Sunday worship in an Episcopal Church always starts with a Collect, a particular type of prayer intended to focus one’s attention on a general theme of worship. Collects are set for each Sunday of the year and reflect the theological direction of the church as represented by their authors, who extend from far back in the Catholic tradition to today. Considering the events of the last week I was especially drawn to the wisdom of the Collect for today:
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
According to one commentator, this Collect may date from the time of Pope Leo the Great in the 5th century and remembers the turmoil caused by barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire. It remains one of the most timely prayers for each era of the last 1,500 years, and never more than for us this week, not because we are in greater turmoil than ever, we are not, but because we have too easily given our allegiance to things that are passing away.