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Collects: Advent 1: Grace to Stand in Judgement

The “Collects” (pronounced with a short ‘o’ like the ones in octagon) are some of the most beautiful prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. They are prayers for every Sunday of the year, given to us to center our thinking and prayers as we come before the Almighty in worship.

The pastor says this prayer, but this is a prayer for the whole congregation. The idea is that the prayers of all the people are ‘collected’ and offered before the Lord. All the people assent by saying, AMEN, and the worship of the people is centered and we are taught what we should be thinking about as we worship that day.

The collect for last Sunday is incredible. It is worth reflection. I think I may blog on these prayers a bit more often, but I definitely want to blog on this one. This beautiful prayer centers my heart on the expectation and responsibility of believers during Advent. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of
darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of
this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit
us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come
again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the
dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and
for ever. Amen

In this prayer, we are asking God for one thing: Grace. Without his grace everything I am about to say becomes worthless. We are broken people. We are incapable of taking a single step toward God. We cannot behave righteously. We cannot do works that please our Father. We desperately need his grace.

We ask for God’s grace for a purpose. We want God’s grace to help us cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. God’s grace is meant to empower us, a broken people, to put on the armor of light. We are to be empowered to behave righteously. It is something that we desire to do now, “in the time of this mortal life.” God’s grace isn’t only about the future. It is about the present. And, here we are, asking God to give us grace to live righteously and blamelessly in this present life.

We now get the opportunity to reflect on both of Christ’s comings. We live between the two Advents. The first is the one we celebrate at Christmas time. The second is the end of the age, when our King comes again to judge the living and the dead.

In the first coming, Jesus came in humility. In the second coming he comes in glory. In the first coming, Jesus came as Lamb. In the second coming, he will come as judge. He came once as a humble, Jewish, no-name peasant in the Roman Empire.  He will come again as the obvious King of the entire universe.

It is in light of this judgment that we turn in our prayer to the reason we need this grace: We need this grace, so that, in the time of final judgment, “we may rise to the life immortal.” God’s grace is to empower us to put on the armor of light, so that we may be raised up in the last day when God judges all of us.

The Lord will come. He will come soon. He will come as judge of the universe. We will all be judged for what we did in this life, and whether we cast off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Thankfully, God has given us everything we need to stand in this judgment. He has provided the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, who came in humility to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Put your faith in Him today. Trust His sacrifice. Repent, and turn to Him while there is still time. He is gracious, he forgives, and he empowers us to cast off darkness and put on light. Then, continue to join me in prayer for the grace to walk with Him, that when He comes in glory to judge the living and the dead, we will be found to be His faithful children.

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One Response

  1. I’m fascinated by the dichotomy between Jesus’ first coming and his second. However, the second coming of glory is only made possible because of his first coming in humility. It kind of sucks because humility comes before glory and I just sort of want the glory.

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