By Brooke Holt
“Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” The Collect, Proper 6, Book of Common Prayer
In his book Built to Last, Jim Collins coined a popular phrase in the business world -- “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”. Maybe you have heard of it or utilized Collins' concept in your own business. If you aren’t familiar with BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), he describes it as a seemingly unreasonable goal set by an organization or individual- big and seemingly out of reach but worth pursuing. This goal is meant to engage and challenge people, to unify them and to have them look beyond the current situation. As you can imagine, these types of goals radically change organizations and individuals.
When I read the Collect for today, I couldn’t help but think it sounds like a BHAG. We pray that the church would be kept in steadfast faith and love. That means all eyes on Jesus – each person within the church looking to him for the way ahead as well as for the grace to love him and to love one another.
That kind of faith and love propels church members to love people so much that they would lovingly speak God’s truth in all circumstances. God wants his people to boldly proclaim his truth that is anchored in his grace. What could that mean? Likely, the author of this prayer would call you and me to remember our own frailty, all our sinful tendencies, the times we have fallen away from the Lord or out of his will. It means living in a place of humility in which all of God’s people are unified by living into the truth that not one of us deserves grace but each of us is a recipient of it through the cross. Only from that place of humility can you speak God’s truth with boldness and gentleness; otherwise, it comes across as (and just might be) judgement. We have only one judge - the Lord Jesus Christ.
The call to steadfast faith and love undergirded by grace, a grace so compelling and powerful that the church proclaims truth boldly, seems quite overwhelming. Yet in this powerful Collect we find more. Building upon the faith, love, grace, and truth, we pray for the call to minister God’s justice with compassion. The Collect’s prayer would have us (the church) see people and circumstances as God sees them. Our hearts are to break for the poor and the oppressed. It may be working to rescue those caught in the grips of sex-trafficking or sending money to help feed those who are starving across the world. It may be adopting a foster child who may have never experienced the joy and security of a home like yours or building homes for the homeless. Whatever it is, it means faith, love, and grace moving each of us into action to help God’s people.
This prayer speaks about a church united in God’s word and mission. What a massive prayer especially since it seems we have churches that proclaim truth; others that seem to love well; and still others that do the work of social justice. What would it look like for this prayer to unite God’s church and to expand God’s mission?
It seems like a BHAG the church could only achieve by the Holy Spirit working to unite and direct it. Let’s pray and dream and be part of making this BHAG a reality in the church today!
What does your church do well – proclaim truth, love people, or social justice? How can you be part of bringing all these together? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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