Monday of Epiphany III – Prayer of the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

I am not a fan of boxing, but if you cruise through a sporting goods store and encounter that part of the story where you can buy a punching bag, you will find a product line called “Everlast.” The name is suggestive. The product does not wear out. Of course, the name is also not true. Landfills surely contain plenty of worn-out boxing shoes, gloves, and punching bags, made by this company.

We pray today to the everlasting God. The geologists tell us that even the stolid mountains which loom over my city will one day, given enough time, erode. Every year, the mountains shed truckloads of sand and grit in the streams which flow into the sea. They will eventually wear out too. God, on the other hand, never wears out. Unchanged by time or anything else, neither our sins nor our successes have any effect upon Him. Nothing really does. He does not belong to this cosmos that it can change him. He is everlasting. Medieval theologians spoke of His immutability.

But look at the rest of this prayer and rejoice. God is not some uncaring and stolid monolith of stone who does not change. He is our God, loving, wise, and merciful. That is what does not change. We count on that unchanging character in this prayer. He looks with mercy upon our infirmities. He never gets tired of that, even when we sin over and over. He is everlasting. He stretches for his hand of majesty to heal and defend us. I do not know exactly what a “hand of majesty” is, but God apparently has one and uses it for our good. That does not change either.

While we are reading this prayer closely, I would like to propose one little punctuation change: remove the semicolon right after “defend us” in this prayer. The semicolon is appropriate, it means that this prayer is spoken through Jesus who lives and reigns with the Father and Son. But if you take out the semicolon it reminds us that the almighty and everlasting God heals and defends us through Jesus. Look to the one who called disciples, healed the sick, raised the dead, and cleansed the lepers. Know that he does not change.

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