From the spiritual high of being filled with the Holy Spirit, Thursday sees the Celtic Christian turning towards thoughts of the community. In the Celtic Christian world every ‘church’ was monastic. So when talking about the Celtic church it is synonymous with the monastery, with people living in Community. It wasn’t simply a matter of just declaring truths but living out the gospel in community. They would have identified with Elisabeth Goudge in her paraphrasing of Francis of Assissi; ‘Francis went everywhere preaching the gospel and sometimes he used words.’ (Preach the gospel, if necessary, use words).
There is an emphasis within this Celtic notion of community on the Trinity. It’s always good to remind ourselves as Christians, that Community began in the heart of God. That the self sufficient God who is love, is Community within Himself. And that all Community flows from this.
Today, many of us live lives separated from the kind of community that once characterised the ancient world. We live in isolated apartments or houses, interacting with our neighbours on only rare occasions. Health clubs and coffee houses offer places to meet, but then we disperse and go back to our dwellings.
The Celts’ practice of their faith was so integrated and wholistic. This was expressed through hospitality, mission, art, connection to the earth, women and men serving together, silence and community were all woven together as a seamless garment. Their unified faith that spread into every aspect of life can be a tremendous model for us as we seek to live in relationship with God in our fragmented culture.
This is what we find in 1 Peter 4:8-11 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
God in deepening relationships, God in continuing conversation: may we welcome each other with courage, knowing that being together changes who we are. We pray that through respectful relationships we transform the imbalances of power to allow each one of us to fully belong. And may it be that inholding silence and in listening well to each other, we hear your voice in the midst of us. Amen.