Collect for Advent 1:
“Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
I have to admit that I’m quite jealous of those who have the gift of writing prayers, especially the collects. Collects reflect the overall mood, the essence of our common worship together. They are the collective prayer for our worship. They reflect and inform many parts of the worship service. Want to know what we’re supposed to get out of the readings? Read the collect. Want to set a proper mood for a service? Write a fitting collect.
So we start off Advent with these words that evoke many images–but more than that, the collect for the First Sunday of Advent encompasses and captures so clearly the main themes of Advent.
Like the tag line from the Prego pasta sauce, “Prego. It’s in there!” I mean, everything about Advent is here, isn’t it? We’ve got the darkness into light theme–Jesus, the light of the world is coming into the world…the increasing brightness each week as we light an additional candle on the Advent wreath. We’ve got the paraphrase of Romans 13:12, “the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.” We’ve got the dual hope and expectation of Jesus that Advent brings: the Incarnation, Jesus’ coming now into this mortal life to be born for us again, and the second coming on the last great day when the Son of Man comes to judge the living and the dead. And, if THAT weren’t enough we have the hope of our resurrection, rising to new life in Christ. WHEW!
I get all excited when I am asked to bless a meal and I don’t get all tangled up in the prayer. I have profound respect for those who have written our collects. We have the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, to thank for this beautiful and rich collect which first appeared in the 1549 Prayer Book.
As we go through the coming weeks, let’s pay attention to the collects for Advent. They will instruct us a great deal…and they just get better and better as we go along.