Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Collect appointed for the Second Sunday in Advent was also prepared specifically for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer by Archbishop Canmer. The phrase all holy Scriptures in the first line is something of a dig at the Roman Catholic Church in that one of the criticisms made by the Reformers lay in that not all of the Scriptures were read by the RCC of that time. The Reformers were intent on bringing the entire Word of God to the people.
Notice also the phrasing of the second line: we may in such wise hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. The whole idea here is that the people will not only read lightly through the Scriptures, but rather that they will completely incorporate the Scripture into their daily lives, being intimately familiar with them.
The general theme for this Sunday in the overall Advent sequence is: The Passing World and the Enduring Word. The lessons for this Sunday are Luke 21.25: Heaven and earth pass away, but the Word of God endures, and Romans 15.4: The Word of God in the believing soul is the ground of patience, comfort and hope.
We are all well aware that physical Bibles are destoyed around the world everyday, and yet the Scripture plainly tells us that Heaven and earth pass away, but the Word of God endures. This makes it evident that it is the indwelling Word, the Christ within each of us, that endures, rather than the physical Bibles. Thus the emphasis on that we may in such wise hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. Only in this way do they become our hope in a passing world, a world that is vanishing before our eyes. The Gospel lesson points to the end of the world and the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with the words Heaven and earth pass away, but it is exactly for these times that we most need to have the indwelling Word, the Word that exists within each individual Christian heart.
As used in this Collect, the words patience and comfort are used in their archaic meanings of steadfastness and encouragement. Thus when the Collect speaks of that by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word, it actually means that by steadfastness, and encouragement of thy holy Word. That is easy enough to understand because we often find encouragement in the Holy Scripture when our situation is difficult. This speaks to exactly what St. Paul was addressing in the Epistle lesson when he spoke of The Word of God in the believing soul is the ground of patience, comfort and hope. It is the Word that gives Christians the strength to endure, to persist and to remain faithful to the end in this world, today as He has in all times past.
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.