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Archive for February, 2008

Patrick’s Breastplate

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 today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in 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 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 star lit 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.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

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.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

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I invite you, therefore, in the name of Christ, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our Maker and Redeemer.

Ash Wednesday Service BCP, 266.

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Lent – Why Ashes?

(written in anticipation of Ash Wednesday)

Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the season of Lent – a 40 day period of spiritual reflection, fasting, and abstaining from sin, particularly habitual sin. In our worship services, you will notice a somber tone in prayers, songs, sermons, and liturgies. For example, after this Sunday there will be no more “Alleluias!” They will not return until Easter morning when we celebrate our risen Lord.

Lent is a serious and bleak time in the calendar of the Christian church where we are all urged toward a greater reality of our limitations, sinfulness, and brokenness. So Lent keeps us honest. It begs us to put our fingers on a life lived if God had left us to ourselves.

Ash Wednesday, for instance, reminds us lest we forget that we are going to die. The words of the Ash Wednesday liturgy are:

Remember, O Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.

The ashes remind you and everyone who sees you that we are all dying. We are all headed for the earth.

Remember, O Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.

These are the words first spoken by our loving God on the day of the Fall in Genesis 3:19. They ring down the long corridor of the centuries: “Remember! You are dust! To dust you will return!”

But this is not the end! Praise God! The symbolism is powerful! Lent is bookended on one side by the death of Ash Wednesday and on the other by the Resurrection of Easter Sunday! That’s why the ashes are placed on the forehead in the form of a cross. They are a reminder that though we will surely return to the earth and die – become ashes, as it were – there is One who came among us and did this. There is One over whom death had NO claim. And His death is the destruction of death itself – the wiping out of sin, the gift of unending life.

Thus the ashes are placed upon a dying people under the sign that this death has itself been transformed by Christ’s enduring it for us. You will die, but you will not die hopeless. You will go to the grave in the certainty that He who became dust and ashes for you will RAISE you up. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory to Him forever!!!

Remember: Lent is not for Lent’s sake. It is anticipation of Christ’s cross, death, and grave. It is preparation for the passion of God pouring out His power for his people. Let us prepare well together for His glory.

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