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Church at home! (March 15)

Dear Trinity Church,

In a few minutes, our church staff will meet at our normal worship hour, 9am, to pray and plan for the upcoming weeks. We look forward to staying in regular touch with you. Keep journeying with all of us through Backyard Pilgrim - it is wonderful to know that I am on the same page (literally) with others in the church. And such an irony that many of us are confined to our backyards! Let's be pilgrims together! Pastor Matt and Carson are planning on visiting your small groups this week.

As for today, the music that we had prepared for worship (thanks team!) centered on St Patrick (whose saint day is Tuesday, the 17th) and his amazing way of seeing the Trinity as integrated in all of life. Since our own worship service was canceled (but not our daily worship!) and since St Patrick's Day parades all over the country have been canceled (including Dublin's), I am sending you what I was going to teach about St Patrick and the Trinity because it is so appropriate for right now.

There are two hymns attributed to St Patrick, Be Thou My Vision and St Patrick's Breastplate. (If you don't know his story - of being an English teenager in post-Roman britain, captured by slave traders and hauled off to cold and lonely Ireland, whose faith was rekindled there in the injustice and loneliness of slavery ... who had a vision which led to his escape, and then returned to evangelize his captors ...  but I digress!) In the context of the early dark ages, Patrick brought light to Ireland and gifted us with his incredible song "the Lorica" (which was the leather protective breastpiece of a Roman soldier's armor). Patrick gave us a "protection prayer" - a spiritual armor of sorts - and it is as encompassing as it is personal. My favorite thing is that Patrick brings in all of creation, all of history, and all of Christ to come to his aid and together to weave his breastplate against darkness, fear, and death. Patrick begins each verse with "I bind unto myself today..." With his first and last verse, he weaves into his spiritual armor the Trinity.

The second verse, he weaves Christ's humanity into his protective armor, and with the third verse, Abraham and the patriarchs, the prophets, saints, and martyrs. Not to stop there, Patrick decides that all of creation - being good - can also be woven in (storms, wind, rocks, the "deep salt sea") for verse four. For verse five, Patrick contemplates God's own attributes and weaves them into his armor:

I bind to myself today God's Power to guide me, God's Might to uphold me, God's Wisdom to teach me, God's Eye to watch over me, God's Ear to hear me, God's Word to give me speech, God's Hand to guide me.

But my favorite is when the tune shifts, the meter changes, and he turns to Christ:

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 who love me Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

This is one of the greatest hymns! It wrestles with darkness, and yet also reminds us that when we are in Christ, we already have the protection we need. In Christ, we are held beyond our wildest hopes. This morning, as Matt and I sent Chapman off to SeaTac to return to Westmont and help close down the dorms (he is an RA), and return to us by driving back up from California, we sang "Christ be with me" over him - as we did when he was young, and this was his favorite tuck-in song. It struck me as so timely for all of us living in these fearful times, that we need to remind ourselves of Whose we Are, and to bind unto ourselves all the strength and protection we already have.

Here is a link to the lyrics.

And although this is fairly cheesy-dramatic, it is a fun representation of the hymn for kids(with attention to Patrick's historical time of sword-fighting and danger!)

And finally for parents & caregivers: now that we are all home for six weeks with our children, we get to embrace this unexpected gift. This has been a helpful post for me to love with intentionality, because "intentional loving is an act of worship." Families might enjoy a simple Sabbath liturgy on Sunday, to set it apart as "holy" and a different day than all the others. With no school, no sports, no church, a simple liturgy such as this might be a way to mark time and bring families together in good conversation. Here's a Sabbath liturgy that our family does on a monthly basis, but it will probably become weekly over the next few months! (Skip to p. 8 for the liturgy. Recipe for Challah bread here, but any bread will do!) In the strong name of the Trinity, Julie Canlis


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