ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Collects give us a sense of themes for each week. Looking into them can help us to remember the direction that our souls must be traveling and what it is we need to be fleeing.
This week we are reminded that without God we are naught. That is to say that the grace which we have found in Christ stems from Christ alone, for God’s glory alone. This grace is a common theme in the Prayerbook, and it is the mainstay of Christianity.
We are often tempted to think that we can pick ourselves up by our bootstraps. However, our faith in Christ is what lifts us out of the mire, and it is from this vantage point that we need to view our life and the entire world.
We have no power, save in the power of Jesus Christ. This dependency plays into the themes of Lent that we are to learn to submit ourselves to both the authority and control of Christ.
The second thought of the collect reminds us of the Sermon on the Mount that our inward holiness is as important as the outward.
Christ was consistently critical of the Pharisees who could not seem to grasp that the actions of the heart have the potential to be as destructive as physical actions. St. Paul reminds us that the Christian is not circumcised like the Hebrew people, but rather he or she is circumcised in their heart. Our actions are to be made holy to God through Christ.
We are not called to be only outwardly pious, though certainly, we ought to not be ogling and objectifying women, getting into fist fights, or trying to profit through immoral means, avoiding these actions are as important as the inward transformation. Being jealous of our neighbor’s new car, our brothers better job, or wanting to sleep with someone we have a crush on, even if we don’t intend to act on it, is sinful.
The temptation to fall into outward or inward sinfulness is constant, and it would be easy to grow despondent in our walk. However, these temptations give us a chance to learn a deeper dependency upon Christ.
When we fail, we repent, when we succeed it is through the grace of Christ, so do not grow weary, but learn the greater dependency, for it is a kind and gracious thing.