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The History Theology And Practice Of Christian Worship - Part 5

It was our intention to learn about the Salutation and Collect last week, but we got side-tracked into a fruitful discussion about Eucharistic Sacrifice instead. We will visit that subject again when we get to the Liturgy of the Sacrament. 

Speaking of which let us take a moment to remember that there are two major divisions in Christian worship. The earlier part of the Service is known as the Liturgy of the Word (aka: synaxis, collectia). The Liturgy of the Word begins with the Introit, and concludes with the Votum (blessing after the sermon: The Peace of God ... ).

The second part is The Liturgy of the Sacrament (aka: the Anaphora) begins with the Offertory, and goes through the Benediction. FWIW I think it makes better liturgical sense to end the Service with the Benediction, and omit the closing hymn. This way the blessing of God upon the people is the last word spoken. It's something we can discuss. Neither TLH, nor LSB call for a hymn at the end.

(The Confession and Absolution have always been considered as a Preparatory Service and were often done via private confession before Mass began. In our worship the Preparatory Service becomes a seamless part of liturgy; and that's okay, but it is still something we should be aware of.)

Also speaking of divisions of the Service remember that there are two elements in the Service called the Ordinaries and the Propers. The Propers are the parts that change each week such as the Introit, Collect and Lessons (Scripture readings). The Ordinaries remain the same each week, elements such as the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus etc.

The Collect, which will be our main discussion today, is one of the Propers. Classically speaking the Collect has 5 parts (there are exceptions):

the invocation, in which we call on God by one of several names: O God, O Lord, Almighty and Everlasting God etc.;

the basis for the petition, in which the church names a work, act or quality of God. the Collect for Purity is a good example. Almighty God unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid;

the petition, in which we speak aloud the things we desire God to give us. Using the Christmas Collect: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit.

the purpose, in which we state the reason for our prayer. It usually begins with the word "that" or "so that." In this particular Collect we pray "that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name;"

the ending, through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Or if the Collect is addressed to the Son, "who lives and reigns with the Father and the holy Spirit, one God, world without end." This liturgical ending to our prayers is ancient! Besides being catechetical in nature, so that we never forget who the true God is, it protects and defends the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Christian basis for prayer. Prayer is always offered in the name of Jesus. The formula isn't what constitutes our prayers as being offered in this holy name, it is our baptism, and participation in the Eucharist that does this. But the church has, for some 1800 years, seen fit to keep this formula, and so we do. We are, after all, recipients, not authors. 

The Collect is a prayer that the pastor prays in the person of the people. All of our voices are united into one. The Collect ideally sets, or reflects the tone or theme of the day. It matches in theme and wording with the Introit and Lessons, so that all the Propers present a unified theme. It doesn't always work out this way, but that is the ideal.

Preceding the Collect (also the Preface and Benediction) is The Salutation. "The Lord be with you" is a greeting that we learn from Scripture, and is of itself a beautiful wish, prayer or sentiment. Liturgically it became a significant responsive introduction to new and different parts of the Service, and remains so today in Western Liturgy.

It is not addressed to God, but to people. From the pastor to the baptized, and from the baptized back to the pastor. When the pastor says: The Lord be with you, he is noting aloud what is occurring in this assembly of the baptized. "Lord," here likely refers to Jesus, who literally comes to his people in holy worship, in both the Word and Sacrament. And when the people respond: "And also with you," or "And with your spirit," they return the blessing indicating that pastor and people are One in their worship.

One common opinion is that in this exchange the people are commissioning (re-commissioning) the pastor to speak for all. It's possible. It could also indicate that by this happy and holy exchange that the bonds of love and unity, between pastor and people, are tied anew. In that respect it is much like saying to your loved ones aloud, "I love you," though it is a known and established fact.

In LSB the response is: And also with you. Not the older: And with your spirit. Either serves, but we will go with the book.

In any event it is a glorious exchange in which we wish and hope and pray nothing but good and blessing to one another. 

Come at 9:00 AM next week to hear the next part of our study.


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