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by Mike Kinman

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.

Often the Collect of the Day goes by so quickly at the beginning of the service that we blink and we miss it. But this one, the Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent, always jolts me.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us.

We are literally asking God to mess with us. To mess with our lives. To mess with our world.

And not only that … we keep going…

…and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us.

We are asking God to come mess with us. And not only that, we are asking God specifically to engage those places where we fall short, where we miss the mark and break relationship. That means we are inviting God to come into places of conflict. Into places where we are not at our strongest but where we are at our weakest. We are asking God not to come see us in our Sunday best but at our (Monday morning?) worst.

In a world that worships at the altar of the rugged individualist, we are straight up telling God that we can’t hack it by ourselves. That we need God to come in with all God’s power because we’ve had all we can take and we just can’t take it anymore.

This collect is a desperate plea … and it is beautiful in its honesty.

And the good news of Advent is – God hears and responds.

When we have the presence of mind truly to pray … truly to cry this collect … God hears and responds. God is waiting. Because God knows. God knows we can’t make it on our own. God knows our own hubris and God knows our own weakness. And God loves us without bounds in the midst of all of it.

And God is waiting, patiently, lovingly for us to ask for help.

Let this be our prayer not just this Advent but every week, every day, every hour.

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.

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