I am going to do something different for this post – a little comparison of the collect for the Third Sunday in Advent of the 1662 Prayer Book, the 2019 Prayer Book and an excerpt of B&C P’s version of the collect (as the rest of it is similar to the 2019) with some reflection before proceeding to the traditional Epistle and Gospel readings for the collect:
Book of Common Prayer 1662
O Lord, Jesu Christ who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer 2019
O Lord Jesus Christ, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient toward the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Excerpt of B&C P’s version
O Lord Jesus Christ, at your first coming you sent your messenger to prepare your way: …
What is interesting is the parts of the collect of the 1662 and the 2019 Prayer Books which I have emphasized. The 1662 collect is in the context of Jesus’ first coming with an implicit reference to John the Baptist as the singular messenger who prepares his way which the rest of the collect then flows smoothly into a prayer for all ministers to follow in John’s example. The 1662 lectionary’s gospel reading helps to clarify who is the messenger in the collect.
Whereas in the 2019, the starting emphasis seems to be on Jesus sending “messengers the prophets” (plural) to prepare the way for our salvation. At first glance, it does not name John the Baptist nor does it implies it. However, my understanding is that if one has Matthew 11:13-14 in mind where John the Baptist is the culmination of the Law and Prophets, it followds that like the Old Testament prophets and John, minsters are to call us to repentance and lead us to God who can only save us.
For B&C P’s version, we decided to maintain the first part of the collect according to the 1662 Prayer Book but in contemporary English. It will be published in a prayer book supplementary which we plan to release soon.
And now, for the readings…
The 1662’s Epistle reading for this collect is:
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (ESV)
The 1662’s Gospel reading paired with the collect is:
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepersare cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’Matthew 11:2-10 (ESV)
Have a blessed Sunday. Gaudete!