God given strength

I arise today Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism, Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial, Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension, Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, 2nd stanza

Taken out of the rest of the poem, this looks suspiciously like something we might read in church. A creed of some sort. And it is, but not in the usual way. It’s not an “I agree with the general ideas or principles” kind of thing: it’s a “there isn’t a single part of Jesus’ life that was unrelated to God” proclamation.

Christ is born: God giving him to the world; Christ is baptized: Jesus gives his work life over to God for us.

Christ is crucified: this world of fear rejects him; Christ is buried: his friends and family give Jesus back to the earth and to God.

Christ is resurrected: Jesus reveals the face of God, his face, to his followers; Christ ascends: the humanity of Jesus is forever part of the inner life of God.

His descent for the judgment of doom: death cannot separate anyone from the love of God. Our small, partial, fragile egos are doomed because our true, whole, God given selves are too big and too holy for them to contain.

These things we read in poems and creeds were never meant to drag us down or punish us. They are our strength because they reveal the soul saving truth: no one is excluded from the love of God. We arise in this time and in this place through the strength they give us.

Published by

Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “God given strength”

  1. I really like this. It seems to me that when we talk about the love of God for all creation we (I) can forget the strength that this love brings us. I tend to think of love as warm and comforting and miss the almighty power of it–the action it brings to life. We end our prayers in Jesus’ name and I need to remember the power that evokes from the one who has been given “All authority in heaven and on earth..” (Mt.28:18) This is a great reminder for me to pray boldly knowing that God is giving me the strength to do God’s will, while always remembering “from whence that strength cometh!”

    1. Thanks, Bill! Your comments always bring out something I hadn’t thought of before. What a wonderful gift! Peace, Johnna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *