Prayer for the week

The collect and its explanation

Collect

Epiphany 3 – Sunday 20th January

Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles
the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your mighty power;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Readings

Isaiah 62: 1 – 5; Psalm 36; 1 Corinthians 12: 1 – 11; John 2: 1 – 11

Explanation

The collect challenges us to reflect on weakness. How can we celebrate weakness without glorifying it? We can so easily reinforce a culture which acclaims mediocrity, which denigrates comparison and competition, in which standards are so low that there is no striving to reach them.

There is a danger too of applauding those who make a show of their struggles. Just as those who are proud of their humility, or carefully guard the ownership of their poverty, there are some who abuse their weakness as a force. The quiet hard worker whose contribution is invisible because so well prepared may get less recognition. Even in the liturgical sphere some extol the spontaneous over the prepared – as if the Holy Spirit can only act through the impromptu and is absent from hours of careful, prayerful preparation.

Weakness is only positive if it drives us into the sustaining arms of God. If our focus is on our weakness rather than on God, the point of this collect is lost.