As long as I can remember I have worn very little jewelry. Until high school I wore none except when during the latter part of the Viet Nam war I wore a bracelet with the name of a MIA/POW with the day that he was lost. After high school I wore my high school ring and after college I wore my wedding ring and my Clemson ring.
Then in July when Debbie and I were in Gatlinburg I stopped by a Celtic gift shop and saw a “Celtic Trinity Knot” and decided I really would like to wear one. It looks like this, in fact this is it
As I looked at it I was reminded of the words of the poem/hymn “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” an early Christian poem/hymn largely credited to St. Patrick but likely written by a later Irish saint:
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom.
I bind unto myself today.
Since teaching Church History for the past 7 years, Patrick has become one of my favorite people in church history. His testimony of the grace of Jesus and his commitment to the advancement of the kingdom is an inspiration. So a reminder of his emphasis on the glory of the Trinity was a welcome reminder. One of the reasons I love Patrick is that he was much like Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, in our modern age. Taylor went to China deciding to dress not like an Englishman but like a Chinaman that he might reach China with the Gospel of Jesus. Patrick returned to Ireland, a land where he was once a slave, not as a “Roman Christian” but as an “Irish Christian”. In most “Roman” pictures he looks like this
But Patrick would never have dressed like this. He would have dressed like the folk of Ireland, the people to whom he took the gospel of Jesus .
The Knot I bought came with a flimsy chain which my wife replaced with a beautiful new one as a birthday present. I wear it not with any superstition that wearing it protects me or acts as some “holy charm”. I wear it as a reminder of the truth of the Trinity, the truth that our glorious God exists ultimately in community and calls on us – calls me – to live in Christian community, even when we – I – feel we would rather be like the first century hermits and live by ourselves (in my case with just my wife!).
So as I anticipate beginning the Advent Season tomorrow it is with joy that I finger the “Holy Knot” around my neck. I know that many Christians wear crosses and I understand that. For me, however, I am glad for the daily reminder (actually a reminder several times a day) of God having binded the Trinity to me, of binding himself to me in the glory of his redemption through the one who became man in the glorious plan of the Trinity in eternity past:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:4-5 ESV).
One last thing. The new chain is a reminder of a newer love, the older one having its foundation in eternity past. The newer love is the love of my wife, Debbie. A love that is refreshing and wonderful every day. A love willing to forgive the sins that I bring into this glorious relationship. No one knows my faults like this beautiful woman, yet no one loves me like she does. Only God’s grace in her life can be the reason for this. I am so glad to have found such a one to love me.
So as I think about my “Trinity Knot” let me offer a happy Advent to all of you. May the glory of the incarnation be a renewed source of awe, wonder, glory, joy, praise and worship. May the mystery and the glory of the Trinity be a refreshing “knot around your neck”.