Friday, February 23, 2018

St David's Day 2018

Anthem for St  David
A voice resounds
and seas and mountains echo here and there
prophetic tidings
blowing, like the wind
Dewi Sant!  Dewi Sant! 
    A towering figure strides
    his every step is marking out a path
    whose steady purpose
    is to lead beyond the hills
   Dewi Sant! Dewi Sant!

With all his strength he bends,
and binds his soul to one
whose Principality
is founded on a Cross
Salvator mundi, Salvator mundi

March 1st is the Feast day of David, Patron Saint of Wales. We know relatively little about St David, not even the precise dates of his life. Best estimates suggest that he died around 590 AD in what was, for that period, very old age. Over fourteen centuries have passed since then, yet David is far from forgotten. It is no surprise, perhaps, that he is the patron saint of Wales, since Wales was the land of his birth, the focus of most of his work, and even yet the home of his major shrine – St David’s Cathedral in the town of St David’s on the Welsh coast of the Irish Sea.

Much more surprising is the fact that in almost every state of the United States there is at least one church dedicated to David. This is a truly remarkable fact. Modern America is very far removed from Celtic Wales, not just by thousands of miles and hundreds of years, but by huge cultural differences – so big in fact that the kind of life Americans live today would have been literally inconceivable to David. He could never have made even the wildest guess that in the far distant future Christians with a radically different life-style would nevertheless be dedicating their churches to him.

St David's Cathedral, Wales
Yet, there are many ties that bind us to him still. He read the same Bible, preached the same Gospel, celebrated the same sacraments, and put his faith in the same God. Moreover, he shared the same sense of Christian mission described in the Epistle set for this day. Like Paul, David saw himself “entrusted with the message of the gospel, not to please mortals, but to please the God who tests our hearts.” The monasteries he established are testimony to this, since the way of life they prescribed was very austere -- simple fare, no alcohol, strenuous labor. It was this austerity, nonetheless, that attracted a large number of converts among people who wanted their faith to make a real difference to the way they led their lives.

The Gospel for St David’s Day is very short. "The kingdom of God” Jesus declares, “is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come."

David planted seeds without knowing how they would sprout and grow. God gave them the earth to grow in. All these generations later, we are part of the very large harvest that has come.  It is impossible to envisage a world fourteen centuries in the future, as remote from us as ours is from St David's. But we know that we have also been entrusted with the Gospel in our time, precisely to plant seeds for a future only God can imagine.

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