by the Rev. Charlie Dupree
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.
Did you know that this prayer – a prayer that we pray at the beginning of each service of Holy Eucharist – is called the Collect (another word for “prayer,” pronounced ‘KAH-lect’) for Purity? It was once a prayer that was prayed individually by priests before they entered worship. Over the years, it found its ways into the primary worship service, itself. In the BCP on page 355, you’ll see that the rubric (instruction) states that “the Celebrant may say.” But in this congregation, as in others I have served, the whole congregation says it together. I like this. Praying it together shows that all of us are one body seeking to be fully in God’s presence.
We are our most full and complete selves as we come into the worship experience, or, at least, that’s the goal. But the truth is that we bring a lot of stuff with us – stuff from the past, stuff from the week. The prayer indicates that there is nothing that can be hidden from God. This might be a bit scary . . . all of our blemishes and “desires” fully visible to God? Yikes! In another sense, though, it can be freeing. Nowhere does it say that God expects us to be perfect, even though the prayer calls us to endeavor to love God perfectly. Which is why we ask God – Sunday after Sunday – to cleanse our thoughts and, even, the “thoughts of our hearts” – perhaps those things that only God knows.
The prayer is intentionally at the beginning. We put ourselves “out there,” inviting God to do God’s work of healing and restoration through worship, prayer, song, praise, and peace. And, maybe by the time we reach the Altar for communion, we’re just a little bit more ourselves . . . restored, forgiven, healed, and renewed.
See you in church,