I arise today...
Through the light of the sun…
The Lorica of Saint Patrick (St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer)
St Patrick died on the 17th of March, 493. In his Confession he writes: “For the sun we see rises each day for us at His command, but it will never reign, neither will its splendor last, but all who worship it will come wretchedly to punishment. We, on the other hand, shall not die, who believe in and worship the true sun, Christ, who will never die, no more shall he die who has done Christ's will, but will abide for ever just as Christ abides forever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and with the Holy Spirit before the beginning of time and now and forever and ever. Amen.”
Throughout history the image of the sun has represented “God” and in many cultures and religions, the sun itself is worshiped as the highest god. To ancient people who did not have satellites and cameras in space to explain the heavenly bodies, it is no wonder the sun would command such power and awe. Think about it. For life on earth, the sun controls everything.
The sun gives us light by which to see and work and live, and yet it is so bright that no one can actually look upon it. The rhythms of day and night provide our bodies with appropriate rest and awaken us to enjoy the life we are given.
The sun provides warmth to keep animals, crops, and people from freezing to death in colder climates.
Fruit and vegetables tend to grow more hearty when there is plenty of sunlight, and while rain is also necessary, too much can flood the fields and wash out the harvest. The sun is needed to dry things out before it rains again. This cycle of sun and rain is crucial to our survival. Too much or too little of either is detrimental.
Today we have learned far more about the necessity and the power of the sun and through the technology of solar panels, we have even discovered that the sun is a source of tremendous renewable energy, enough to power our entire planet with no drain on our natural resources. There is nothing we as humans can do to burn out the energy of the sun.
In so many ways, the sun serves as both the source and the sustainer of life. No wonder the god of the sun stood above so many other gods in ancient times.
For the people of Ireland in St. Patrick’s day, it was no different, and interestingly enough, Patrick did not try to argue against them. In fact, the circle we see at the center of the Celtic Cross is a way of acknowledging everything the people believed about the sun. Yet when juxtaposed with the cross, it takes on new meaning.
While the sun is indeed great, it is not great in and of itself. Rather, the sun is a gift from a greater source, who is the Son of God who died upon the cross so that we might come before the throne not of the sun, but of the very one who spoke the sun into existence.
So let us arise with joy in the light of the sun. Let the sun’s warmth bring a smile upon our face and the sun’s light guide us through the day. Let the setting of the sun grant us peace and rest through the night and comfort in the knowledge that it will rise again.
But in all of this, let us worship and bow down to the Creator of the sun, who gave us this tremendous gift. “Let there be light,” God said… and before anything else came into being, there was light, and God said it was good.
So let us arise today in the light of the sun and walk by the light of the Son of the Most High.
1. Meditate on a time when you found yourself in awe at the beauty and glory of the sun, perhaps a particular sunrise or sunset. What meaning did that time have for you?
2. How does the sun direct your attention to the Creator and remind you of the Son of God?
3. People will turn their lives upside down just to catch a glimpse of the sun during a solar eclipse. What would it look like if we were as intentional about seeking the face of Christ, the Son of God, in every person we meet?
Our journey through St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer continues next week:
... I arise today,
Through the radiance of moon…