The meditation on the Collect Prayer for the Fifth Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Each time I have read or prayed this collect I am drawn to the portion in which we pray for the grace to love God’s commands. These words grab a hold of me because I am reminded that to be a Christian, a follower of the Way, means surrendering our free will to God; admitting that we don’t always make the best choices, we don’t do well when we go it alone. Admitting this is only part of the equation though, we also have to pray and listen, to seek and to find God. And even that is only one part of the larger whole. Once we have admitted our need for God, once we have spent time in prayer, we realize that we cannot do this on our own. We come to realize that we need the grace to actually pattern our lives to God’s will.
The choices we make to follow God are not always easy to see. We are not often met with a fork in the road where we can clearly see that one is a wide smooth path of fame and fortune, while the other is the narrow bumpy path of discipleship. If it were that easy to see the difference we wouldn’t need to pray for God’s grace because we would be able to see clearly which is the path of God. If only it were that easy. Instead, we often encounter a field of grey.
The path of discipleship is indeed narrow, it is counter-cultural. Society pulls at each of us with tremendous force. The lure of what is popular or convenient or full of praise can sway us from God’s will. In order to be ready for the ever present pull of society we each need to be thinking about how do we continually, day after day, choose to live out God’s will; to make the daily choice of walking the path of discipleship instead of following our own desires, our own will. And when we fall away and follow the devices and desires of our own heart, how to do we come back to the will of God?
We come back, by remembering that God does not hold a score card of our rights and wrongs. Nor does God ever take away his love for us. Part of what we are praying for this Sunday is the grace to recognize God’s will in our lives and the courage to follow it. The fixed point in our ever changing world is God. He has been, he is, and he always will be. God is consistent. God is consistent in his love and care for us. We live in a world that changes so quickly, a world that shifts priorities with the ever-changing political leaders our time. We live in a world that is brought closer together with each technological advance; the pull of the world can become unrecognizable from one generation to the next. But it is not so with God. God is the fixed point from which we orient our lives. And so when we stray, we can choose to reorient ourselves to our unchanging God. Our everyday choices become our return to a path to discipleship.
In this week to come, may God give you grace to hear his will and the courage to follow it. May you not be moved by our chaotic world, but instead be transformed by our unchanging God. All this we ask though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.