The Divine Service – The Collect of Thanksgiving

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In our last article, we considered the Nunc Dimittis, a song from Scripture (Luke 2:29-32) sung by Simeon at Jesus’ presentation. We noted how appropriate it was to sing after receiving the Lord’s Supper because we also have “seen” our Lord in and with the bread and wine, allowing us to depart in the peace of forgiveness.

Today we are considering the Collect of Thanksgiving, a prayer audibly prayed by the pastor on behalf of the congregation. This prayer (as you will see) is specifically prayed after Holy Communion as a thanksgiving for the gifts there given.

The prayer begins with a responsive verse from Psalm 118 setting the tone:

P: O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.

C: And His mercy endures forever.

This verse is often prayed by families as a thanksgiving prayer, either before or after a common meal. How appropriate that we would also use it at this special meal by which God has physically extended His mercy to the communicants by giving them the sacrifice for their sins, Jesus’ crucified and risen body and blood.

The pastor then continues:

We give thanks to You, almighty God, that You have refreshed us through these salutary [healthy] gifts, and we implore You that of Your mercy You would strengthen us through them in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

For some, a wafer of bread and a sip of wine may not seem that refreshing. And we would agree, if we were talking purely of physical refreshment. But this meal is the distribution of the forgiveness of sins. It refreshes us spiritually, having come with burdened consciences, weakened resolve to fight the good fight of faith, and apathetic tendencies toward serving our neighbors. We might begin each week with the greatest of intentions to “do our best,” but quickly find that our best just isn’t good enough. We fall back into the same temptations, or different ones, and lose hope and confidence.

And this is because we have started off with the wrong strength, our own. It is the Gospel, the good news of forgiveness won for us on the cross that strengthens, motivates, and enables us to continue to press ahead. With Jesus’ triumph over our spiritual enemies, we are assured that no matter how we fail or how often we fail, He has already attained the victory.

His victory and subsequent forgiveness lead us to trust in them all the more and strive to live a life pleasing to God, which includes serving our neighbors out of love for them, for they too are blood-bought sinners, redeemed by Jesus’ perfect life and death.

Rev. Gullixson is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church at 162 Sneden Street. The Divine Service begins at 9:30 AM every Sunday. To speak with Pastor Gullixson, please call (760) 873-6589.