So, since Tuesday (Monday morning was taken up with getting my prostate biopsied, and I allowed myself to be wounded the rest of the day, and Sunday was, of course, the Day of Pentecost) I have been praying the collect for proper three daily.  And it’s bugged me.  If you are not familiar with it, the collect goes like this:

Grant, O God, that the course of this world may be peaceably governed by your providence; that your church may joyfully serve you in confidence and serenity; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

It’s a nice thought.  I guess there may even be times and places where this collect will be true.  I’m just not sure I know any of them.

Do you?  Do you know of any place in this world where the course of the world is peaceably governed by God’s providence?  I may know some places, in spite of this, where God’s church serves joyfully with confidence and serenity.  But these are hard times for people around the world.  These are hard times for Christians around the world.

So this collect ends up feeling wistful or naive.

MInd you, I still prayed it.  It is a nice thought.  It would be nice to live in the world of this collect.  I’m just afraid I don’t see it happening.  But I remind myself that a Christian is never without hope.  In our God, there is always hope.

Maybe that’s a big piece of what’s going on in Psalms 42 and 43, which were appointed for Vespers (I’m trying to get used to saying that instead of Evening Prayer, since that’s how it’s labeled in the St. Helena Breviary, which I’m using) tonight.  I think the opening words of Psalm 42 literally brought tears to my eyes:

As the deer longs for the water-brooks,*
  so longs my soul for you, O God.

My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God;*
  when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

And this is not someone who has been living in the world of the collect.  For they continue:

My tears have been my food day and night,*
  while all day long they say to me,
  “Where now is your God?”

And they continue:

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul,*
  and why are you so disquieted within me?

And yet they continue, twice in Psalm 42 and once in Psalm 43:

Put your trust in God,*
  for I will yet give thanks to the Holy One,
  who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

They remember, in their troubles, leading the congregation into the house of God.  They remember God’s history with God’s people — all the mighty works of God.  In spite of God’s seeming absence, in spite of their ongoing troubles, they retain hope and trust in their God.

I think that must be what’s sustaining them.  As a thirsty deer longs for water-brooks, so my soul longs for God.  My soul is aflame with thirst for the living God.  I am waiting for the time I come before God’s presence again.  I will yet give thanks to my God, the one who always sustains and nurtures me.

What is that but hope and trust.  May it sustain us all in all times of our lives.

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