A full circle back to Celtic Spirituality

Celtic jouney

I was an Associate minister in Vandalia Ohio U.S.A and before this went to Bible College at Cliff College in England. The reason I mention this, is because of the subject of my present interest, but realized it has been an interest for a good number of years. The end of the Crossway Message I gave gives 10 principles for a way of life. I have been revisiting Ray Sipmson and his work wonderful, and find it excellent.

The following is a message I gave at a worship service when I was the Associate Minister. Before this I did a Project for my MA at United Theological Seminary called The Celtic Journey, a video on the subject of Celtic Spirituality. Prior to this an article I wrote at Cliff College, why do I mention all of this? The quickening of the Holy Spirit for me to come back to this subject, and discover one of my loves, the Celtic Way of Life. To actually live what I speak, and have interest in, and have been looking to joint the Community of Aidan and Hilda.

Celtic Crossway 22nd May 2004   This was a contemporary worship service I played a part in forming.

The church for years has had to re-evaluate itself to see if it is reaching the needs of the people and being an influence for good for God. We are always coming to a crossroads in our lives, where we have to make decisions. It can be a frightening, making these choices, like the experience driving on a dark highway or walk a treacherous pathway on a dark night when there is no light, we need to have fellowship with one another, in the word because the Lords word, “His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” Psalm 119: 105. “You have made known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence.” Acts 2:28b. The longer and farther we travel in the light of God’s word, the brighter grows the path. How important, it is to keep in His word and to live His word. For this is our one light in this dark place.

A passion for God and his way will result in a passion for the further establishment of God’s church. God is a firm foundation, and Jesus is the key, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There is also one sure thing, change, change is here to stay. It is how we view change the church has had to adapt, so as to be that influence of good change. A time of trial forces a decision to be made and our response, like facing a fork in the road, determines which road we take. One road leads to despair and bitterness. The other road leads to hope and developing Christ-like character.

“You make known to me the paths of life” God has made known to you and me the way to walk, and come to that place of relationship with Him through Christ.

 We the believers profess to know God and the power of the Holy Spirit, so we need to enter into these spiritual aspects of God. The problem is that there seems to be a reluctance to make time and spend time to truly find God. And I’m one of the biggest offenders, busy at everything other than knowing God, not knowing about God, but knowing God.

We need to be open to the will of God and have ears to hear as we spend time in the presence of God. Isaiah says, “The Lord God has given me his word of wisdom so that I may know what I should say to all these weary ones. Morning to morning he wakens me and opens up my understanding to his will.”[1] (Isaiah 54:4).

There is a following of Celtic spirituality that is not Christian, going back to the pagan roots before it was Christianized or redeemed. Which has a strong tie to the New Age movement and the Celts are open to and have an understanding of the supernatural and magic realm, and the spirit realm, sometimes more so than the church of today. Not all churches have lost the dynamic supernatural power, but some circles and could learn something from the New Age movement dare I say it.

The largest problem is that they are being lead by the wrong spirit that is deceiving and keeping people who are genuinely seeking for truth. “The New Age teachings and practices are not simply the enlightened discoveries of men, but more precisely the deliberately revealed teachings of the spirits that men have adopted and utilized. They merely appear to be enlightened teachings because the spirits use psychological principles and spiritual language; they speak of God and Love; and they satisfy many of the genuine desires of fallen men.” [2] “The Bible is clear on this point; there are teachings given to man by deceitful spirits and they both influence church and society.”[3]

The Celts before Christian Influence.

The Celts were a people speaking Celtic language that once covered much of Europe.

They were at one time called “the fathers of Europe. They spread as far a field as southern Italy, Denmark, and modern Turkey – the Galatians may well have spoken a Celtic language when Paul wrote to them around 54AD.”[4] The Celts were a warrior culture but also a very religious people, and saw all of life touched by the divine.[5] There was a strong Celtic church in Britain but did not really call themselves a church but were called Celtic kingdoms[6] and the people didn’t call themselves Celts this derived from Keltio the Greek and the Romans called them Galli and can be traced across Europe[7]

They seamed to have a close affinity with nature and animals; they are not worshiped but had a close link with their gods.

“The Celts placed a high value in cleanliness and personal adornment, but couldn’t care less about houses. Celts believed passionately in an after life.”[8] “ There was no aspect of life which was not in some way touched by the intricate web of ritual and belief that gave life and meaning to the Celtic world.”[9]

The Druids were the priests of the Celtic people, but this though has no evidence to back it up. “The classical text never refers to them as priests, but as philosophers.”[10] We have the understanding that they did preside at ceremonies, but were there as teachers because they were looked upon as mature and of having wisdom, which involved decision making, directing and imparting of knowledge.

The Celtic people had such an assurance of getting to a land of the ever young, and would enjoy everything that was dear to them on this earthly life: fighting, feasting and song. So complete was this faith that their enemies marveled at how careless of death they were.

The ritualistic life was important to the people and what the gods required, the right performance of the ritual for the tribe. On ritual occasions the priests would bring out some magic objects, like a cauldron, weapons or musical instruments and was to be honored by the people.[11] There was places that were thought upon as more sacred like a shrine, for example, “like a tree or grove, oak, hazel and yew were particularly sacred and a spring or pool.” [12] The Celts looked at nature as having a significant part to play in their spirituality and meant that, “for the Celts, god or transcendent, did not speak to the human community outside and beyond its natural environment. Rather, god spoke to humanity precisely within the natural world.”[13]

 Celtic –The Christian Influence.

Before the arrival of the Christian influence of Augustine their where others such as St Patrick, Columba, Aiden, David, they had been spreading the Christian message. After the Saxons were converted by St Augustine, in AD 597, there was a return wave of Celtic Christianity from Ireland to Iona and from Iona to Lindesfarne.”[14] The opinion of an author Clive Prince says that the “early evangelists – like Patrick, who reached the Irish, Columba who evangelized the Scots, Aiden the apostle to the English, and David who preached to the Welsh – found a prime audience. As a result the spread of Christianity was relatively easy.”[15]

The Celts had a spirituality all of their own and this was welcomed into every area of their lives. “They invited the touch of the spirit on everything they did, whether they were making a fire in the grate or a meal in the kitchen”[16]

God is into redeeming things and sees the hearts of the people and like a “new spiritual tide, Christianity swept away that oppression. But some of the old beliefs actually found fresh expression and fulfillment in the glory of the gospel.

For instance, the number three was significant – so the trinity was especially important to a regenerate Celt. The endless knot as seen in much of their art work came to represent eternal life in Christ.”[17]

What has it got to offer us today? This new spiritual dimension is being recognized and is being sought after in the church today.

George MacLeods a leading figure in the Scottish Church, he was a man that conceived and accomplished the rebuilding of Iona and established it as a great place of mission.[18] “His whole way of life was inspired by the example of the Celtic saints. Long before it became fashionable he was environmentally conscious, like the Celts he saw that Christ as the center of the whole created order, the Lord of science and matter as well as of human souls”[19] “He also stressed to the importance of finding God in the here and now and in the everyday things of life.”[20] Iona is now a place of pilgrimage for thousands of people a recreation of the dream of St. Columba of a community he had started. From out of this rebuilding, it is forming a following of people from all over the world bound together by the discipline of prayer, sharing resources and following a simple lifestyle.[21] “George MacLeod believed not so much that the mission was to bring the gospel to every creature, as that the mission was to bring all mortals to the awareness of the love and purpose of God already present in creation, already breaking through.”[22] The example that people see in the Celts of the past, as an example to live by is their love and care for nature and responsibility for the environment and allowing creativity, felt as believed that was the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Also there is a sense of community among the people as a family. The growing interest in Celtic Christianity has developed from a search for relevance and reality. Out of a desire to live a whole hearted life given over to Jesus Christ. Finding that they are able to draw inspiration from the examples the Celtic saints had given.

This is a list of ways people have been able to draw insight and meaning towards their spiritual life.

“ 1.) Study and application of the Celtic Christian way-daily Bible reading and the study of the history of the saints.

2.) Spiritual journey-sharing in regular retreats and pilgrimage and meeting with a soul friend who can give guidance on the way.

3.) Daily rhythm of prayer, work and rest-a renewal of praying. Welcoming work as a gift from God, and regarding rest as a holy and creative.

4.) Intercessory prayer-affirming a worldview that recognizes the reality of the supernatural and of spiritual warfare.

5.) Simplicity of lifestyle-wanting to live simply that others may have a simple life.

6.) Care for and affirmation of creation-affirming God, creation as essentially good, but spoilt by the effects of human sin and satanic evil.

7.) Wholeness, not fragmentation encouraging the ministry of Christian healing and the laying on of hands.

8.) Openness to the wind of the Spirit-allowing God to take us as the Holy Spirit wills.

9.) Unity and community-looking upon fellow Christians not as strangers but pilgrims together.

10.) Mission-evangelizing not simply out of senses of duty, but because the Spirit is giving us a heart for the lost and also speaking out for the poor, the powerless and those unjustly treated in our society.”[23]

[1] Isaiah 54:4.

[2] Ankerberg J, Weldon J, p18.

[3] Ankerberg J, Weldon J, p19,

[4] Prince Clive, p13.

[5] Price Clive, p13.

[6] Sampson F, p1.

[7] Sampson F, p5.

[8] Sampson F, p9.

[9] Davies O, Bowie F, p5.

[10] Druids from internet (http://www.hvhm.com/obod/druids.html)

[11] Sampson F, p9.

[12] Sampson F, p9.

[13] Davies O, Bowie F, p6.

[14] Allen R.J, Celtic Art (London, England: Studio Edition Ltd, 1993.)p163.

[15] Price Clive, p13.

[16] Price Clive, p13.

[17] Price Clive, p13.

[18] Bradley I, p106.

[19] Bradley I, The Celtic Way (London, U. K: University Press Cambridge,1993.) P 106.

[20] Bradley I, p107.

[21] Bradley I, p108.

[22] Bradley I, p108.

[23] Price Clive, Quoted from Exploring Celtic Spirituality By Ray Simpson.

Bibliograhhy

Mc Adams J.D, Druids (internet, http://www.djmcadam.com/druids.htm)p2

Allen R.J, Celtic Art (London, England: Studio Edition Ltd, 1993.)

Ankerberg J, Weldom J, The Facts On The New Age Movement (Oregon, U.S.A, Harvest House Publishing 1988.)

Bradley I, The Celtic Way (London, U. K: University Press Cambridge, 1993.)

Prince Clive, Cool To Be Celtic ( Renewal Magazine, April 1999.)

Davies O, Bowie F, Celtic Christian Spirituality (Wiltshire, England: Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1995.)

Jeffery P, Christian Hand Book (Bath, England: Evangelical Press Of Wales, 1988.)

Sampson F, Vision And Voyage (Kings Lynne, Great Britain, Triangle Books, 1998)

My website link on Celtic Christianity ( work in progress)

My first link: http://sunriseofcross.yolasite.com.yolasite.com/celtic-spirituality-one.php

My second research findings.
http://sunriseofcross.yolasite.com.yolasite.com/celtic-pilgrimage-and-pilgrimages.php

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