Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Unbind him and let him go!


Somewhat religious, or at least taken with Bible study on my own, and with theological assertions, rejecting ancient superstitions to think for self beyond the clouds and firmament, I see me as no spiritual being. Which, said often, surprises me not. But I do like to worry stuff. Such as our collect for Lent5:

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. 

Shifted variously among Sundays over the centuries, this collect appears in Gelasian, Gregorian, and Sarum, dating it to the late 7th century*. I love the old collects, as I love the good old hymns, though many are neither good nor old, and someone obviously loves the old prayers. But the fact is, in Anglicanism we say lex orandi lex credendi, which necessitates that when our hymnal is revised we check that each poem is not inconsistent with what we really believe; and to some extent at least, liturgical prayers also. 

This was done when Hymnal 1940 gave way to Hymnal 1982 (eg, “Once to every man and nation” deleted) and 1928 BCP to 1979 BCP (eg, noxious line in Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church revised). Collects were shifted, a few modified, some liturgists on the prayer book commission, longing for immortality, inserted their own collects (lamentably, this also happened on the hymnal commission, losing some popular and beloved old tunes to unsingable drivel); but largely the collects were brought forward from Cranmer and the ancients. 

With our notion of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, this traditionalism is not a bad thing, but each collect opens with a theological assertion, and theology from the Dark Ages needs examined lest it stand up in postmodernity as absurd. The Episcopal Church, in which my membership is cradle, lifelong, had been so traditional but now in the forefront of progressive Christian movement, needs to take notice of our collects that we love so dearly, because they conspicuously assert our theology at the opening of worship. From where I am and have been in life, from my observation post, while “you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners” may reflect an ideation of our God, I haven’t seen God actually controlling the generations of Adam since we were expelled from the Garden. Better this collect, and countless others, be enshrined among Historical Documents and newer “orandies” reflect today’s hopes and “credendies.” In other words, it's time to retire.

Better from Prayers for an Inclusive Church, authorized by General Convention, the new Lent5A collect that beautifully precedes Sunday’s gospel about Jesus raising Lazarus:

God of compassion, you call us out of the bindings of death on this, our resurrection day: make us ready to surrender the fear in which we hide, to step into your future alive and unashamed; through Jesus Christ, the life of the world. Amen.

DThos+ in +Time+

Picture: ship passing 7H in the dark at 8:04 pm last night. Certain of nothing and able to see only lights, no names, I think it may have been Federal Alster 655x78, arriving to load wood pellets to take to Ghent. 



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