“Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more…”

English Before HarfleurWell, dear friends and readers, you may have been wondering if I was going to show up at the breach once more, but frankly, I’ve been wondering which one to choose between the continuing onslaught on the First Amendment and the new battering on the Second Amendment.

As Obama begins his second term we’ll see how much of his political capital he squanders through overreach and how many of his orders and policies he’s able to foist upon us. Despite his heavy-handedness in the last few weeks I’m encouraged by what I’ve read of the response of Americans. The Christian owners of Hobby Lobby are standing firm and haven’t given in to Obama’s and Sibelius’ efforts to box in their beliefs by restricting them to Sunday-in-church-only Christianity.

That reminds me, Wednesday, January 16, was Religious Freedom Day in America. On that date in 1786, “An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom,” was passed by the Virginia General Assembly. It’s known as the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and was written by Thomas Jefferson, becoming  “the forerunner of the first amendment protections for religious freedom,”  It’s second paragraph reads:

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.

Obama issued a proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, but the irony of an administration extolling our Constitution’s protection “to practice our faith openly and as we choose,” even as it works to force Christians to act against their beliefs and conscience did not go unnoticed. Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, wrote:

…we deeply regret that the President does not mention the HHS mandate, which was issued by his administration and which is now trampling the religious freedom of millions of individuals, schools, hospitals, charities, and businesses throughout our nation….Religious freedom certainly includes worship, but it extends beyond the four walls of a church. If it is not to be an empty promise, religious freedom must also include acting on one’s deepest religious beliefs when one is feeding the poor, caring for the sick, educating the young, or run- ning a business. The HHS mandate ignores that simple truth and is therefore out of step with our traditions and our laws, which promise religious freedom for all.

Agincourt ThanksgivingYou may also be wondering why there are references in this post to Henry V’s invasion of France in 1415. The headline is a quote from Henry V’s speech before the Siege of Harfleur, and the two scenes depict Harfleur and the Field of Agincourt.

Yesterday morning after reading Psalm 115, I was surprised at what I learned from Derek Kidner about the first verse.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.
Psalm 115:1

This is what Kidner had to say:

The fine opening verse has the atmosphere of a great deliverance, either present or to come, and has made a place for itself in history. Kirkpatrick quotes, for example, Holinshed’s account of the singing of Psalm 114–115 after the battle of Agincourt, when the whole army was ordered to kneel at the words Non nobis, Domine . . . (Not to us, O Lord). On a very different occasion, William Wilberforce marked the passing of his bill to abolish the slave trade by meditating on this verse; and many more examples could be given.1

Wilberforce worked for twenty years before the Slave Trade Act was passed in 1807, but slavery itself was not abolished until 1833, over twenty-five years later and just a few days before he died. That’s literally decades of labor and prayer by Wilberforce and many others. I knew about Wilberforce acknowledging God’s mighty hand with Psalm 115:1, but I’d never known that Henry V had his army sing those psalms and kneel to acknowledge God’s deliverance—they’d been outnumbered 4 to 1 by the French.

Don’t despise the day of small things or think there is little you can do. The wall is breached in many places, and each of us can find that point at which we can make a difference in the lives of others. I’m thankful for those of you who follow this blog, and each of you who read or ‘Like’ a post. You’ve all been very encouraging to me.

Each generation has its battle to fight, and this is ours. Keep on, and leave the results in the hands of God.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

The game’s afoot: once more into the breach.
William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act III, Scene I. France. Before Harfleur.
William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, Scene III. The English camp at Agincourt.
Edmund Blair Leighton, “The English Before Harfleur,” Cassell’s History of England, Volume 1. The King’s Edition ed. (Cassell and Company, Ltd., London, New York, Toronto & Melbourne: 1909) 553. Retrieved on January 18, 2013.
Edmund Blair Leighton, “The Thanksgiving Service on the Field of Agincourt,” Cassell’s History of England, Volume 1. The King’s Edition ed. (Cassell and Company, Ltd., London, New York, Toronto & Melbourne: 1909) 557. Retrieved on January 18, 2013.
1Derek Kidner, Psalms 73–150 (Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, Downers Grove IL: 1975, 1978) 404.

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