18th Sunday after Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God,
increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind
and reaching out to that which is before,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
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.


Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 121; 2Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8


Our collect this week is bursting with Scriptural references. (Philippians 3:13 and Psalm 119:32 to name but two). It tackles one of the fundamental difficulties we have as humans which is letting go of our past mistakes. The collect prays that we might “forsake what lies behind” and this is really quite hard as we all carry around in our memories things we have said and done that we regret. Such regrets can leave us also with a burden of guilt and shame and these emotions have tremendous durability. We easily forget happy days and normal days but bad days stay fresh in their awfulness for ages.

All of this – bad memories, regrets and guilt weigh us down and pull us back and stop us embracing God’s generous “gift of faith” to the full – we literally have to “reach out” or stretch away from these weights to be able to go forward. The gift of faith is the ability to live out the commandment that Jesus gives us to love God with all our being and to love our neighbours as ourselves.

We are often very bad at seeing ourselves as God sees us – we forget that we are wonderfully and mysteriously made, that we are utterly loved, and then we tend to forget too that everyone around us is also loved in the same way and we fall into our usual traps of judging and criticising.

If we begin to be able to live out this most challenging collect then we will indeed have earned our “crown of joy”.