Parsing the Collect
A weekly worship aid from the Interim Rector
The Fifth Sunday of Easter (aka, “Easter 5”, but NOT “the fifth Sunday AFTER Easter”)
(See my note on Parsings, Easter 2, to understand my distinction above)
Managing to take almost 2 weeks of vacation after Easter 2, I did not work on writing the Parsings column for Easter 3 and Easter 4. My apologies. I probably should have for Easter 4 as that is Good Shepherd Sunday, my current interim ministry. In any case, I’ll be filling in the several blanks that will be in existence before our interim ministry is completed.
As for the Collect of the Day for Easter 5, it used to be the Collect appointed for the feast of Ss. (saints) Philip and James, from the 1549 Boof of Common Prayer (BCP) through the 1928 BCP. It was then moved in the 1979 BCP to become the Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Easter. The collect that used to be for that Easter season Sunday was moved to become the collect appointed for the 5th Sunday in Lent. Ss. Philip and James Day received a brand new collect. If you are going to do your own followup research on those movements of collects, just remember that what is now called the 5th Sunday of Easter used to be called the 4th Sunday AFTER Easter.
If you are reading this Parsings in 2017 (or 2020, 2023, 2026,etc.), then you will note the direct allusion from the Gospel for this Sunday (Year A) into the collect. It is useful as a collect for Years B and C, too, but just not so explicitly.
Here’s the Collect for The Fifth Sunday of Easter:
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This is a powerful prayer, and it demands a lifetime of devotion to see in ourselves the greatest of fruit. The invitation or address to Almighty God is not only a statement of praise and truth in and of itself, but also a very succinct testimonial, as well as Good News proclamation. Some will balk ignorantly at the notion that there is only one way to everlasting life being stated as through “Almighty God,” but this is exactly the heart of the prayer request that follows. And it is, in fact, the great stumbling block of the Christian proclamation – as well as the greatest comfort of the Good News – that there is not A way, and A truth, but THE truth, and THE Life, that being Jesus Christ. The prayer request acknowledges that because Jesus Christ is God, and we are limited in our human wisdom and understanding, our “knowing” of Jesus is not perfect; it is imperfect, and we need God’s grace to gain awareness and knowledge of Jesus in our lives. This is the lifetime devotion aspect.
The second half of the petition acknowledges that if we ARE going to follow Jesus’ steps toward the goal and attainment of eternal life, then we do need to believe, and to gain in belief, that He is the way, the truth and the life. And no other. The way to eternal life is, by God’s design, through believing and following Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him, and He will lead you true.
Alleluia! Blessed be the Lord.