Spiritual Vikings

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Traigh Ban nam Manach (White Strand of the Monks), Iona Island

Shalom, my Sisters and Brothers!

This photo is of one of my favourite beaches on Iona – Traigh Ban nam Manach – the White Strand of the Monks). It’s at the far north of the island, so it’s quiet and peaceful. The sand is like talcum powder, and the water is usually crystal clear.

But these sands and waters hide a brutal past. It was here that a number of monks were slaughtered by Viking raiders on Christmas day in the year 986.

Every time I’ve been to this beach, I’ve thought about this – how terrifying it must have been for the monks seeing the Viking ships cut across the water, knowing that this was their last day on earth.

For some reason, this beach popped into my head this morning during my prayers. But the mental image I had was of us as the Vikings – Warriors, moving in the ship of the Church, under the protection of our heavenly Abba, guided by our King Jesus, and blown along by the wind of the Spirit!

I’ve said this before, and I will keep on saying it. We, as the Church, aren’t called to sit comfortably in a Sunday service every week. We’re called to be Warriors! Just as the Vikings left the comforts of their homes and countries in order to go on raids, so must we be willing to leave our comforts in order to attack Satan and his forces of darkness!

Just as the monks on Iona were terrified at the sight of the Viking ship, so too should the demons tremble at the sight of the ship of the Church! When they see this mighty ship slicing through the waters of life, they should be petrified, because they know that within that ship are brave, fearless Warriors who are filled with the Spirit! Warriors who are on a Divine mission to fight for King and kingdom!

This was the same spirit that moved men like Columba and Patrick to take to the open waters, and enter foreign hostile lands in order to spread the Gospel.

And now is the time that we regain that spirit! For too long the Church has been sitting lazily by while the forces of darkness have advanced over this earth. But I believe God is sounding the trumpet, and calling for His Church to wake up! I believe that mighty prayer warriors are being raised up, who will step up to the battle lines and shoot their prayers like fire to heaven!

Now is the time for Satan and his demons to tremble, for the Warriors of God are preparing for battle!

May the God of heaven and earth empower you to put on the full armour of God, and may His Spirit fill you so that you may stand firm against the enemy! Amen.

The Sacred Coffee Mug

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My Sisters and Brothers,

One of the things that drew me to the Celtic way of living my faith was the fact that this is precisely what it is about – Living!

In the western church, there seems to be a distinction and separation between the sacred and the ordinary. But this is a distinction that the ancient Celts couldn’t see or understand. For them, their spirituality infused every aspect of their lives… whether it was mucking out the barn, or cleaning the house, or tilling the field… or even something as simple as drinking a cup of coffee (they probably didn’t have coffee, but I’m putting it into modern terms!)

For the ancient Celts, blessings permeated everything that they did. There were blessings for waking up, blessings for going to sleep, blessings for washing, blessings for eating, blessings for walking, blessings for resting. In fact, there was pretty much a blessing for everything.

The thread of the Sacred was woven into the fabric of every aspect of their lives!

God wasn’t some distant deity who had to be worshipped in a specific building. To the ancient Celts, He was closer than their own breath, more real than physical reality! His presence could be seen in everything, and everything existed within Him!

In his book, Listening For the Heartbeat of God, J. Philip Newell writes the following:

“The Christ who is above them in the brightness of the morning sun is the Christ who is beneath them in the dark fertility of the earth. … The Christ who is within, at the very centre of their soul, is the Christ who is to be looked for in friend and stranger, Christ at the heart of all life.”

Christ is, after all, God made flesh. When He came to earth, He sanctified the ordinary things of life. By becoming human, He made sacred all the commonplace things that we do – eating, drinking, socialising, working.

But for some reason, the western church lost this permeation of the sacred through all of life. The sacred became something that priests did at an altar, following carefully prescribed rules & rituals. And the separation between the sacred & the ordinary acts of life became bigger and bigger.

This is why so many young people travel to places like India. Over there, they still see what the ancient Celts saw. Everywhere you go, there are shrines and temples, incense and chanting. The air itself seems to pulse with spirituality.

And this, I think, is what we need to get back here in the west. Like our ancient Celtic Sisters and Brothers, let us learn to look at life – ALL of life – through the eyes of the spirit. When you wake up in the morning, and make your mug of coffee, say a blessing before you drink it. This isn’t just a mug of coffee… this is a SACRED mug of coffee! God breathed His breath into the soil from which the beans came forth. He breathed His breath into the beans themselves… and the rivers, streams, or lakes where the water came from. His breath is in the clay of your mug, the metal of your spoon, the milk and sugar!

His breath is everywhere! His heart beats in the soil beneath our feet, and His voice whispers in the wind! His hands are constantly caressing us, and the earth, holding all of Creation together!

May our God, the Creator of everything seen and unseen, open your eyes to the sacredness of the ordinary. And may your lips utter blessings, and your heart sing songs, from the moment of waking to the moment of sleep… and even within sleep, may your soul be ever in His presence! Amen.

An In-between Time

Sisters and Brothers,

Today is Ascension Day, when we celebrate and remember Jesus ascending into heaven, with the promise that He will return again!

This is a time of great joy, as we know that our King is now seated on His rightful throne! But it also begins a time of waiting. Before He left, Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Father sent the Holy Spirit… which happened ten days later on Pentecost.

Personally, I don’t believe that during this time, the disciples sat around doing nothing. I think it was a time of preparation – a time of deep prayer and study of the Scriptures so that their hearts would be ready for the coming of the Spirit.

And this is what we should be doing in this “waiting” period between Ascension and Pentecost. We should set this time apart as a time to pray, a time to raise our hearts to God, and a time to prepare for the Holy Spirit to move!

Pentecost is only ten days away! Let us be prepared for the Spirit to move mightily in and through us!

May the God of heaven and earth open your heart to the movement of His Spirit, and may His Grace be upon you as you prepare your Soul for the mighty outpouring of Pentecost!

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Amen.

The Real Celts

My Sisters and Brothers,

Over this past decade, there has been a massive resurgence in everything Celtic. There have never been so many books written on the subject. And there have never been so many people identifying with the spirit of our Celtic ancestors.

But, as with many things in our modern culture, something has happened in this resurgence. That ancient spirit that swept across these British Isles like a wildfire, seems to have been watered down. Tamed. And a lot of new age ideas have crept into the modern practice of this ancient belief.

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St Columba’s Bay, Iona

Just a few days ago, I was sitting on the pebble shore of St Columba’s Bay at the south end of the small island of Iona, thinking about this very thing.

This was the spot where St Columba and his twelve companions landed in the year 563, having travelled from Ireland in handmade coracles. There was nothing tame about their journey, which was left to the mercy of the wind and the waves! And there was nothing tame about their landing on Iona. At that time, Iona was known as Innis nan Druinich – the Island of the Druids. And if the ancient Roman accounts are true, these druids weren’t peaceful priests dancing in forest groves. They practiced human sacrifice and cannibalism! But the old stories tell us that St Columba and his handful of disciples, fought off these druidic priests, not with physical swords, but with the power of God! And from that moment, these spiritual warriors went into all of Scotland, fighting against the forces of darkness in order to bring in the Light of Christ!

This side of Celtic Christianity has sadly been lost in the modern interpretation. We read about “nice” things – their love for nature, their soul friendships, their blessings and songs. Don’t get me wrong, all these things are part of Celtic Christianity, and I plan to write about them in later posts. But behind all that was a people who weren’t afraid of battle!

Whenever the Celtic saints went into the “desert”, it wasn’t to retire from the world. It was to fight for the world – to advance the Kingdom of God!

The spiritual realm was as real to them as this physical realm was, and they had a very deep understanding that there was a battle raging all around them… as it rages around us today! But they – and us! – have been called to rise up as mighty prayer warriors, and send the enemy fleeing! Each and every one of us has been called to be a warrior for Christ, clothed in the armour of God, fighting for King and Kingdom!

So as we explore this rich heritage of ours, let us never forget this part. Let us follow in the footsteps of Columba and his disciples, and all the other Celtic saints. And let us wage war in the spiritual realm, never retreating! Always advancing!

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

 

 

Dia Dhaoibh!

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Celtic cross on the Isle of Iona

My Sisters and Brothers, Dia dhaoibh!

Dia dhaoibh is a traditional Gaelic greeting, which literally means “God to you!”

And this is the greeting I want to send to you in this first post – God to you! May the God of heaven and earth fill you and be with you as you read these words, and become a part of this community of souls in the mist!

My prayer is that this is exactly what this blog will eventually be – not just one person writing words… but a community of like-minded and like-souled pilgrims walking this road of life together!

I envision a community of warriors rising up, encircling their lands with prayer, and battling the forces of darkness as the ancient Celtic saints did!

I see a community going out with Love before them, healing this broken world in the Name of Jesus Christ, our King!

If this resonates with you, please come in! Join us in this mission! Raise your hands and hearts to heaven, as our Celtic Sisters and Brothers did so long ago!

May God the Father bless you with abundant blessings! May the Son fill you with His Light! And may the Spirit empower you to spread that Light into all the world! Amen.

Your Brother and Soul Friend,

Craig