Monday Matters (October 16, 2023)


The Collect read in church on October 15

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ 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.

Grace preceding and following us

There’s a part of the eucharistic prayer said each Sunday that has a technical/liturgical term. It’s called anamnesis. When you break down that term, it literally means not forgetting. Not amnesia. It’s the part of the prayer when we recall the good things that God has done for us in the past, a history of creation and redemption and hope for a new heaven and a new earth. History tells us it is easy to forget, so we are reminded As our world seems to be coming unhinged, the call to anamnesis matters now more than ever. We might think of it as the grace that precedes.

In that eucharistic prayer, we give thanks for things God has done for all of us together. There is also a way to look in the spiritual rear-view mirror and see where God has been active in our personal lives, grace preceding us on the individual level. Take some time today to think about where the Holy One has been active in your life. What have been the God-sightings?

And in the collect that we heard yesterday in church (see above), there is also grace that follows us. A favorite couple of verses come to mind, found in the second chapter of the letter to the Ephesians. For me, these verse represent the gospel in a nutshell. The author sums up the gospel this way:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we may walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10).

These verses describe the grace that has preceded us. It also points to the grace that follows. It speaks of the good works which God has prepared for us to walk in. Those good works, that way of life, is laid out for us. We might think of it as grace following us, grace accompanying us as we make our way forward in life.

When I read this passage with mention of the good works prepared for us to walk in, I think of my visits to big urban hospitals. I might ask at the information desk how to get to the children’s wing, for example. I am then told to follow the green line on the floor which will help me get there. I’m glad for that graceful bit of navigation. A gift, a grace that shows how I’m meant to move forward in life. Grace following me along the way. Grace actually paving the way. Have you ever been aware of that holy way-making in your life?

The goal of all of this is that we will be given to good works. God’s grace has gone before us, and will lead us into the future. That prompts a grateful heart for what has passed, and a hopeful spirit for what lies ahead. It allows us to keep eyes open in the present moment to see what good thing God has in store for us.

What will those good works be in your life this Monday morning? As you attend to those opportunities, remember grace that has preceded you (most especially the love of God from which you can never be separated). Embrace the grace that is promised to follow you all the days of your life. As the familiar hymn reminds us, ’twas grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.

-Jay Sidebotham

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