In our collect this morning we prayed: “Oh Lord make us to have perpetual love and reverence for our holy name. What does that word perpetual mean? The Latin word “perpetualis” means uninterrupted, continuing forever, everlasting, for all time, non-ceasing, non-stop, continual, and on-going. It is an unceasing focus and existential reality of being, a mind-set or a worldview that is shaped by perpetual devotion to God. It is an inward visionary process that propels and shapes all your social structures and all the things you do. It’s a way to live, a rule of life.
In our first reading this morning we read about David facing the giant Goliath. David is unafraid and with fearless love faces this giant head on. David had some skills. If he could have entered the Olympics as a sling-shot athlete he probably would have won a medal. He knew what to do with a slingshot. We are told that David ran quickly into the array of battle and slung the stone that hit Goliath between the eyes, and the giant fell to the ground. This zeal to go forward is symbolic to the zeal that God wants us to have a perpetual love and reverence for His name. It’s an applied spirituality that is intended to be ongoing…with fearless love and faith. (1 Samuel 17:32-49)
Perpetuity of faith…forever, continual faith, living your life today, tomorrow, the next day, just like you are living it right now in this present moment, full of faith, experiencing the gospel of Christ in your life, existentially applying the gospel of faith and fearless love, the same faith that David had, who with fearless love faced the giant head-on, and with his slingshot took out the giant. Just as we have faith and fearless love, we can take out the giants that challenge us.
Paul says “I have been on the top, on the bottom, I’ve been blessed with abundance, and there have been times when I did not have anything. I have suffered. I have been beaten, in agony, sick and hurting. But, whether I have had money or not, that’s not how I calculate riches. I am rich in Christ, and my resources have nothing to do with it” (2 Corinthians 6:1-13) Paul is expressing perpetual faith, living one day at a time, and not allowing the circumstances of his life to influence his zeal and faith toward God.
Today we celebrate the feast day of “Saint Alban”, patron saint of converts, persecuted and refugees. In your bulletin you can read a little bit about the story of St. Alban’s perpetual love and faith. According to the famous historian known as St. Bede, often referred to as the Venerable Bede, Alban lived sometime during the 3rd or 4th century. According to tradition, during a religious persecution of Christians, Alban hid a Christian priest named Amphibalus from the Roman soldiers in his home. He was so impressed with the message and life of this priest that he converted to Christianity. Eventually the Romans found out that Alban was hiding the priest and they came for him. Alban traded clothes with the priest and the Romans took him thinking they had taken the priest. He was brought to the judge who instantly recognized Alban. The judge was angry and demanded that Alban denounce Christianity. He would not, and after much persuasion and argument, he ordered Alban to be executed. The testimony and the martyrdom of Alban so impressed the judge that he ceased all persecutions of Christians in the area. Alban knew what the priest needed, and he gave it to him. Alban gave his life to minister to the overwhelming and obvious need of the priest. Just as David showed fearless and perpetual faith in the face of an unbelievable battle, and in the midst of a storm Jesus models peace. “Let there be peace! Be still!”
In our journey to the other side, we are instructed to keep our eyes on Jesus, the “author and the finisher of our faith”. He not only initiates this faith life, but Jesus finishes our journey with us. He is a closer. (Something the Padres could use more of—closers). (Revelation 22:13) Jesus wants us to learn to live our Christian lives in the “NOW”, not just the future. The psalmist says: “This is the day the Lord has made. Today, this is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it”. (Psalm 118:24)We take this day and then the next and then the next. We take one day at a time as Jesus instructs us to live each day as if it is a gift from God. (Matthew 6:34)
In the middle of the storms in your life, whatever is going on, and I’m familiar with the storms that are going on in many of your lives, there is peace. There is a deep perpetual peace in Christ. And, in the unity of the faith that we see in Psalm 133, “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to live together in harmony and unity, to care for one another, to feel one another’s pain, to share one another’s grief and sorrows, to share the joys of this Christian life together, to give this testimony: “Peace be still! Peace by still”! (Perpetual peace)
I will close with this old song that I remember singing in church in my youth. It is song written by George Cooper in 1889 at a Methodist camp meeting near West Bend, Wisconsin.
Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll!