In danger and necessity

Here is the collect for the Saturday after Ash Wednesday:

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

We continue the theme of dependence upon God today. Note that we ask God to help and defend us in both time of danger and necessity! Times of danger and necessity seem especially true when millions of people throughout the Southeast have been without power and/or water in sub-freezing temperatures these last days. 

Here's my reflection/ "translation" of the prayer:

God, you are all-powerful and not subject to the limits of time like we are. We ask you to see us as we are, imperfect beings who exist for only a little while, and offer mercy for us in this state instead of contempt, which is a human trait and not a divine one. And because you are merciful and strong (which we know from the stories told about you in scripture, how you hear the cries of those who are in need and how you enter into our world and save through your mighty power - your right hand, your mighty arm), and we need your help both when we are in trouble and in our daily needs, we trust that you do care for us and will come to us when we call, which allows us to ask in confidence. 

And so we are reminded again today that we cannot save ourselves and that we have a strong protector in our merciful God who comes to us in any situation, not just when we are in trouble. We also may be reminded of Jesus stretching forth his hand to heal the sick in the Gospel stories.

As I read this prayer, I am reminded that I am called to work with God in this merciful work. We do not expect God to thaw out the Southeast alone; we answer the call to mercy as well. And so today I made a donation to disaster relief in the Southeast and Texas through Episcopal Relief and Development. 

The great composer Orlando Gibbons set this prayer to music in the mid 1600's when it was the collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany. Here's a lovely recording of it: