Sorely Hindered


St. John the Forerunner

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen. Collect for the third Sunday of Advent

The real version of me sins a lot more than my social media representative. I can see the man I ought to be. I read about him morning by morning in the scriptures. I encounter him in the bread and wine. In my best moments, he works through me to parent my children with patience and to serve my spouse sacrificially. But often I am absorbed in self-interest, mindless of others. Sorely hindered.

At this point the church is knee deep in Advent. Two weeks complete and one more after this one. We have been thinking and reflecting for some time now. It is time for honesty. There is a gap between the men and women that we could be and the people that we are. Sin fights against us.
Everyone in the Anglican tradition read about the ministry of John the Baptist this Sunday. John’s distinctive contribution to early Christianity was to speak about who he was not. He said repeatedly: I am not the messiah. I am not the prophet. I am not Elijah. In other words, I am sorely hindered. But there is one coming.

The collect for this week implores God to stir up his power and come among us because it is only by his power that can live as free people. That is why in the midst of our preparation to celebrate the coming of the Christ child we cast our vision further afield. We look to his second visitation when our hindrances will know an end.

Published by Dr. Esau McCaulley

Esau McCaulley is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. His research and writing focuses on Pauline theology and the intersection of race, Christian identity, and the pursuit of social justice. He is also a priest in the Anglican Church in North America where he serves as Provincial Director for Leadership Development, which involves oversight of the recruitment and formation of clergy and lay leaders. He is one of the creators of Call and Response ministries, an organization committed to hosting conferences and creating resources for Black and Multi-Ethnic churches.

2 thoughts on “Sorely Hindered

  1. “Everyone in the Anglican tradition read about the ministry of John the Baptist this Sunday.”

    When I first became a Christian, I dropped in on a Catholic Mass in the middle of the day. The text was the same as the text read in the Presbyterian church I had visited in the morning. That evening I excitedly told a pastor friend that God was trying to tell me something through some text about Mary saying that her “soul glorifies the Lord.” It couldn’t be a coincidence, could it, that that these different churches had read the same text? Then my friend told me about the common lectionary, and emphasized that its existence shouldn’t be a disappointment to me. Very likely God did have a message for me in the text. 15-year old me more than half wished I hadn’t learned about the lectionary.

    Keep the posts coming, Father!


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