The Third Sunday of Advent

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

I find this collect to be one of the most memorable of the year. It’s that archaic beginning… “stir up your power, O Lord.” It reminds me of caldrons of thick stew being slowly heated–at the moment when the surface of the water begins to shimmer; sometimes simply stirring the pot will cause the bubbles that have been building to break the surface, resulting very quickly in a vigorous boil. This collect reminds me, too, of the bowls of lavender blossoms the Victorians would leave in their rooms. They were meant as natural air fresheners, but they need the agitation and warmth of a hand running through the buds to release their scent.

When God stirs up his power, something is released, something powerful. It is meant to break through the places congested by sin. It is meant to bring fragrance to stale parts of our lives. The results are immediate, life-altering and marked by mercy and grace. What would happen to us if we were to take this prayer seriously and pray for the radical mercy and grace of the Lord to bubble up and spill out into our lives?

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