Posted by Mark Beckwith on December 23, 2010
One of our longest hymns is St. Patrick's breastplate, which begins "I bind unto myself today...." It is often sung at ordinations. It is seven verses long. It is a variation of an ancient Celtic practice of getting dressed in Christ. As people put on whatever they were going to wear that day, they were intentional of adorning themselves with the presence of Christ. It is an ancient practice worth preserving The hymn derives from the Celts -- and I suspect they got it from Paul: "Put on the whole armor of God." (Ephesians 6:11) This is not preparation for war, but is an admonition to be prepared for the struggle "against the rules, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (6:12) It's a tough world out there, and we had better be ready. Fasten the belt of truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, put on your feet whatever you need to proclaim the gospel of peace. Take the shield of faith, take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (6: 14-17) Get dressed. Be ready. The world needs our witness -- to grace, to hope, to peace -- to Christ's glory.