I arise today...
Through the strength of heaven…
The Lorica of Saint Patrick (St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer)
Welcome back as we continue our year long meditation through what is known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer. We pick up today where we left off before our “Lenten Disturbance.” To catch up on the first part of the prayer, check out my reflections beginning in January here.
As Christ has risen from the grave, so let us resume our journey with Him by arising in the strength of heaven.
As the old country song declares, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” I’ve heard preachers say that they are overjoyed about the idea of going to heaven, but they don’t want to be on the next bus-load.
The apostle Paul writes:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
If heaven is such a joyful prospect and we all desire to be there, why do we want to wait as long as we can to get there. They say Disney World is the “most magical place on earth,” but if I tell my 5 year old daughter we are going there one day, she does not respond with, “That sounds great Daddy, but no rush. Maybe one day we can go after I’m old and tired and worn out.” Of course not. She wants to go NOW, if not sooner.
She asked me about heaven the other day because having two parents in pastoral ministry exposes her to sickness and death on a regular basis. I told her it was even better than Disney and she asked two very important questions. First, “Will there be rides?” and second, “Will Anna and Elsa be there?” At least she has her priorities straight. On the other hand, she has also said on many occasions that she can’t wait to go there so she can see Jesus.
That’s the beauty of today’s prayer. We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to see Jesus. The strength of heaven is not found in death, but in life.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
If all those who care about heaven are sitting around watching Christian movies on TV as if the earth is nothing more than one giant waiting room until it’s our turn to enter the pearly gates, then who is working to fulfill God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?
“I arise TODAY in the strength of heaven.”
Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Mark 1:15)
As Gungor sings, “I don’t know what you’ve been told, but heaven is coming down to the world.”
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” a for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ b or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
So what are we waiting for? Let the Kingdom of Heaven come upon the earth as it is in heaven. Let us rejoice that God has made his dwelling place among us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let us not wait until we are in the grave to arise in the strength of heaven, but let us arise TODAY and walk with Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth. Let us open our eyes to the glorious presence of his Kingdom all around, that we may proclaim this good news to the world and that all might work together to bring about the fullness of the reign of Christ on earth as it is in heaven.
1. Do you think of heaven primarily as a future dwelling place or a present reality?
2. How do you experience the tension between wanting to “go to heaven” and “not wanting to die”?
3. In what ways is God calling you to live in the strength of heaven today?
Our journey through St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer continues next week:
... I arise today,
Through the light of the sun…