John Coleridge Patteson

A Collect commemorating John Coleridge Patteson and his Companions; Bishop of Melanesia, Martyrs, 1871

Almighty God, you called your faithful servant John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labors and sufferings raised up a people for your own possession: Pour out your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect for the Commemoration of John Coleridge Patteson, in Holy Women, Holy Men)

Inspired by offline encouragement, I find myself wandering through the Collects (prayers used by many churches including the Episcopal Church at the start of worship). Come wander with me. Hear what the Spirit is saying, as you listen to what we ask (and what we say about ourselves and our God) in the Collect we pray as we commemorate John Coleridge Patteson and his companions.

“you called” (let’s consider this one element of the Collect)

Once again we acknowledge a characteristic of God: Almighty God (One so beyond us) is also One who calls (a very personal, very intimate activity).

If God speaks anywhere, it is into our personal lives that he speaks. Someone we love dies, say. Some unforeseen act of kindness or cruelty touches the heart or makes the blood run cold. We fail a friend, or a friend fails us, and we are appalled at the capacity we all of us have for estranging the very people in our lives we need the most.

“If God speaks anywhere,
it is into our personal lives”

Or maybe nothing extraordinary happens at all—just one day following another, helter-skelter, in the manner of days. We sleep and dream. We wake. We work. We remember and forget. We have fun and are depressed. And into the thick of it, or out of the thick of it, at moments of even the most humdrum of our days, God speaks.
Buechner, Frederick (2009-10-13). Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechne (pp. 2-3). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

I believe (with Buechner and many others) that God speaks (“calls”) through persons and events in our lives. It is a very personal communication if we are paying attention. By paying attention I mean listening and wondering in prayer, in study, in quiet, in action (as we do what we believe God is “calling” us to do). In each of these moments we gain information. When what we “hear” is confirmed by others in our faith community, we can definitely go forward with boldness (like John Coleridge Patteson and his companions).

What are your thoughts as you listen to this prayer, especially the notion of “call”? What are your experiences, your hopes, your beliefs, given voice in this prayer? Please continue the conversation in the Comment section. Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (from the Diocese of San Diego; "Retired" due to illness).

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