Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (BCP, p. 832)
This prayer has been on my heart and my mind a bunch lately. Not only is it the one we’ve used to help in our reimagining Advent’s voyage with God in the year to come, it was also used as the postcommunion (yes, that’s how you spell it) prayer at the Service of Repentance and Reconciliation hosted by Bishop Wright on October 22 at the Cathedral of St. Philip.
I’ll admit to the collect’s comprehensiveness and thus it’s capacity for use in multiple applications. I’m also OK with saying that what Bishop Wright was about that night was different from our use, although not entirely. Suffice it to say the prayer works for both of us.
In the case of Bishop Wright’s use, the prayer encouraged those gathered that night to move into a time and place we are still learning to describe. His sermon -- as I’ve already said, “one of his best” – was a very good beginning toward reinterpreting racism as it has evolved through these last 50+ years.
In our case we’ve articulated an understanding of Advent’s movement into doing what God is asking of us that includes more collaboration with our neighbors. But instead of jumping into “collaboration” maybe we should first talk with our neighbors about neighborhoods and neighborliness. It might be exactly what we can do best at this point: host a gathering for sharing, for telling stories, and most of all for listening.
A time may come for us to extend our Bishop’s call for repentance and reconciliation specifically through Advent’s collaborations but for now let’s ask God to so draw our hearts, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills and see what kind of neighbors we can become.