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Serendipitous Scripture

This weekend, Sebastian and I had the chance to tour Christ Church in Philadelphia. I had never been before at all, and he had never really been on a real tour of it.

The history there is just amazing. It’s quite humbling to realize that the baptismal font still in use today has been around since before most people have paper records of their family’s baptisms – over 600 years old and it was used to baptize William Penn in 1644. As the tour guide pointed out, the chandelier they planned to light that afternoon for a wedding is the same chandelier that was in place (and likely lit) for Benjamin Franklin’s daughter’s wedding.

StainedGlass

Another bit of history that I did not know stuck out to me after seeing incredible artwork in the form of stained glass. One of the scenes featured in the glass is the prayer given before the Continental Congress on September 7, 1774. The delegates asked the local Anglican minister open the session with a prayer. Following tradition of the time, the 36-year-old opened with the scripture that happened to be designated for that day, Psalm 35.

1 Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the Lord persecute them.
7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.
8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?
11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.
15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:
16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.
17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.
21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.
22 This thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.
23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
24 Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.
25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.
27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

It’s rather amazing how that so perfectly fit the circumstances of that very day. However, the real highlight of our visit was getting to see the actual book of church meeting notes from July 4, 1776.

July41776

5 Responses to “Serendipitous Scripture”

  1. Ed says:

    Amazing history! Thanks!

  2. Merle says:

    Absolutely amazing!!! I had no idea the fixtures were that old!!
    Next time I am in Philly I’ll be sure to check it out.

    Merle

  3. Sebastian says:

    I took both those pictures. Amazing to see with my own eyes the very creating document of the Episcopal Church of the United States, that severed itself from the Church of England. A picture doesn’t do it justice, because there are other pictures of it out there. But I saw it with my own eyes, laid out before me.

    Most people don’t get to see this. Bitter was fortunate enough to have one of her fellow Daughters of the American Revolution volunteer for Christ Church, who arranged a tour with the archivists who brought out stuff most people don’t get to see.

  4. SJ says:

    Small thing, Bitter…but I highly doubt that any building in Philly is 600 years old.

    (Actually, I can’t think of any structure in North America which has that age.)

    I still agree with you: the history in those buildings is amazing.

  5. Padre says:

    As an Anglican priest and regular reader here, let me just say that this post rocks! Thank you for it.

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