Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Get Thee WAY Behind Me....

My dear wife of twenty six years is a wonderful woman. But she can be a very rigid, hardline person. You see, she insists that since I am married to her I am not to flirt with other people. Can you believe that! Of course you can. That is the way it is supposed to be. And yet.... we are the Bride of Christ and how often do we flirt with the world?

I think we mean to be better than we are. We just forget that sin is dangerous. I don't really need the book that came with my lawn mower. It warns me not to put my hand under the deck when the blades are turning. I think I already knew that, somehow. But I DO need reminding that sin is bad, ugly and dangerous. The Israelites had that crude altar built out of uncut stones, soaked with blood and burnt hair and fat; an altar they were never allowed to clean. It stood there as a fragrant reminder of the ugliness of sin. We, on the other hand, call adultery "an affair" or "a fling." We don't say we lied, we say we misspoke. You can think of a dozen or more instances where we have used our language to excuse our behavior by watering down the "bad" word that implied sin and judgment and replacing it with an "oops" word that implies "well, we're only human..."

Saint Patrick was a man like the rest of us. He was tempted with sin every day of his life. One of the few prayers we know he personally wrote is almost entirely unknown today, but I will put it here so that you can see how seriously he took sin and how much he wanted to stay away from it. What would our lives be like if took sin this seriously? How our our words, thoughts, and actions be different today? How would our entertainments change? We will never know until we declare that we are married to Christ and that no other has a call on our affections or time.

Prayer of the Sign of Saint Patrick

At Tara today in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power
And the Sun with its brightness
And the snow with its whiteness
And fire with all the strength it hath
And lightning with its rapid wrath
And the winds with their swiftness along the path
And the sea with its deepness
And the rocks with their steepness
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place
By God's almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness!

In other words: get thee wwwwaaaaayyyyyy behind me, Satan!


At 9/14/2005 11:34:00 AM , Blogger Serena said...

Wow! I didn't know that was his. I read that in one of Madeleine L'Engle's books and always like it. I'm sure she acknowledged it somewhere in the book, but I remained ignorant for not reading wherever it was.
I think that is what Torah is supposed to do in us, help us to see how despicable sin is and to hate it as G-d hates it. Then we will find obeying our Redeemer a delight as He is the One who gives us victory over sin.

At 9/14/2005 02:59:00 PM , Blogger Lovell's Lookout said...

Great Blog... we take sin way to lightly. I love the illustration about your wife. When we take seriously the Biblical illustrations of our relationship with God and Christ it gives us such perspective. YOu writings and preaching ( I listened to your Richland Hills church mens retreat) are a blessing. Keep moving the pegs.

At 9/14/2005 04:05:00 PM , Blogger Chalmers said...

This prayer is very convicting as it reminds us that we should be removing all sin from our lives, not just the big ones. I have struggled with this regarding entertainment. I think sometimes I should just throw the TV out the window (checking to make sure the elderly lady downstairs is not on her porch first).

At 9/15/2005 10:33:00 AM , Blogger markemason said...

OK, you've convinced me to read and learn something about St. Patrick. Can you suggest a good source or two to invest in?

At 9/15/2005 07:19:00 PM , Blogger jettybetty said...

Okay--you've convicted me to take sin more seriously!


At 9/15/2005 08:09:00 PM , Blogger PatrickMead said...

Mark, you might want to start with "Discovering Saint Patrick" by Thomas O'Loughlin, a lecturer at University of Wales-Lampeter. UW-L, by the way, has a great distance Masters program in Celtic Christianity; the only one in the world. It is also inexpensive, even with the falling dollar.

Other books you might enjoy are "The Life of Saint Patrick and his place in history" by John B. Bury and "Confession of Saint Patrick" by John Skinner, the latter is a translation of all Patrick's writings. "Saint Patrick's World: The Christian Culture of Ireland's Apostolic Age" by Liam De Paor is required reading for anyone who wishes to know how to reach a non-Christian, post-Christian, postmodern world, as is "Celtic Evangelism" by George Hunter III.

All of these are available at Amazon.

At 9/16/2005 09:01:00 AM , Blogger CrazyJo said...

I think I first came across this prayer in a song called Encircling by Iona on their album Journey Into The Morn. While the lyrics are not the same, they do include the whole prayer in their Album notes. It's a really beautiful song by a good Celtic Christian group.

At 9/16/2005 11:31:00 AM , Blogger Eric said...

Another great message PM!

We do take sin too lightly. We either condemn or ignore rather than love and offer guidance.

I was going to second Mark's request. Thanks for the information on the books.

I was left wondering what would St. Patrick think today about how we celebrate his life on St. Patrick's day.

At 9/16/2005 02:27:00 PM , Blogger PatrickMead said...

Interestingly enough, it is not celebrated in Ireland, except by some tourist groups. The green beer and dancing thing is strictly American.


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