This prayer comes from the Gelasian Sacramentary, a book of the liturgy, that dates back to the 8th century and it has always been used for the Advent season. This week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 2nd Sunday of Advent.
Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
The first thing I pondered in this prayer was, “what are earthly undertakings?” These undertakings are not only the things we are trying to accomplish, they are also the actions of others and the results of events, such as a natural disaster, like a snowstorm (It’s wintertime in Iowa, we’re trained to think like that.)
If we look through a wide lens, the earthly undertakings in our setting out “in haste to meet your Son” could also be distractions. Some earthly undertakings sure have a way of capturing our attention, don’t they? What earthly undertaking have derailed your thoughts lately? Shopping? Israel? An illness of a loved one?
Our friend, Martha, comes to mind. While Jesus sat in her house, she prepared Him a meal. However, it wasn’t the preparation that got to her, it was the anxiety, anger, and perhaps a smattering of jealousy. Her earthy undertaking of preparing a meal, while having the holiest of intentions, hindered her time spent with Jesus.
Its interesting that the prayer then says “but,” which means on the contrary. Instead of the earthly undertaking stopping us from meeting Christ, our learning of heavenly wisdom will gain us admittance to his company.
People like to be wise, some people like to think they’re wise, but there is a difference between heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom. Earthly wisdom, and by the same token, earthly undertakings, will not gain us admittance to the presence of God. On the other hand, our learning of heavenly wisdom brings us more than just admittance.
In the Latin form of the prayer, we find the word consortes, which in the English prayer is translated as “admittance to his company.” Consortes means partners and it implies a more intimate and personal relationship.
Consortes is the kind of relationship Martha wanted, but her sister, Mary, enjoyed. Mary found heavenly wisdom sitting at Jesus’ feet. It was there that she found an intimate relationship with her Lord.
We must make the same decision that Mary and Martha did. In our relationship with Jesus, will we let earthly undertakings cause us to slow or stumble or will we drink of His heavenly wisdom and enjoy is company?
Thanks for praying with me,