Summary: The collect for Trinity 1 is a prayer made for us all as it identifies our real need and our dependence upon God - it puts everything into perspective. Many of the great have fallen from high office or fallen out of favour from such a lack of dependence.
Collect for Trinity 1 and John Newton
The collect for the 1st Sunday after Trinity is a prayer made for me and made for you.
It’s a prayer that identifies our real need and our dependence upon God.
It is a prayer that if we our honest with ourselves puts everything into perspective.
How many great men or women have you known who have fallen from high office or fallen out of favour with the public image?
How many have we put on a pinnacle only to see them fall because of their human nature.
And this is how our collect starts, recognising our humanity, our human weakness "the weakness of our mortal nature".
It doesn’t matter who they are or what position in society or the Church they hold, they are human 1st and as such are subject to: ‘the weakness of our mortal nature’
But as the collect goes on to say we are NOT alone, God is there to help us.
But we have to realise our dependence upon Him as the collect say’s “we can do no good thing without You."
Note three key words and phrases: weakness, mortal and no good thing:
weakness, because of our humanity we do not possess the strength to do what is right.
We stray, we sin however hard we try to live up to our moral and ethical principles.
Without such a moral and ethical foundation our society is easily swayed by public opinion, things that were unacceptable yesterday become acceptable today.
Incidents that take the media by storm lead to laws that have no root or foundation.
Rather the foundations of our laws should be based on sound tried and tested Christian ethics and above all common sense.
mortal, for we are moving towards the universal terminus of physical death – our mortality is the only certain fact of life.
Even if we were not weak, even if we were somehow strong in ourselves, the sun would still set over our achievements and we will soon be forgotten.
'no good thing', a phrase that emphases that any decent action we try to do without the aid of God's grace is doomed to failure.
"No good thing" declares the null and void of any unaided action we try to do – our human potential is not always sufficient to accomplish good we want to achieve.
The Collect is a bitter pill. It lays out our hope of self- improvement but we need more… we need God’s help.
No wonder the "modern mind" is uneasy with what this prayer has to say but for the Christian it proclaims an eternal truth.
It might offer to some absolutely nothing, but to us it declares the wretchedness of our mortal nature to which Christ has won for us a tremendous victory and has come to our aid.
And as such the prayer offers us everything.
What does it actually ask? "Grant us the help of Your grace."
We do not need to be so negative about our human nature as the good news is that Christ will come to our aid when we cry out for His help.
And in doing so we realise our utter dependence.
The prayer holds out the promise that with the help, the love and grace of Christ, we may begin to do the right things (the "keeping of Your commandments").
Moreover, doing right holds out the greater promise of pleasing God.
And so we pray – that we may please You both in will and deed.
To please God our Father in this way both inwardly by our wills and outwardly in our actions - is little short of making ourselves holy; better, more Christ like in our actions.
No wonder the scientist Pascal never tired of saying that the Christian was both the world's most wretched person, absolutely needy; and the world's grandee, absolutely guaranteed in love and status.
Once we were estranged, sojourner distant from God and this is still realised today by "the weakness of our mortal nature".
But Christ came and by His death redeemed us and brought us back to God and realising our dependence upon God: “we can do no good thing without You."
We can by the victory Jesus won for us become children of God and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven: that we may please You both in will and deed.
John Newton, the famous hymn writer in effect lived out this prayer, he wrote a number of famous hymns: Amazing Grace and How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds.
Even though he was brought up in the church as a child, he became a calloused man full of anger, pain, and uncertainty and because of that, he experienced a troubled life.
At one time, he was a commander of a slave ship, he would anchor his ship off the coast of Africa and pack it with slaves.