The gift of love
Let us pray (in silence) [that we may grow into the fullness of love and life Christ offers]
you have taught us
that anything we do without love is worth nothing,
for whoever lives without love
is counted dead before you;
send your Holy Spirit,
and pour into our hearts
that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues;
grant this for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
NZPB p. 624c
This collect was written by Cranmer for Quinquagesima Sunday (the Sunday before Lent) clearly based on the Epistle for the day, 1 Corinthians 13. The American BCP has retained its approximate location as Epiphany 7, the CofE ASB moved it to Pentecost 7, and now, in Common Worship, to Trinity 2:
Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ's sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
People too quickly identify Christian teaching using language of "eternal life" with "life like this but going on and on and on after we die." Christianity as life-after-death insurance. Here the measure of being "alive" and being "dead" are quite different. The measure is love. Living in love means being alive. Living apart from love is counted as being dead. Maybe for some time we need to stop using "eternal life" and use instead language like "abundant life", "fullness of life". The good news of Jesus is not a rejection of this life and offering instead insurance about the "next life". The good news of Jesus is about abundant life now, love now, fullness of life now, God with us now. Certainly a love and life that not even death can destroy - in fact that transforms and is fulfilled in death.
Eternal life, abundant life, fullness of life is this: to love God, self, others.
Once again, I wonder, if the collect might be improved by changing the address to something like "God of life".