Celtic Christianity, God and the environment

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‘God is Green’ was recently aired on Channel 4. Presenter Mark Dowd put forward the premise that maybe the answer to our problems with the environment lay in the hands of the 4.5 billion followers of the main world faiths, that is Christianity, Islam and Sikhism.

I felt rather inspired by the Bishop of London and it inspired me to think quite deeply about God and the environment.

In this post I'd like to ask you your views on whether you think there a convergence of both the physical and spiritual ecological Christianity, particualry embodied in the growing popularity of the celtic christian tradition?

There has been a resurgence of all things Celtic since the early 1980’s, none more so than that of Celtic Christianity.

This, I believe is an awakening call to the Christian in the street, to an environmental ethic and through this a recognition of the problems that our own planet faces.

The Celtic Church had a deep connection to the world around it. As farmers and labourers they would’ve understood the seasons, how to work the land which they tended and cared for. They could see the goodness of the creator in his creation; some early writings show a deep and vibrant love of the environment, an understanding of God at work in their surroundings and in their everyday life.

So taking those principles from Celtic Christianity how can we apply then to the twenty first century?

We need to start in our own neighbourhood and extend outwards to the wider world at home and abroad.

As a congregation, as part of the body of Christ we need to accept responsibility for our environment, that is too say God creation. If we can do this we are more than likely to put renewed effort into caring and tending for our local surroundings

We can start in small ways, for example by revising shopping habits, recycling glass, paper and plastics, the use of cars, and management of the our locality and the countryside; and then seeking to increase awareness of the many environmental problems that urgently need attention throughout the world.

Alongside this must run a spiritual element, a way to reconnect with those elements of our faith which teach and practice ways of thinking and acting that recognize our inherent connections with the natural world?

The historian Leslie Hardinge writes: “By far the most influential book in the development of the Celtic church was the Bible. It moulded their theology and guided the worship of the early Christians. It suggested rules of conduct and transformed the ancient laws of Irish and Welsh pagans into Christian statutes.”

Celtic Christianity is Trinitarian and open to the experience of Christ and to his miracles.

Its theology and liturgy are biblically based which leads to a prayerfully reflective part of the Body of Christ with a deep creation affirming spirituality; especially in their prayers, creativity and their attitude to their environment.

Another element that has drawn many people to the Celtic Christian World is its holistic approach to worship, seeing all of life as worship and God’s presence seeping it every corner of our lives and our world.

Some see Celtic Christianity as a fad (one I add that has been popular for the last 30 years) or as a romantic view of a different time but I believe God is using this to bring people back to his creation (and if it is a little romantic…well so what!), to encourage us to tend and care for the world around before it’s too late.

Resources:

David Adam has written many books, I would certainly start off with ‘The Rhythm of Life’ as a guide into Celtic Liturgy.

Aiden, Bede and Cuthbert: Three Inspirational Saints for an understanding of who and what the Celtic Fathers were.

Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Community

Celtic way of Prayer by Esther De Waal

Christian Ecology Link

Ebb and Flow – my new Christian ecology blog

Marc Alton-Cooper