Week of the Sunday from June 5 to June 11
Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered in your providence, that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered in your providence
The word “providence” is used theologically to describe God’s ordering of our world. We don’t believe that God is simply the largest and most powerful being within our universe. Instead, Christians believe that God is the source and ground of being itself, and that he is not contained within this universe. He fills all, is in all, is above all. He isn’t a larger being, he is being itself.
In other words, you really can’t figure God out. John’s first letter states that “No one has ever seen God.”
And yet people saw Jesus. St. Paul said that he is the revelation of the invisible God. And he wasn’t a partial revelation. Paul wrote that the fullness of God dwells in him, in his letter to the Colossians. He gave us himself in the incarnation so that we could walk with him, so we could see God in front of us. We don’t understand him fully, but he gave us his presence in his days on earth, and he gives himself now in the Eucharist. He never leaves us, he never forsakes us.
We recently celebrated the Ascension of Christ. Before he ascended, he promised to send the Holy Spirit, which he fulfilled at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit fills the whole world, the whole universe, and is the being and presence of God made manifest to us in our lives. He manifests himself to us as Christians and will never leave us or forsake us.
This is a comforting, mysterious, powerful and yet un-masterable reality. The Holy Spirit does what he will.
All of this to say that God works in our world through his providence in mysterious ways that we see, but dimly. We trust the course of this world to him. He peacefully orders it. He is not frantic, rushing around, trying to catch up to us or respond to our every action. Instead, he orders our world peacefully.
And that is ground of our joy, our godly quietness, and our peace.
that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness and peace
Because we know that God’s ways are good – but past finding out – we can rest in him. In the words of Alcoholics Anonymous, we can “Let go, and let God.” We don’t literally “let” him do anything. He does what he wills. But we can let go by praying everyday for the grace to trust God with the world.
You and I can rest in that. We don’t stop acting, serving, loving. We are actively waiting for Christ’s return, seeking to manifest his love and presence wherever we go.
And yet our resting is not a resting of inactivity. We are sent forth to serve him. We are his Church.
But this collect reminds us that we can serve with joy, peace, and even quietness knowing that we don’t have to figure it all out. We aren’t saviors or kings. We are merely servants of the King, and we are those we are being saved. We have a great Gospel to take to the world. The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers us, and who works in the hearts of people all over the world. Rest in that.
“[Christ] is doing…great things that we cannot even imagine. Therefore be bold, be unafraid, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. We have a great gospel. There is nothing else like it in heaven or on earth…. It is in the still, small voice that you do not expect and cannot command. It is the trumpet call of the age to come. It is the ‘word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.’”
We have to admit that we often frantically serve him. We often forget that the world is ordered not by our minds or our striving, but by his peaceful providence. We tend to lose sleep worrying about, well, everything.
But we can rest in peace as we draw evermore into the heart of the mystery of the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Serve him in peace, and joy, and be still and know that he is God.