Well last Sunday, 15 April, was the original date for Easter across these Islands. It was the date the Celtic Christians who pioneered mission to Britain celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus. Following a dispute with Roman inspired Christianity, a Synod at Whitby backed the Roman way of computing Easter to the that of the Celts, and the rest, as they say, is history. Those early years of pioneering Celtic missional monks ensured the British Islands received the gospel and paganism was replaced with a vibrant outgoing Christian witness. From Kings to paupers, women and men flooded of the gospel call and established a Christian practice that spread far beyond personal sanctity, influencing the arts, culture, politics and social structure. It was truly an outpouring of the spirit of God.
This year The Contemplative Network (Like on Facebook!) organised a Celtic celebration at sundown on the top of Chanctonbury Ring in West Sussex. A high point in the Downs and possible previously a Druid and then Roman Temple site, about forty disciples gathered to pilgrimage around the ring and break bread together in the name of the Triune God. We walked around the circle, pausing at each of the compass points. Looking East we contemplated the source of light and life, Jesus, and the journey of sacrifice he had made on behalf of all of humanity. Walking to the Northern edge of the Circle, we paused and sang St Patrick’s great hymn of steadfast faith, ‘Be Thou My Vision‘, recalling the responsibility of carrying this great gospel message from the Southern Coastlands to the furthest corners of these Islands entrusted to the care of God’s Church. Moving on we looked West, recalling and observing a most wonderful sunset, and reminding ourselves as the fire in the fire pit was lit of the value and privilege of ending the day in our homes. Karen Lowe of Antioch Church, Llanelli, led us as we contemplated the image of fire and home, the hearthside, with the reminder that although pilgrims on this earth, yet our home is always with God. Again looking West to ward the sinking of the sun, the reminder that we are invited eventually to step from this mortal life and enjoy a banquet in our heavenly home. We then walked to the Southern Point and quietly prepared our hearts as a psalm was read aloud before proceeding to the centre of the circle where Friar Micha led a communion meal reminding today’s pilgrims of the journey taken by two disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus and the stranger who fell into step alongside them. Just as the stranger’s identity was eventually revealed in the breaking of the bread, the gathering were invited to discover God in the bread and the wine. Individuals prayed for each other before the evening continued with a splendid babrbeque.
A wonderful experience though this was, it reminded us of our primary calling. This is to recognise our responsibility to encounter Christ, enrich cultures and work for the emancipation of the oppressed. Our prayers are constantly directed toward a fresh outpouring of God’s spirit, that through contemplative action these islands once again may celebrate the grace gift of salvation and we might see spiritual and social transformation. We remind ourselves that filled with the life and love of God, we are able to love neighbour as self and embrace God’s mission to transform our neighbourhoods through healing mission. I am grateful that this idea for Celtic Easter was initiated by Greg Valerio, my friend and co-worker in facilitating the Contemplative network. He has organised these events previously at Whitby and Stonehenge. next year for any interested we shall head for Glastonbury Tor. The challenge as ever is to descend from the mountain and engage once more in mission. We have returned from our communion walk to resume our walk of grace in sharing the one of God with all.