“O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” (1928 Book of Common Prayer).Clergy, congregations and denominations often struggle with direction, sustainability and viability, especially in cloudy, complex seasons; or at least, one hopes that they do. The human predicament we find ourselves in makes fidelity difficult at times because we live in the twilight between the passing away of darkness and dawning of the light (1 John 2.8b).
True enough, God has entrusted us with his Holy Scriptures and guided the Church in her understanding of the Word of God throughout the millennia. Nevertheless, not every circumstance, or societal moral mess, is covered in a clearly marked way. That means each generation of the Church, in a greater or lesser degree, must wrestle with how to live faithful to our Lord Jesus in this specific community, during that national crisis, or in the midst of these critical moments. This aged and honorable prayer is a beautiful plea voicing that very dilemma, and reminding us of our utter dependence on God’s aid and grace.
It seems to me that no matter where you are on the political and social spectrum in the North America of 2013, this invocation needs to be employed by the whole of Christ’s Church; labored over with verve, pathos, and confidence; and striven with collectively. My challenge: That every Christian reader of this post would express and assent to this prayer, daily, for the remainder of 2013.
(A version of this piece was posted earlier today by me at centurions.blogspot.com)