Christ our sacrifice and example

Let us pray (in silence) [that we may receive and live Christ's life]


Merciful God,
you gave your only Son
to be both a sacrifice for sin
and an example of godly life;
help us gladly to receive
all that he has done for us
and follow in his footsteps;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour

who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

NZPB 614

The 1549 Book of Common Prayer had a new collect for Easter 2:

ALMIGHTIE God, whiche haste geven thy holy* sonne to bee unto us, bothe a sacrifice for synne, and also an example of Godly life; Geve us the grace that we maie alwaies moste thankfully receive that his inestimable benefite, and also dayely indevour ourselfes to folow the blessed steppes of his moste holy lyfe.

[*"holy" became "only" in Elizabethan times]

The Church of England no longer appears to use this collect. The BCP (USA) uses it for Proper 15 [Sunday closest to August 17 - what NZ & most would call the Twentieth Ordinary Sunday]:

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a
sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us
grace to receive thankfully the fruits of this redeeming work,
and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

The action of Christ is presented as having two dimensions: sacrifice and example.

One could reflect on the understanding of "sacrifice" à la Anselm - satisfying God's justice. Or one could do a biblical reflection, where sacrifice means being taken into the possession of God. Christ does for us what we could not do for ourselves, because Christ is both fully divine and fully human. Through his life, death, rising, and ascension Christ is taken into the possession of God. And we, incorporated into Christ (through baptism and its ongoing celebration in eucharist - this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving) are also taken into God's possession.

Christ's service, through this service, is lived out in our service as we follow Christ's example and "follow in his footsteps".

Had I been the reviser and sought a new address alternative to "Almighty God" that resonated with the rest of the collect, I might not have gone with "Merciful God" as the NZ revisers did. I might have addressed "Redeeming God".
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