Collect Meditation for the Collect for Ash Wednesday/Lenten Season Part I

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The plan is to have a meditation on this Collect Prayer throughout the Season of Lent. This Collect Prayer is one of two Collect Prayers in the Classical Book of Common Prayer tradition that is prayed throughout the season with the Collect Prayers for the Week. For this meditation, we will briefly address the need for the Christian Year or Calendar. From many Protestant quarters, I have heard and read many objections to the need of a Calendar centered in Christ. I recall reading one comment years ago of a Christian stating that Christians needed to ditch celebrating Christmas and give that day back to the pagans. I have read other statements that Christians just need to celebrate and worship 52 times a year, Sundays. The rationale of the Church Year is not to create another system to which we must conform. No, it is as the Church to put all things under Christ in our lives. It begins with the Church, the household of Faith. The wisdom of the Church going back a very long time is that knowing human nature, especially in the temptation to idolize secular based days such as Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, and many others; we need times beyond Sunday to remind us of our need for Christ. Sinful nations scream to abolish the Christian Church. Often, this war is over the Calendar.  In such, the temptation is to put more credence at the altar of the State in celebrating her holy days as more important than the Feasts of Historic Christianity. When we retreat to Sundays as being sufficient and all we need, we run the risk of losing ground and battles to the gods of our age that relish having the chance to dominate the Calendar 86 percent of the time, the percentage of time if you take out Sundays in the year. We used to have a saying in a restaurant I cooked for when I was a bi-vocational Minister. When a supply of an ingredient was exhausted and no longer available, we “eighty-sixed” it. The secular establishment would love nothing more than for more and more Christians to “86” the Christian Calendar in favor of submitting to the Calendar dictated by the State, filled with its sacred days meant to worship self and nation. Sure, there are and have been gross abuses of the Church Year System when people focus upon self. The answer is not to ditch the historic Christian Year to give the rest of our days to the State to give us days off work to celebrate self and nation. To work properly, the Christian Year must overemphasize that our time is under submission to Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-16, “[15] Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (ESV)