Sunday, November 15, 2015

Collect for the twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity

Latin collect from the Sarum Missal
Absolve quesumus domine tuorum delicta populorum. et a peccatorum nostrorum nexibus quae pro nostra fragilitate contraximus tua benignitate liberemur.

[My translation: Absolve, we beseech Thee O Lord, the failings of Thy people and, from the bonds of our sins which we have wrought according to our frailty, free us by Thy goodness...]

Prayer book of 1549
LORD we beseche thee, assoyle [absolve] thy people from their offences, that through thy bountiful goodnes we maye bee delyvered from the handes of all those synnes, whiche by our frayltye we have committed : Graunt this, et c.

Prayer book of 1662
O LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

One of the most famous ghost stories has to be Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and in this clever little book we have the dreadful image of Jacob Marley doomed to spend undefined ages wandering the earth in chains that he has made for himself, link by link, through his meanness and unscrupulous money-lending. Dickens' point is very clear: we human beings are the authors of our own misery because we fail to see the simple delights of goodness.

Ebenezer Scrooge, himself, is the victim of neglect and abuse from his childhood and, despite the simple joys of being in employment with the jolly Mr Fezziwig, allows the hurts of his history to nurture demons of self-interest, grasping and avarice.

Like Scrooge, we walk with the scars of the failings of those around us, their injustices branded upon our memories and, even our bodies. We are justified in being angered by injustice, especially when it is against us. Yet, if we want to recover the true joy of live and of living, we have somehow to let go of that injury; we somehow have to allow it to have happened; we have to forgive even as we are forgiven. Only then can we be forgiven for the hurts we have wrought others.

For man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. By grasping the hand of God, we are pulled together and out of darkness. It is He that looses us from these chains so that we do not carry them around with us. We still have to let those chains drop, though.

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