The BCP

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect Commentary

Here we recognise that the Church on earth needs both cleansing by the Divine Pardon and defence by the Divine Providence.

The Church, militant here on earth, is engaged in a spiritual war against the world, the flesh and the devil, and this is so even when it seems that the local society & government are partially supportive of the presence and aims of the Church of God. It is so easy for the refinements and ethos of the world to be absorbed by the Church and for them to affect her worship, her doctrine, her discipline, her ways of operation and so on, so that she is compromised and falls short of the fullness of her vocation.

Thus the Church not merely asks but beseeches (asks with intensity of feeling and conviction) the Lord our God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to help. In a vital sense this is what the Church does in part daily in her Morning and Evening Prayer and when she celebrates the Holy Communion. She confesses her sins and asks for the divine forgiveness. But this Collect contains a special, extra request because of a felt and real need. The Church needs the continued and continual Pity/Mercy of God both to cleanse her members and to defend them from all adversity, especially from enemies of the soul. And by members are meant both clergy and laity, bishops and doorkeepers.

Any society or organisation can get to the point where it begins to think that it is self-sufficient. The Church can begin to think that she is doing pretty well with a casual relation to God. But when she sees the true situation, that she is at war with real enemies of Christ & his Gospel, then she knows that she cannot continue as his army without his continued and continual succour. Further, she knows that she cannot stand firm today and tomorrow without his presence, help and goodness.

Today, it is common to speak of the secularisation of Christianity and of the accommodation of the agenda of the Church to that of humane and liberal society. And such is basically true of the denominations of the Western world. So this is surely a Prayer to be offered by all who know and feel that the Church in the West is far too much accommodated to the society and not sufficiently critical of its norms and ethos. We are to be in the world and for the world but NOT of the world.

The Epistle provides us with an example of the prayers of the apostle Paul and thereby encourages not only in prayer but in right praying. The Gospel presents Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life and who has the power to bring back to life dormant and apostate churches.

 

Epistle Ephesians 4. 1-6

I DESIRE that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 

Gospel St Luke 14. 1-11

AND it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier; and they that bare him stood still: and he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak: and he delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all, and they glorified God, saying, that a great Prophet is risen up among us, and that God hath visited his people. And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.