Sunday, May 7, 2017

the whiteness of the moon ere dawn

the whiteness of the moon ere dawn

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.

The hymn, which we call St. Patrick’s Breastplate, takes me so “further up and further in” to use C S Lewis’ words about Aslan’s call in Narnia, or from my own life’s experience, so further back and long ago, as to take my breath and skip my heart, the memories are that deep and clear. I don’t need eternity, may heaven be simply a return to all that, moon, Bay and all as I fade into the shadows. Whiteness and streaming from space across StAndrewsBay at three, the moon was gone an hour later. I guess you had to be there.

Sundays of Easter we are reading from Acts, Luke’s book of the Acts of the Apostles, written (?) by a traveling companion of Paul, perhaps about (?) 80 AD, perhaps in Rome (?) for a Roman patron who was taken with the Christian stories. Luke (having no signed autograph, we do not know his name) wrote first his gospel, calling on Mark and Q and his own material and memories; and then wrote about the beginnings of Christianity under first Peter and then Paul, as the Word began to spread across the Roman Empire and the known world. I’m pretty loose, free and easy, but think we may focus our Sunday School questions and discussion on Acts this morning. Online there are dozens or hundreds of outlines of Acts, I’ve found one that doesn’t boggle the mind with detail, that I may print and use as a handout.

This morning’s Acts lesson also leads to the Baptismal Covenant, and I may lead the class through a renewal. 

Acts 2:42-47 (ca 80 -130 AD?)
Those who had been baptized devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

The Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and 
renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
I do.

Do you believe in God the Father?
I believe in God, the Father almighty, 
     creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 
     He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
          and born of the Virgin Mary.
     He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
          was crucified, died, and was buried.
     He descended to the dead.
     On the third day he rose again.
     He ascended into heaven,
          and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 
     He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
     the holy catholic Church,
     the communion of saints,
     the forgiveness of sins,
     the resurrection of the body,
     and the life everlasting.

Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and 
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the 
I will, with God's help.

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever 
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
I will, with God's help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good 
News of God in Christ?
I will, with God's help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving 
your neighbor as yourself?
I will, with God's help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, 
and respect the dignity of every human being?
I will, with God's help.

The Celebrant concludes the Renewal of Vows as follows
May Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and
bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sins, keep us in eternal
life by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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