One of our priorities while we were on holiday was to visit The Holy Island of Lindisfarne... and I am so glad we did. It is truly a beautiful island and a received a sense of the place I was reading about in Flame in my Heart... St Aidan for today by David Adam. I got the gist of the place St Aidan requested from King Oswald to be his Holy Isle in 635AD.
St Aidan's statue in the foreground of the Priory remains is beautiful with the Castle in the background.
Thing is... what struck me more was the legacy that St Aidan has left behind. Lindisfarne is where Christianity developed into the North of England and his approach... the Celtic approach to Christianity... has left a profound mark on me... because it is, in some way, an expression that I can, and do, connect deeply with.
Over the next for days... maybe even weeks... I'm going to quote from David Adam's book... and demonstrate why I feel this connection. I look forward to your comments and constructive discussion... and hope we can all take something from this.
I'll kick off with this...
Too often, mission has wanted to change people into the image of the missionary. Too often, whole races and peoples have lost richness of their culture in the name of Christian mission. The later blossoming of the Hiberno-English culture in the Golden Age of Northumbria was proof of what was waiting to be discovered. Too often, in the name of Christ we have forced people to accept what we want rather than to listen to them. If we are truly to lead a person to Christ we must accept them as they are, and walk for a while in their shoes. The very image of our God is that He came down where we are, into our situation.../David Adam :: p19&20
We must accept people as they are. They are not trophies to be gained or numbers to be added to our lists. Each person has an individual experience and that can enrich ours as much as we can enrich theirs. It is too easy to deplore what we do not like, or to demand that they conform to the image that we want. This is far from the glorious liberty of the Children of God. The very diversity of peoples and nations is what enriches and adds colour to our world.
I believe in the power of testimony... ours is to speak of the Gospel in a manner that is both relevant to people and in context with their situation. The Gospel is for everyone... but not everyone connects with being told. In my own experience, I relate to examples... to case studies... Theory has to have been put into practice for me to understand. The application of the Gospel in the demonstration of a changed life is a powerful example.
In addition, the people I come into contact with... my friends and colleagues... have their stories... their experiences that shape them. I try to meet them where they are... I share with them in everything... as best I can. I am enriched by them... as much as, I hope, they are enriched by being with me. I do not seek to change them to look like me.
OMGoodness... what would the world look like if we all shaved our heads... pretended we had beards... wore jeans that are too big for them... and thrift store Pringle jumpers (golfers are generous in Berwick-upon-Tweed!)... and rare trainers (rare because nobody else wants them!) What a scary thought!
Reminds me of the song from Pocahontas... My we'ans have a reggae CD of Disney songs... and JC Lodge was just singing the song "Colors of the wind":
You think the only people who are peopleI want to learn from others. I do not expect others to give up their otherness... and become like me. I am an original creation... just as everyone is. We are all unique... and the sooner we stop and realise this... the better.
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew.
Let's stop speaking... and start listening! and in doing so maybe more of us will experience the glorious liberty that comes from knowing Christ.