Thanks for joining me, this week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time.
To: Almighty and merciful God,
Do: graciously keep from us all adversity,
Accrue: so that, unhindered in mind and body alike, we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours.
Through: Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Adversity. It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? In scripture we get a sense that adversity comes with suffering, or our adversary, the devil, is working against us. We slog ahead, so much comes up against us that it seems like we get nowhere and we can’t get a break. Used here, adversity is defined as opposition or resistance, which doesn’t sound quite as horrible. Either way, it’s easy to say that adversity is not often our friend.
I’ve been intrigued by the placement of the words of the Do statement of this week’s prayer. “Keep from us all adversity.” Asking God to keep adversity from us gives the sense of God as our shield. Indeed, that’s what we are asking, that God would keep away from us all that would oppose us. Actually, we find the definition of God keeping all opposition from us in the Accrue of this prayer: unhindered in mind and body alike. To be unhindered is to be free mentally and physically.
When is the last time you felt that free? It’s a feeling that says that everything is right in the world, that the world, and your life is in order. My guess is that rare are the readers who experience this the majority of the time and as I meditated on that feeling, I found myself to be longing for it, too. This longing kicked me back to square one, praying, “Keep from me all adversity, all that is opposing me.”
Yes, but what about… is the next thing that came into my mind. What about the family member with cancer, what about the flat tire on the car, what about the hundred things that have just come up in your mind, aren’t those adversities? They do seem like they could be adversities, but we have to remember that God has a plan. What may seem like a hinderance to us could mean an opportunity for God. We’re asking to keep adversity from us, but he also wants to make us holy.
In our becoming holy, what if God is asking us to surrender all of our adversities to him? How freeing is to knowing that God wants me free from opposition because he has a plan. It is in being free from all opposition that we get to the real core of the prayer. That is to pursue the things that are God’s.
This morning as I prayed Morning Prayer, I was struck by the scripture reading from Ephesians 1:17-19. Paul is praying for us to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation to grow in knowledge of him, that our hearts be enlightened to know what is the hope that belongs to his call, that we know the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and we that we know the greatness of his power for us who believe, it’s the power he worked when Christ was raised from the dead!
Now we have to decide: can we trust God to keep adversity from us and to give to him what opposes us? The other option is to be free to accept his spirit, having my heart enlightened, and knowing his riches and the greatness of his power. Looking at it that way, it’s not a very hard decision, is it? I choose freedom of heart to pursue the things of God.
Thanks for praying with me.