Thursday, December 27, 2007

Collects

So I've been reading The Collects of Thomas Cranmer. It's a great little book: easy to read, thin, with short chapters.

The book is broken out into two-page mini-chapters. Each one starts with one of Thomas Cranmer's collects on the top of the left page, followed by a short historical blurb on the bottom of the left page. Then there is a one-page meditation on the right page.

So for background, a collect is a short, corporate prayer: the word "collect" implies this corporate character. Collects are generally short, centre on a petition, and always have a single theme.

The collects in this book are Thomas Cranmer's: many of "his" collects were revisions of earlier prayers, from the medieval Roman Catholic church and earlier. Cranmer revised and edited prayers from existing prayer books in light of the Reformation in addition to composing original prayers. The history section of each chapter explains where Cranmer got the collect: if it's not an original, it lays out where he got it, and what he changed in his revision.

The historical sections are well worth the weight of the book alone. While a character sketch of Thomas Cranmer is understandably of limited appeal and relevance, this book does a masterful job. But the real value of the book is in the meditations: this guy gets it. The Gospel of God---man is lost and hopeless, but the Son of God came here as a Man to die for us---is presented clearly and concisely. He understands that we have nothing to offer God, but He has given everything freely to us.

So if you get a chance, I highly recommend it.

2 comments:

Chuck said...

If nothing else Cranmer & co. get my nod for Article 34, a stroke of intuitive genius.

clumsy ox said...

Article 34 is actually what makes me willing to consider Anglicanism at all: it embodies precisely the lack of culture I see in the Acts and epistles.

In fact, my main problem with the 39 Articles is that I see nothing in Scripture to indicate an ordained Priest is necessary to administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper. To the contrary, I see Scripture as declaring all Christians are priests. But I think that's my only real beef with them.

I need to review them before I sign anything in blood here, but I can accept the vast majority of the 39 as a decent summation of Scripture.