Something that captures my attention about Celtic Christians is the simplicity of their faith. I think we have much to learn from Celtic Christianity in our busy lives, with overcomplicated schedules and endless church meetings.
Their joy was not based on achievement or material possessions, but in loving and caring for each other and in being grateful for all that God had created for them and blessed them with. I think we need to rediscover that sense of simplicity, thankfulness and wonder - perhaps by fasting from the things that shackle us or get in the way of our relationship with God. Lent is an excellent time to begin living more simply.
This month I'm reflecting on St Patrick as it's St Patrick's Day 17th March; and King George VI - with all the Oscar success of the The King's Speech. I recently shared with you a favourite poem of King George VI and the Queen Mother.
But what do St Patrick and King George VI have in common?
Answer - they were both reluctant heroes.
King George VI reluctantly became King when his brother, King Edward VIII, chose abdication in preference to abandoning his marriage plans to a divorced woman. The oscar winning The King's Speech depicts George's journey from stammering obscurity to King of Great Britain.
St Patrick was not Irish, neither can he have been particularly keen on Ireland originally, because when he was sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and sold into slavery there! He escaped six years later when God appeared to him in a vision and showed him how to escape. Some years later God sent him back to Ireland as priest and he later became Bishop of Ireland.
Which reminds me of the prophet Jonah who when summoned by God to prophesy the destruction of Nineveh, ran in the other direction! It took Jonah three days of whale captivity for him to change his mind!
Listening to God is a challenging business. I wonder if you've ever wanted to run from the call of God? I know I have! When God called me to become a missionary, I wanted to run away. I was reluctant, because I thought God would send me to India or Africa. Thank goodness God knows our hearts and uses us where we are and where we can most effectively serve him.
In order to follow God's leading, we need God's strength. I love this prayer attributed to St Patrick. Try praying it aloud several times:
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of Sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightening,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
'I can do all things through him who gives me strength.' Philippians 4:13