It isn’t every year that we get to use today’s Collect on a Sunday. We usually see this Collect for the Fifth Sunday before Lent used as weekday Collect for the weekdays following Candlemas until the first of the Sunday’s before Lent. But this year, with Easter falling nearly as late as it possibly can we get to see all five of the possible Sunday’s before Lent. And that in itself presented a problem I’d not come across before, today’s Collect was used on the weekdays following Candlemas, last week, but is also the Collect for the weekdays next week.
In some ways, this Collect would be a good one for New Year, to support people in their new resolutions. So many of us resolve each year to, stop smoking; stop drinking (alcohol); go on a diet; etc etc. And so many of us fail in those resolutions each year.
Of the three mentioned, smoking, drinking, and diet, one is particularly pertinent to me. I used to smoke but stopped some twenty years ago now: not because of a new year resolution, but because my health demanded it. I used to drink quite a lot, but when the children came along I changed my lifestyle completely: now I drink very rarely, and probably enjoy it all the more on those odd occasions when I do have a few beers. Which leaves the last one, diet. One glance at me and you would see that I’m fat!
I could make lots of excuses. I’ve always been big: but that was when I used to run around the rugby field; train regularly with weights; play squash; so there was muscle there which does weigh heavier. My work was always physically demanding; but that meant I needed to eat more calories because I was burning them. Some of the tablets I need to take don’t help matters; which is true, but doesn’t explain the size I am. I could go on, it’s easy to think of excuses; and they all have a ring of truth about them, but they are only excuses.
The reality is, of course, to have got to the size I am, I ate more than my body needed for survival. And to stay at the size I am, I’m still doing it. I know that if I could lose a few (a lot of) pounds I would benefit from it in many ways, not least with my ongoing health problems, and my self-esteem. But knowing that, doesn’t make it any easier to not eat what I don’t need.
So, for me, this week’s Collect is one that I need to pray more often. I need help to turn away from those habits which harm my body (he writes while eating a chocolate biscuit).
God of our salvation,
help us to turn away from those habits which harm our bodies
and poison our minds
and to choose again your gift of life,
revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Additional Collect for The Fifth Sunday before Lent
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