This post, in addition to being a part of Rookie Anglican, is part of a series on the Collects of the Christian Year (ACNA), called “Collect Reflections.” If you’re just jumping in, make sure to check out the introductory post, “Announcing Collect Reflections.” All Collect Reflection posts can be found here.

The Second Sunday of Epiphany

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Who is God? The Father of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World

If you’ve been reading this series of Collect Reflections, you’ll recognize that this Collect follows the “standard” Collect format:

  1. We address God, focusing on an attribute and/or action of His.
  2. We make a request, based on God’s attribute and/or action.
  3. We state the basis upon which this request is being made: Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God.

So, what attribute and/or action of God does this Collect focus on? That God is the Father of Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world.

This sounds similar to the Collect for the First Sunday of Christmas, which reads:

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Why the repetition of this “light” theme? Because it’s particularly appropriate to the season of Epiphany, which commemorates the revelation/manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles – to the nations of the world.

During Epiphanytide, we celebrate Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 49:5-6 (emphasis added below):

And now the Lord says,
    who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
    and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
    and my God has become my strength—
he says,
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
    to raise up the tribes of Jacob
    and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
    that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.

God created the entire world and, through Jesus Christ, he is going to redeem the entire world back to himself. That is why his mission of redemption extends from and through the nation of Israel to include the Gentile nations.

How does this take place today? Through the Church.

What are We Praying For? For the Church to Bring Light to a Dark World

I know, I know. So often, the Church doesn’t seem like a vehicle for Christ’s light. Instead, it often appears to be a breeding ground for various forms of darkness.

And yet, as Christians, we cling to the hope that Christ uses his, albeit imperfect, Church to accomplish his mission throughout the world. Thankfully, the Church’s failures don’t nullify her true nature, as Christ’s body and bride.

Church = Christians + Word + Sacraments

By the way, in case you’re wondering where I’m getting this Church stuff from the Collect, it’s from the important phrase “Word and Sacraments.” It’s a good practice to start hearing this phrase as a synonym for the word “Church.” Here’s a helpful habit: when you hear “Church,” think “Word and Sacraments,” and vice versa. For, if you’d like to locate where the Church is present in the world, you should look for a group of people in which the Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are administered.

[UPDATE/EDIT: Special thanks to Denise, a careful reader who pointed out that “Church” and “Word and Sacrament” are not technically synonyms. The Church, per Article 19 below, is a congregation in which the Word is preached and the Sacraments are administered. Great point, Denise! I should have worded this more carefully.]

Don’t just take my word for it, either. Consider the first part of Ar