Thursday, 3 October 2019

A Benediction by St. Irenaeus

Our family recently went on a retreat in which the speakers, a husband and wife who both minister in the Christian academic sphere, encouraged the attendees by reminding us all why the church and the world need Christians in every walk of life who can do biblical, thoughtful, wise, and applicable theology.  They spoke of temptations unique to academic pursuits, which, it turns out, are not unique to academic pursuits.  Things like impatience with God, feelings of inadequacy to do what God has called me to do, envy of the gifts and abilities or callings of others, temptations to soft-peddle the truth to be more palatable to in the culture, temptation to compare with how God is working in others and be disappointed with his work in me, desire for recognition rather than just being satisfied with faithfulness, wishing for God to work differently in my life than he is, etc.  Or else those were just the personal applications the Holy Spirit was making to my heart....  It was simultaneously a challenge and an encouragement.

At any rate, Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 202) was one of the sources the speakers drew upon.  One of our worship times included this beautiful and truth-packed benediction from St. Irenaeus:

It is not thou that shapest God;
     it is God that shapest thee.
If thou art the work of God,
     await the hand of the artist
     who does all things in due season.
Offer him thy heart,
     soft and tractable,
     and keep the form
          in which the artist has fashioned thee.
Let thy clay be moist,
     lest thou grow hard
     and lose the imprint of his fingers.

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