Today’s collect is attributed to the 5th century Pope Leo the Great and has been in constant use since then.
The collect stresses the fellowship of the church. This is important to be reminded of as some would view the church as a society of individual Christians who band together as the best way to do the Lord’s work. Others regard each such local gathering as ‘The’ church in its entirety. And there are others who, in their spiritual quest, seek a direct and perhaps mystical way to God with scant regard for an Organised church.
As with all fellowships, there are always those outside. There will be differing reasons for this. There are those who have never heard the gospel story and there are those who have rejected or neglected the call. Our collect for today, though, restricts our prayers to a more specific scenario. It is a prayer for those who have strayed from the fold: those who are “wanderers from the path of righteousness”.
Our prayer today is that those who have wandered may come back. How are they to be brought back? By the living evangelism of loving Christian behaviour.
In a church in Chiswick, there is an inscription over the main door. It is on the inside so as to be read when you leave. It quotes John’s Gospel “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd”. These words are a clear reminder of our responsibility to show in our lives the love of Jesus Christ.