Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
–Words: Matthew 5:3-12 (King James Version)
–Music: Arvo Pärt (b. 1935)
The Lord is my light, the refuge of my life and my salvation; of whom then shall I be afraid?
If I take the wings of the morning or go up into heaven, your right hand will hold me.
In the shadow of your wings will I rejoice and bless your holy Name;
and I will sing of your Glory, O Lord my strength, as long as I live.
–Words: Psalms 27:1, 139:8, 63:4 & 7
–Music: Peter R. Hallock (1924-2014)
O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes precesque sumere.
Qui carne quondam contegi
Dignatus es pro perditis,
Nos membra confer effici
Tui beati corporis.
O Light born of Light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
With loving-kindness deign to receive
Supplicant praise and prayer.
Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
For the sake of the lost,
Grant us to be members
Of thy blessed body.
–Words: Office Hymn at Lauds on the Feast of the Transfiguration
–Music: Morten Lauridsen (born 1943)
In baptism, God says: ‘Remember who you are. Remember what you’re here for. So, let’s go!’ –Rev. Andrew K. Barnett
This sermon by The Rev. Andrew K. Barnett of Washington National Cathedral stuck a chord with me. Probably because of me going through a similar experience with the death of my mother a little over a year ago. But also because what he says about God’s call to us in baptism speaks to my soul.
When we are naked and alone, newborn or on a deathbed, or anything in between with nothing but the body God gave us, we are still and especially a creature of God. Built for loving. Equipped for serving. Called to return to wholeness. That is who we are. –Rev. Andrew K. Barnett
At the very core of who we are, we are creatures of God, beautifully and wonderfully created in God’s image. In the waters of baptism, God’s covenant with us is sacramentally made known to us. We are bonded in an unbreakable relationship with God. And that is a beautiful thing to periodically remind ourselves of.
We are God’s beloved. Thanks be to God!
Behold, O God, our defender, and look upon the face of thine anointed.
For one day in thy courts is better than a thousand… —Psalm 84:8–9a
–Herbert Howells (1892–1983)
Behold a star from Jacob shining, and a scepter from Israel rising, to reign in glory over the nations. Like some bright morning star is he, the promise of the coming day, beyond the night of sorrow. Break forth, O light! We, our joyful hearts uplifting with thanksgiving, hail the brightness of thy rising.
–Music: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
–Words: arr. by Henry Wilder Foote, after Numbers 24:17
When Christ’s appearing was made known,
King Herod trembled for his throne;
but he who offers heavenly birth
sought not the kingdoms of this earth.
The eastern sages saw from far
and followed on his guiding star;
by light their way to Light they trod,
and by their gifts confessed their God.
Within the Jordan’s sacred flood
the heavenly Lamb in meekness stood,
that he, to whom no sin was known,
might cleanse his people from their own.
Oh, what a miracle divine,
when water reddened into wine!
He spoke the word, and forth it flowed
in streams that nature ne’er bestowed.
All glory, Jesus, be to thee
for this thy glad epiphany:
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.
Words: Caelius Sedulius (5th century)