the celtic way...

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I picked my first book that gave me a taste of an ‘emerging future’ back in 1999. Robert Webbers ancient-future faith was a curious anomaly for me as I felt very much trapped between my love for the modern church and my love for the traditional church in which I had been raised.

My love of ancient-future worship has led me down some interesting paths in the last eight years; Catholic, Anglican, Baptist and Orthodox, these traditions have enriched my understanding of worship and of Jesus and God, but the one I come back to over and over again is Celtic Christianity.

My heart seems to lie in the simple yet beautiful rhythm of the Celtic past.

I arise today, through the strength of heaven: Light of the sun, radiance of the moon. Splendour of fire, speed of lightning, Swiftness of wind, depth of sea, Stability of earth and firmness of rock. I arise today, Through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me. From the snares of devils, from temptation of vices, From everyone who shall wish me ill, Afar and near, alone and in a multitude (St Patrick)

This extract from St Patrick’s Breastplate speaks to me in ways that modern worship simply does not, that doesn’t make it better it just makes it different.

It touches the world around me recognising Gods glory in His creation, reminding me of The protector, guardian of my soul. The Celts read 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that said “Pray without ceasing” and set out to do just that. Their prayer was down to earth and practical, it was part of everyday life, they would pray when they were doing the most mundane of task bringing Christ into the smallest parts of their lives which they quite rightly believed he was interested in.

I think we can draw on their experience.

1.Celtic Christianity was culturally sensitive with a respect for the beliefs of others. They lived alongside people, modelling and living what they taught, bringing the bible alive.

2.Celtic Christianity relied on the power of the Holy Spirit. As time went on many Celtic churchmen replaced the Druids as counsellors to kings and there are many stories about the humble way they went about their tasks, often refusing gifts and comfort offered by their patrons living a reliance on the Holy Spirit.

3.Celtic Christianity was community, it was based around the family and the tribe, they were organised in local communities. Their bishops were travelling preachers under the guidance of the leaders of the communities. These communities were schools, prayer houses, hospitals, hostels, social action centres and craft centres all rolled into one, providing security as communities within a community in a time of social instability

4.Celtic Christians were a passionate group of believers and loved life. The Celtic Christians shared their faith and their lives out of the joyful abandonment to a life lived to the full in relationship with Jesus. This is reflected in the love of nature; love of their fellow man and in their prayers

Resources: Marc is currently working on a website resource on celtic christianity so please feel free to ask him more in the comments...