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.
– Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, the Book of Common Prayer
Because I might be best described as a casual Christian, I am frequently surprised by the sheer transcendency of the readings served up each day in the Lectionary. As I began preparing to write this day’s meditation, the Collect for the day made my heart beat faster and I abandoned my plan to try to encapsulate all of the lessons. The Psalms, especially Psalm 51, and the Lessons old and new were all familiar and well-loved and I have written about them many times in years past. I don’t recall, though, ever being quite so fixated upon the Collect; so perhaps the time has come.
Calling out to God that “you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners” and asking that he “Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise” could scarcely be better-stated to restore order to our chaotic planet. The words “swift and varied changes of the world” seem rather mild until examples begin running through the mind. Trying to imagine any latest and greatest improvement being sufficient for more than a moment is futile, and so asking that “our hearts may surely be fixed where true joys are to be found” has seldom if ever been more appropriate.
If it is your custom to look up and consider the readings in preparation for Sundays that is a good thing; there is so much more to consider than you can immediately absorb. If not, listen for the wisdom in our insightful Collects and allow the words space in your thoughts. They can open the way to a better understanding of the Lessons and perhaps a better path to travel as you leave Sunday worship.
Thanks be to God.
– Susan Leach
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ: give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Choral Evensong has always been my favorite service. I would go every day if it were offered where I live, though daily services are rare outside of monastic settings or the United Kingdom. The petition to “shield the joyous” especially touches me as I think of the vulnerability of those who are utterly happy. It has often come to mind in recent years as marriages and babies have blessed our family and created a great cocoon of happiness: Shield the joyous.
Now our nation is once again in mourning for the shattering loss of innocent souls and the beginning of lifetimes of suffering for their families. Trying to understand why people commit such heinous acts may be akin to looking for reasons why winds blow or rains come or fail to come; it is what they do. And yet we must try, perhaps to protect other happy, innocent people from unthinkable evils. Shield the joyous.
Pray for a calming presence to bless and protect these suffering souls, and all of the people in the world.
– Susan Leach
This is a day of the greatest possible joy for our family: our Daphne is one year old. She came to us exactly twelve months ago, placed into the waiting arms of our son and his wife, who received her with tears of joy.
Our family gathered at the hospital over the next few hours, coming quietly and with the greatest respect, knowing that the tears shed by her mother were of anguish beyond belief as she relinquished her daughter to other arms.
As the mother of four children I cannot imagine being as wise and brave as this young woman; yet all of us are meant to eventually release our children to the paths they must follow.
I think that Mary and Joseph must have understood that the son who came into their lives would become a man set apart, and that his path would some day take him from their home and family. We know that angels spoke to them about his beginnings, reassuring them that this was God’s plan. I believe that God must also speak to the mothers and fathers who willingly relinquish the care of their little ones to those who wait and pray.
Happy birthday, dearest Daphne, and blessings to you and your loving parents. I wish peace to the parents who gave you into the care of a couple who waited for so many years, and I am thankful beyond words to them for their loving and unselfish plan for you. Thanks be to God!
– Susan Leach