Monday Matters (August 21, 2023)


The Collect read in church on August 20

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

These days, Monday Matters offers reflections on the prayers we say in church on Sunday, the collect of the day. We do this based on the conviction that praying shapes our believing, that what we pray forms us. We do this hoping that the prayers we say on Sunday will carry us through the week.


My preparation for yesterday’s sermon got me thinking about those WWJD bracelets. What would Jesus do? Excellent question. Perhaps it comes with being an Anglican, but I regard the question with ambivalence. That ambivalence was captured by Nadia Bolz Weber in a recent sermon. She said: “When I’m struggling in life, I don’t know if ‘What would Jesus do?” is the most helpful question. What would Jesus do? I don’t know. Something super cool like raise the dead or cast out demons or turn water into wine…none of which feel like a fair test of faith for someone who can’t even remember to send thank you notes.”

The collect heard yesterday in church (see above) offers insight into what Jesus would do. The collect talks about the ministry of Jesus in this twofold way. He came as sacrifice. He came as example. As sacrifice, what he did was something we could not do for ourselves. As example, what he did is apparently something we might also be able to do. Which gives us a fair amount to think about this Monday morning as we pose the question: WWJD?

First, Jesus comes to be for us a sacrifice. Over the centuries, the notion of sacrifice and atonement has been variously interpreted by people a lot smarter than I am. What I know is that it matters a great deal how we think about ourselves and our God as we reflect on the meaning of sacrifice. I like how Marcus Borg stated it: Sacrifice for sin means that God has already taken care of whatever it is that we think separates us from God.

It’s a reminder that we need help from beyond our own selves. In whatever way sacrifice is understood, the point of the collect is that what God did in Christ is something which we are to receive thankfully. We are beneficiaries, enjoying the fruits of his redeeming work. It’s a reminder that all is grace. We need not, in fact we cannot earn those fruits. That attitude of gratitude is the foundation of our spiritual life, which is why Meister Eckhart said that the only word we need to say in prayer is thanks. What would Jesus do? He would do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, which should keep us humble, hopeful and grateful.

Second, Jesus provides for us an example. There are ways that we can imitate Christ, ways we can follow in his footsteps, ways we can be more like him. When Jesus washed disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, he told them to do the same thing to each other, to take on the role of a servant. Repeatedly, Jesus invited his disciples to take up the cross and follow him. He told his followers to love one another as he has loved them. Those are our marching orders.

And that is where those little bracelets might come in handy, as they invite us to be like Christ. St. Paul told the Christians gathered in the church in Philippi to have the mind of Christ. He told the Christians in Rome to welcome one another as Christ had welcomed them.

So with the help of yesterday’s collect, we gratefully commit to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life. What does it look like for you to follow Jesus’ example this week?

-Jay Sidebotham

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