From Whom No Secrets Are Hid
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We pray these words together almost every Sunday as we prepare to go deeper into our communal worship. Commonly known as the Collect for Purity, The Book of Common Prayer actually designates this as an optional prayer that the Priest might pray in preparation for what is to come, or that the people might pray silently as the priest prays aloud.
The petition is that we may set aside our own egos, needs, pains, wounds, and distractions and stay transparent to the love of God; open and receiving vessels, empty and waiting to be filled, wounded and ready to be healed, divided and ready to be reconciled, tired and ready to be renewed, hopeless and ready for hope to be restored. Maybe like no time in our modern history do we need to know that God desires to fill our hearts and minds with love, hope, patience and grace.
In all my years I have never let this prayer become rote, I pray it with all of my heart for myself and for all of you. How much I want to perfectly love God and how much do I want all of us to worthily magnify God’s name. It is a tremendous prayer of preparation and I hope as you encounter again this Sunday from wherever you are, you might hear and experience it again in a new and fresh way.
One of my favorite Biblical scholars, Walter Brueggemann, has a book called, Prayers for a Privileged People. In this book he composes modern day Psalms meant to call the comfortable into both comfort and affliction. He challenges our privilege even as he expresses our pain and fear. I want to share a Psalm from that book that I have shared before called—no surprise—From Whom No Secrets are Hid:
The priest says, “Almighty God…from whom no secrets are hid.”
We rush to the next phrase but now linger there.
We are rich conundrums of secrets,
we weave a pattern of lies in order to be
well thought of,
we engage in subterfuge about our truth.
We carry old secrets too painful to utter,
too shameful to acknowledge,
too burdensome to bear,
of failures we cannot undo,
of alienations we regret but cannot fix,
of grandiose exhibits we cannot curb.
And you know them.
You know them all.
And so we take a deep sigh in your presence,
no longer needing to pretend and
cover up and deny.
We mostly do not have big sins to confess,
only modest shames that do not
fit our hoped-for selves.
And then we find that your knowing is more
powerful than our secrets.
You know and do not turn away,
and our secrets that seemed too powerful
are emptied of strength,
secrets that seemed too burdensome
are now less severe.
We marvel that when you find us out
you stay with us,
taking us seriously,
taking our secrets soberly,
but not ultimately,
overpowering our little failure
with your massive love
and abiding patience.
We long to be fully, honestly
exposed to your gaze of gentleness.
In the moment of your knowing
we are eased and lightened,
and we feel the surge of joy move in our bodies,
because we are not ours in cringing
but yours in communion.
We are yours and find the truth before you
makes us free for
wonder, love, and praise – and new life.
Brueggemann’s words are sufficient and elegant in bursting that one phrase wide open. I pray that wherever you find yourself right now that you know that you are known and loved by God just as you are. Free yourself from the burden of secrets and shame and God’s love will make you whole.
Grace and Peace,
Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People,
Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, page 7.