In Anglican usage, the ‘Collect’ is a prayer that collects together the themes of the liturgy and readings for the day into a single short prayer.
Good Friday is unique in having not one but three collects, each of which expresses a different aspect of the celebration of that day.
It is a celebration, even though Good Friday worship is moving, solemn and even sombre.
Jesus, the Son of God, suffered all the pains of human existence – betrayal, false accusations, desertion, loneliness, poverty, humiliation, extreme physical pain, and death. It is a celebration because Christians know, even as they contemplate these things, that Jesus has won a great and ultimately final victory over them, over sin, the devil, death.
We know this victory means that while our sufferings are real, horrible, grievous, we can have hope. Even though we may scared, tempted, confused, abandoned or in pain, we can say with Julian of Norwich ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’ So in this darkest moment, the central moment of all creation, the moment of Jesus’ passion and death, and in any dark moment, we can still rejoice and say “Thanks be to God!”
ALMIGHTY God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
Just look at us God – we who love you and are called by the name of your Son. Bless what is good. Heal what is not. Remember how much Jesus loved us – that He gave His life for us. For He who suffered as we do, and had reason to despair as we do, now lives and reigns with you in heaven forever.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified; Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all estates of men in thy holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and godly serve thee; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
God, no matter how things seem, you are in charge, and your world and your Church are holy. You make us holy, you give us our purpose and direction. Hear us as we pray for everyone in your family. Let all of them, whoever and wherever they are, serve you faithfully, courageously, and according to your will.
Why pray this prayer today? Because Good Friday reminds us of the cost of our salvation, and of the deepest nature of all Christian service – the self-sacrificial giving of our lives for others in imitation of Christ.
O MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics; and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
Not surprisingly, this is no longer permitted to be used in some parts of the Anglican communion. More’s the pity.
Muslims know Christians do not believe the same things as them. Why should it be offensive to say so? Jews know we do not believe the same things as them. Why should it be offensive to say so?
It would be far more offensive if, thinking that I knew the truth, the path to salvation, I kept it to myself, and did not pray and work so that others could come to know that truth and find life in it.
I am sure that, thinking they know the truth, members of other religions pray that I and other infidels (from their point of view) will have the scales taken from our eyes and come to be part of their family. I would be disappointed if they did not.
So believing that Jesus is the truth, and the way to finding peace and purpose in this life, and to finding everlasting life, I will pray constantly that other people of all sorts of races and beliefs are freed from their ignorance and hardness of heart, so that they may be fetched home and be made part of the one fold under one shepherd.
One of the extraordinary things about this prayer is that it was written when the armies of Islam had ravaged the Middle East and North Africa – the heartland of Christianity – were still occupying Spain, and were at the gates of Venice. Yet this is not a prayer for retribution, or even for protection, but simply that their hearts would be turned so we might all be one family.