Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Considering Collects: Advent 2

O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power
and come among us,
and with great might succour us;
that whereas, through our sins and wickedness
we are grievously hindered
in running the race that is set before us,
your bountiful grace and mercy
may speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honour and glory, now and for ever.

Only a week into Advent and I'm losing the momentum already.                                                                                                                               There is all the usual tide of seasonal busyness as we offer our own liturgical journey towards Christmas, while the city's schools descend upon the Cathedral in droves for Christmas services, awards evenings etc, on the nights when we're not hosting concerts or a multitude of other events. This year there are also 3 significant funerals (of course EVERY funeral is significant, each life eternally precious, each bereaved family worth of infinite love and support) - 1 for a much-loved member of the Cathedral's own family, the others, for the wider city, involving the management of large crowds of mourners. It's really hard not to get bogged down, to lose sight of all that "standing on tip-toe" joyous expectation that we find in the daily antiphon "Look towards the east, O Jerusalem, and see the glory that is coming from God".

This year and every year, I so easily get stuck - which is why this collect is such a gift for Advent 2, inviting God to take the initiative as only God can.                                                My dictionary informs me that "succour" finds its way to us from Latin via Old French:succursus - God running towards us, intent on rescue "when we were yet far off", mired in our own sins and wickedness, that trip us up at every turn so that our forward momemtum is negligible.
Advent can feel like an assault course, particularly for those working in our churches, whether as clergy, musicians, teachers, mince pie makers or "just" welcomers - one of the most vital ministries of all. Turns out its actually an obstacle race, in which we create our own hurdles, tunnels and wobbly bridges...but the One to whom we are making our hesitant, half hearted way is already running to meet us, and won't rest til we are safely home.

That, my friends, is Grace  in action!

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