Marking Our Days
I like to give a little talk about how we make time sacred whenever we do a service out in the community, or when we have a lot of visitors that may not be familiar with the liturgical seasons. Every year we savor the Gospel by having seasons that tell the story of Christ. The liturgical year begins with Advent when we prepare for the incarnation, and we go through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and my favorite, “The Season After Pentecost”. These seasons tell the story of our salvation, and they help give depth to how we mark our days. On top of the liturgical seasons we also have a calendar of saint days that we typically observe on our Wednesday Eucharist. Almost every single day is the anniversary of the day a saint has died, and we remember them by telling their stories. This is another way that we give meaning to time. All of this points to the truth that there is no such thing as truly ordinary time. Every day is significant, relevant to the gospel, and has its own powerful message to give us in our own day. These are all examples of how we mark time with the global Church. Most other denominations observe the liturgical year to one degree or another, and many other traditions remember the saints, and we join with our brothers and sisters in this practice.
St. Patrick’s Breastplate
One of my favorite hymns is hymn 370 -- I Bind Unto Myself Today. It is also known by its tune name, St. Patrick’s Breastplate. The words of this hymn are a lorica, a Latin name meaning “body armor”. A breastplate, of course, is one of the most important pieces of body armor, protecting the heart and organs. In our Christian tradition, the lorica became a prayer recited for protection, in which a person invoked the power of God, and put on as armor the power of God, as a safeguard against all evil in its many forms. An ancient lorica from the seventh century is still a popular prayer in Ireland today.
“The power of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the holy spirit be upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the holy spirit in my ears. “
St. Patrick, who lived from 372 to 466 AD, wrote the lorica which has become our wonderful hymn. The hymn is long, six verses, in which each verse invokes protection for us. When you read this hymn, you will see that each verse involves putting on different armors of protection, so that by verse six one is completely covered. Verse one invokes the protection of the Trinity , verse two calls upon the life of Christ to protect us -- incarnation, baptism, death, resurrection, ascension and judgement day. Verse three calls upon the protection of God’s creation, this beautiful earth. Verse four invokes the power of God.
In verse five, we literally cover ourselves in Christ as our armor. Christ be with me, within me, behind me, before me, beside me, beneath me, and above me. Think of a soldier putting on armor to protect himself in war. Finally, in verse six, the Trinity is again invoked in the final binding of this lorica.
Take time to read the words of this ancient prayer. It is mystical and beautiful and has a rhythm that binds my heart.
I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Church is More than Sunday Worship
November has been a very busy month at Christ Episcopal Church and we hope you have joined us for some of the activites
. There has been the conclusion of Episcopal 101, a wonderful joint meeting of the Women's and Men's clubs with a fascinating presentation by Mary Lane, a noted journalist, art historian and author. Check the calendar for activites that interest you. Adult Sunday School class is near the end of their study of Mark. Up next, the study of Genesis or Revelation. Join the conversation, led by Father Nick, at 9:30 on Sundays in the Parish House Library. Looking ahead to December, the UTO in gathering will be on the 16th, and rehearsals for the pageant will begin. Would you like to help serve the community? Loaves and Fishes is on November 28 and Grace Network is always accepting donations. Come, make a difference in your life and the lives of others.