Sunday, December 25, 2005

Collects to Pray on Christmas Day

[A brief message to those who have received my e-mail tracts over the last year. MAY YOU HAVE A BLESSED AND JOYFUL TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. Now please read on. Thanks. Peter Toon.]

In the Ecclesia Anglicana before she began to use English (as the Church of England) for the whole of the Liturgy in 1549, there were Three Latin Collects for Christmas Day. The Missal of Sarum (Salisbury) in use up to 1549 made provision for three Masses for this high festival – one at cockcrow, one at the break of dawn, and one in full daylight. (No midnight Mass then!)

At the Mass at cockcrow the Collect prayed (in translation):

O God, who madest this most sacred night to shine with the brightness of the true Light; Grant, we beseech thee, that we, as we have known the revelations of the Light upon earth, so we may also have the fruition of his joys in heaven; who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth one God world without end. Amen.

This recalls Jesus as the Light of the world especially as he is so presented in the Prologue and Text of the Gospel according to St. John.

At the Mass at dawn the Collect prayed:

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, to us upon whom the new light of the Word made flesh is shed forth, that the light which shines by faith in our hearts may also shine brightly in our works. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

This also specifically recalls the Prologue of the Gospel according to St. John.

At the Mass in the full light of day the Collect prayed:

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that the new birth of thy only-begotten Son through the flesh may set free those, who are held fast by the old bondage under the yoke of sin. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Here the Incarnation of the Son of God, born from Mary his virgin mother, is seen as the basis for the salvation offered to us through the same Jesus Christ.

In the provision for the new Book of the Common Prayer (1549), the reformed Church of England provided only one Collect along with the Epistle and Gospel set for the third Mass in the Latin Church. However this Collect was a new creation from the hand of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

Almighty God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
In this Collect we have a most beautiful combination of sound doctrine and of inspired petition.

The Son of God was the Second Person of the Holy Trinity before he took to himself human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary. At the Annunciation and Conception, Mary conceived Jesus miraculously by the presence of the Holy Ghost; at the same time the Son of God who had eternally his divine nature acquired the beginnings of a human nature, so he became One Person made known in two natures, divine and human.

As the Son of God was born according to his human nature from Mary, Blessed Virgin, so each of us is to be born of the Holy Ghost into the kingdom of God and thereby made into the adopted children of God, through the love of the Father and the grace of the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

And as the Son of God in his human nature lived as Jesus of Nazareth, fulfilling the vocation of the Messiah and Suffering Servant of God, so we are to fulfill the vocation of the children of God called unto holiness and service in the kingdom and church of God our Father.

Christmas is a time for rejoicing with the heavenly host that the Son of God has become man for us and our salvation. It is also a time to see and accept what is the vocation of the regenerate children of God and by the help of the Holy Ghost fulfill the same.


Peter Toon December 23, 2005

1 comment:

Death Bredon said...

The Nativity Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

"I behold a new and wondrous mystery!

My ears resound to the shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but loudly chanting a heavenly hymn!

The angels sing!

The archangels blend their voices in harmony!

The cherubim resound their joyful praise!

The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead herein... on earth and man in heaven. He who is above now, for our salvation, dwells here below; and we, who were lowly, are exalted by divine mercy!

Today Bethlehem resembles heaven, hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and, in place of the sun, witnessing the rising of the Sun of Justice!

Ask not how this is accomplished, for where God wills, the order of nature is overturned. For He willed He had the powers He descended. He saved. All things move in obedience to God.

Today He Who Is, is born ! And He Who Is becomes what He was not! For when He was God, He became man-while not relinquishing the Godhead that is His...

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him angels, nor archangels, nor thrones, nor dominions, nor powers, nor principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His incarnation has He ceased being God. And behold kings have come, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven; Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of childbirth into joy; Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin...

Infants, that they may adore Him who became a little child, so that out of the mouths of infants He might perfect praise; Children, to the Child who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod; Men, to Him who became man that He might heal the miseries of His servants;

Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd who was laid down His life for His sheep;

Priests, to Him who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek;

Servants, to Him who took upon Himself the form of a servant, that He might bless our stewardship with the reward of freedom (Philippians 2:7);

Fishermen, to the Fisher of humanity;

Publicans, to Him who from among them named a chosen evangelist;

Sinful women, to Him who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant woman;

And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! Since, therefore, all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice! I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival! But I take my part, not plucking the harp nor with the music of the pipes nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ!
For this is all my hope!

This is my life!

This is my salvation!

This is my pipe, my harp!

And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels and shepherds, sing:

"Glory to God in the Highest! and on earth peace to men of good will! "