits those whom He calls." I am grateful for that insight just about every day of my life. And I'm grateful that the Collect for Proper 1--here today and then gone for a long while--brings it to the forefront of the Church's attention this week.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father Dan+, for helping us understand this wonderful collect. I too wish it came around more often. How blessed we are that God continues to pour out love and gifts upon us despite our unworthiness. The quote from Ramsay is comforting when we feel unworthy of our calling (which, I agree, is on a daily basis). God Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your willingness to share! These are the kinds of things that help me to understand that I am here for a reason, and that I really need to listen to Him and what it is that I should be doing to glorify Him.

Your Brother in Christ,


Anonymous said...

Dan --

It is a lovely prayer. Following Marion Hatchett I see that it was translated by J. Armitage Robinson, a scholar and priest much involved in the 19th century revival of religious life in the Church of England. Robinson's translation of the collect, from the 4th Century Leonine Sacramentary, was included as an occasional prayer in the 1928 English Proposed Book.