Prayer for the week

The collect and its explanation

Collect

Seventh Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 15th July

Lord of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things:
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
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

Amos 7: 7 – 15; Psalm 85; Ephesians 1: 3 – 14; Mark 6: 14 – 29

Explanation

The Bible is full of family trees (always missed out on Sundays due to terminal boredom factor) but this collect with its horticultural image reminds us that we are now part of Jesus’ family tree.

We have done nothing to deserve inclusion in God’s family—therefore to be grafted is to be given a gift. We ask God to graft us into his tree and then we ask that we move from the passive reception of that gift into active receivership. We receive the gift and then we embrace, share, and grow it afterward.

“Increase in us true religion…” What is “true religion”? We know what we mean by bad religion – we see throughout the pages of Scripture and human history that religion can turn to evil and beget more evil in this world. However, this prayer points to the reality that there is good religion and Christianity is that good and true religion.

But what does it look like? True religion is the belief that our relationship with Jesus calls us to right worship and right living and far exceeds the confines of emotion or personal friendship. It is the understanding that our entire lives are to be offered to Jesus as an act of worship and that there is no separation of the sacred from the “profane” or the private from the public because when Jesus is Lord nothing else matters!

The fruit of God’s love and true religion will be good works. Simply put: to follow Jesus is to know him, to act as he has commanded, and to be agents in the world he loves.