We have met different people, encountered different lives and drawn inspiration from different characteristics all with a common thread: devotion to God.
Some remained local, godly examples to all who came to them – David’s heart was for the people who surrounded him. Many, like Brendan (navigator), travelled extensively, helping point us towards a relationship with God. It is a fallacy to think that life long ago lacked intelligence and people did not travel; the journey just took longer, that’s all. Serf came from Canaan to mainland Scotland; Cuthbert, born in Dunbar, was Anglo-Saxon but of Celtic Christian ways.
Non cared; Adomnán protected. Hilda’s gentleness, nobility and intellectual prowess saw her respected and loved as a leader. Can we build a picture through these Celtic Christians of long ago who have come fleetingly within view? Characteristics did not represent the full person, but highlighted specific godly attributes. Histories could be painted with a broad brush to illuminate key details. We can highlight the godliness and the truth, and see where that takes us:
- Ninian – Missional
- Brigid – Kindness
- Ita – Thirst
- Serf – Teaching
- Kentigern – Preaching
- Columba – Relational
- Aiden – Neighbourliness
- Winifred – Healing
- Hilda – Leadership
- Cuthbert – Praying
This is not just a list of different Celtic saints; we are starting to describe characteristics of Jesus.
Sometimes being missional is simply pioneering – willing to go there first and leave a legacy of God’s love for others to build. When we carry kindness as our heart attitude, then we share God’s goodness. We must have a thirst for the Lord: not taking His love and mercy for granted but still, knowing that He is merciful in His love for us. Like the Celtic Christians, we need to share our knowledge of God by teaching and preaching; by our actions and attitudes as well by as our words. As St Francis of Assis famously didn’t actually say, “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary use words.” But the message is there.
And that message links, through word and deed, to being with others; being relational enables authentic preaching. Quite simply: consider others. In doing so, we demonstrate a neighbourliness to … well, to our neighbours. This does not mean living out of their back pocket (or vice versa). It means being available for them. Sometimes that simple availability helps heal them for we can heal by our words and heart attitude as also by medical skills. We carry Christ’s love wherever we go and whoever we meet.
In focussing on serving others we find that we are effective, decisive, gentle, and noble, inspiring others to follow us as we seek the Lord.
Above all, we need to pray. Constantly.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — (1 Timothy 2:1)
These characteristics are godly and relevant. They are of Celtic Christians and they are for us today. They build a picture of Jesus for us to live by. Not nearly complete, but still it’s a start:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)
[from Timothy Pitt]