ST. BEDE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
1609 Elm St. Forest Grove, OR
We strive to know Christ more deeply and bring others to his redeeming grace.
The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred
and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
(Genesis 12:1, NRSV).
Do you remember the first time you left your parents’ home?
Most of us may have been in our early teens or twenties. I can
well see this tender time of transition - of hopefulness and
trepidation, of the call of the open road and the unseen potholes
in it - because my own kids are navigating the leap from the nest.
Abram, soon to be Abraham, was an old man by the time he
was called from his father’s house, but I don’t think that made
things any easier. In fact, it may have been harder because age can make us more set in our ways and habits. I remember when Wade’s job called us from Michigan to Oregon, I was 34. When he gave me the news, I could barely breathe. What would our lives be like? I was leaving everything I knew behind me to start over. I was a little excited, but also grieving. It was a beautiful and challenging time.
Lent is very much like that, a call to leave our native lands, and obey a call to who knows where except to a land that God shows us. Maybe we have been in a rut; maybe we have been playing it safe; maybe there are new ways we need to grow in love of God and neighbor. One of my favorite prayers about journeys is St. Brendan’s prayer. Its words humble me in their beautiful surrender to the power and protection of God. It is about a journey by sea, but of course there are many ways to journey without even leaving our own room, so it can apply to anyone anywhere.
The prayer involves a series of questions followed by a refrain. The first question considers the call to leave our native country. The second considers reliance on God’s providence. The third is about whether to repent. The fourth is about surrender. Finally there is a plea for help. The refrain comes between these by way of answer. You can almost see Brendan, patron saint of sailors -- on land, considering the journey, saying farewell to his native country, kneeling in prayer, setting out and then continuing to pray for help while hoisting his sail into the “wild waves.”
Prayer of St. Brendan
Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?
“Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
and somehow, make my obedience count for You.”
Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without fame, without honor? Shall I throw myself wholly upon You, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on? Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?
Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks? Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land?
Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict? Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean? O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?
O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?
MESSAGE FROM OUR VICAR