Invitation (May 3, 2012)

…Opening To…

Worship is a way of seeing the world in the light of God. (Abraham Joshua Heschel)

…Listening In…

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

…Filling Up…

The prayer above in the “Listening In” section is called the “Collect for Purity,” and at a typical Episcopal worship service this is the first prayer of the day, following an opening greeting that varies with the season. A “collect” (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable) does just what you think it does. It collects (emphasis on the second syllable) the themes of the day into one prayer that acts as something of a thesis statement for that particular day’s worship. There is a “Collect of the Day” that changes every week, which comes a minute or two later in the service.

But this “Collect for Purity” doesn’t change. It is the same week in and week out. The Collect for Purity, then, is less about collecting the themes of the day and more about collecting ourselves to be ready to worship. With this collect, we open ourselves up to God’s action in our lives. We invite God into the space that God already inhabits, thus giving ourselves a better chance at noticing God’s presence.

The first line of the collect says three true things about God. By addressing God as the one to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid, we ready ourselves to open our hearts. The beginning of this prayer helps us take our masks off, helps us take our guard down so that we can let God in.

The second part of the prayer asks God to send the Holy Spirit to inspire our worship so that we can love more perfectly, thereby “magnifying” God’s holy name. When you magnify, you makes something bigger and thus clearer. That’s what our worship does. When God opens our hearts, we can discover just how big and how close God is to us.

That’s the Collect for Purity, our second moment of worship. So with that, let’s pray it again.

…Praying For…

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, ready to order my life around your movement in it and hopeful that you will continue to show me the way.

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