The meditation on the Collect Prayer for the Third Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
As we continue our journey through Lent we continue to wrestle with the themes of sin, repentance, and reconciliation. The collect prayer for the Third Sunday in Lent hits us hard and right at the beginning of the prayer no less! “Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves.” This is a powerful statement. It is not uplifting and is completely devoid of hope. There is nothing that we can do that will help ourselves. There is absolutely nothing we can do to save us from ourselves.
It is hard for us to deal in absolutes because we are a creative being blessed with reason that allows us to find solutions to the problems in our lives. But despite our best abilities we cannot overcome our inclination to sin; there is no hope in ourselves that will save us. This sense of hopelessness is very real in that each of us can think back to an experience in our lives when we felt that utter hopelessness; nothing will change. I have felt the deep dark abyss that is hopelessness.
It was in that darkness I realized that I had to stop trying to make things better and to submit, wholly and completely submit myself to the will of God. It is in that submission and letting go that I found hope; in no longer trying to make my will be done and submitting to the will of the Lord, light pierced the darkness and hope returned to my heart and soul.
Therein lies our salvation, it is precisely because we cannot save our selves from our selves that God took on human form so that we could be saved and no longer slaves to sin and death, but through incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God gave us a pathway back to Him. God has redeemed us through Christ. God has saved us. God has redeemed us from our sinful nature. And God is bringing us into deeper relationship with him.
So it is that on this third Sunday in Lent we ask God in our collect prayer to protect our bodies and souls; to defend us from all temptations and trials that would cause us to stray from the will of God separate us from the love of God. As your journey continues through this holy season of Lent let go of your will and submit to the will of God; and may God protect you and keep you, defend you on every side from the works of evil so that you may be an agent of God’s love and peace in the world. Amen.