Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our
being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by
your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our
life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are
ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(The Collect for Guidance, Morning Prayer II, 1979 BCP, p. 100)
“In you we live and move and have our being” is one of those Prayer Book phrases that is etched deep within me. I’m certain I’m not the only one as I hear it used in common conversation by Episcopalians quite often. It is a phrase that, if we really mean it, has a profound impact on the way we live our lives.
This phrase, and all of its depth of meaning, jumped out to me this morning as I read the lessons appointed for Sunday. It appears as a quotation in Paul’s speech to the Athenians in Acts 17. It being such a part of my vocabulary, I assumed that Paul was interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures for his strongly Greek crowd, but doing some digging, I realized that was not the case. Instead, Paul seems to be quoting the “semi-mythical” 7th/6th century Greek philosopher, Epimenides, who was writing about the immortality of Zeus. As he does throughout this speech, Paul appropriates the mythology and philosophy of the highly spiritual city of Athens to share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ. Be sure to tell anybody who goes nuts about the pagan history behind Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or having a best man at a wedding that this is actually a very old model of inculturation. I’ve digressed.
What this post is supposed to be about is how radically different the Christian faith would be if we took seriously the Epimendian, Pauline, and Canadian (attributed “From an Ancient Collect”)* call to remember God’s unending presence in our lives? If every move we make, if our lives, our very beings were informed by our relationship to God as beloved children?
* Thanks to Marion Hatchett and his Commentary on the American Prayer Book