The BCP

First Sunday after Easter

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification: Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Collect Commentary

This one sentence Prayer is an excellent example of how to express reverence, doctrine and petition in a concise way.

Only in this Collect in The Book of Common Prayer is the specific invocation, "Almighty Father" actually used to begin a prayer. And in Eastertide this is most apt for, by the almighty power of God, the Father, Jesus was raised from the dead and by his resurrection his disciples are given the privilege of calling God, "Father", since they are adopted as his children, to be the brethren of Jesus Christ, the true Son.

The recital of what the Son of God has done for us is based upon Romans 4:24-25. "Jesus was delivered for our offences and raised for our justification." Jesus died as the Substitute for our sins, bearing them in his own body on the Tree (1 Peter 2:24). He was raised for our acquittal and justification. That is, God the Father raised him from the dead and by this glorious act proclaimed his acceptance of Christ's Atonement for the sins of the world and the basis of the receiving by him of repentant, believing sinners. Thus in the Gospel for this day (John 20:19-23) the Resurrected Jesus comes on the day of his Resurrection to his disciples in the upper room with the word of peace, grace and forgiveness.

The petition ("Grant us so to put away...") is based upon what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7,13: "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore, let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness." It is a firm prayer that we shall put away all forms of spiritual and moral evil and serve God both in moral soundness and doctrinal soundness. Both immorality and heresy can cause great harm to souls, individually and corporately. (The reference to leaven makes sense when we remember that for seven days after the Feast of the Passover the Jews sought to keep themselves clear from every kind of leaven.)

The Collect ends with a recalling that our salvation is not earned by us or deserved by us or won by us; but, it is only given to us by the grace and mercy of God the Father through the merits of his Son, Jesus Christ. He died as our Substitute and Representative and rose again for us to bring us acquittal before God the Judge and salvation from sin into the family and kingdom of God the Father almighty.

 

Epistle 1 John 5:4-12

WHATSOEVER is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood: and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

 

Gospel St John 20:19-23

THE same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.