As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Monday 20 July 2020
By Fred Coutts
BC and AD
St Adamnan was the 9th Abbot of Iona at the end of the 7th Century. His main claim to fame and the reason we know is name, is the book he wrote, celebrating the life of St Columba. Adamnan did not confine himself to the walls of the Abbey, but was a great traveller. We know that he even visited King Aldfrith, King of Northumberland in 701. It also looks as if he may have visited our part of Scotland, or at least some of the monks from Iona did. The ruins of a 15th Century chapel standing by the roadside among some trees near the farm of Knapsleask is dedicated to Adamnan. So was the church at the village of Forvie which was buried in sand and abandoned in August 1413.
Local tradition says that the ruins of the chapel at Knapsleask stand on the site of a much older church, perhaps even going back to the time of Adaman himself.
Adamnan lived at a time of change in the church in Scotland. The ways of the old Celtic church which Columba had founded were being questioned. Different ways, following the Roman tradition had taken root in England and a great meeting was held at Whitby in 664 to decide if the church in Northumbria would continue to follow the Celtic ways of Iona or follow the Roman practices which had been brought by Augustin to Canterbury. The southern ways, at least in Northumbria won out.
Scotland held to the old Celtic ways, at least for the moment. The main differences under dispute may seem somewhat unimportant to us, but they divided the church: the date for calculating Easter, and the style of tonsure in which monks should cut their hair. The real central issue was about being part of a church with connections all over Europe, looking to Rome as its centre, or the old Celtic church with its base in Iona and Ireland.
Adamnan found himself drawn to the new Roman church practices, and he fell out of favour with his own community on Iona, leaving the island for some time. In the end there was a reconciliation and Adaman returned to Iona shortly before his death.
It would be many years before these issues were finally resolved in Scotland. It was Queen Margaret in the 11th Century who restored and revived a divided church and ensured that the church in Scotland would follow the Roman Catholic way.
Adamnan struggled to know what God wanted him to do in a time when the church in Scotland was changing. Part of him wanted to hold on to the old ways he had learned while growing up in Ireland, the ways he had studied in the monasteries in his homeland and on Iona. But he saw that some in the church wanted to follow different paths. He would have pondered deeply on these matters, prayed much and looked for a sign. The decision he took was uncomfortable for him, for it brought him into conflict with his own community, but he knew that this was the way that God was leading him.
Jesus laid out a new way for the people who gathered round him to hear what we call the Sermon on the Mount. “You know what the old ways were,” he said, “and that was what God wanted your ancestors to do then. But God has a new way for you now, a better way.” The new way was about going further than God had asked before. It involved not just loving your neighbour, but your enemies too.
Adamnan was living in the in between time, when everything was changing. We are living in an in between time for the church. We look back to BC (Before Covid) and in our hearts know that it was not working for the church in 21st century Scotland. The Church of Scotland was already looking at radical action. All the discussions and decisions about the future from then have been put on hold. We have lived through our period of lockdown when everything changed for Cruden Parish Church, as it did for every congregation. Now as we carefully move out of lockdown, we need to seek God’s guidance about what is the new way he wants us to follow in AD (Anno Domini, the year of the Lord).
Those who worshipped in St Adamnan’s Chapel at Knapsleask in the 15th Century moved on as the church in their day changed too. All that is left of their church is a few broken down walls and a space where there once was a great window. But the faith continued, and new ways emerged.
Pray hard, dream dreams, and look for signs for what our new church will be like in Cruden in Anno Domini.
Matthew 5: 38-48
‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
God of the seasons,
God of the years,
God of the ages,
Alpha and Omega,
before us and after us.
You promise and we wait:
we wait with eager longing,
we wait amid doubt and anxiety,
we wait with patience growing thin
and then doubt,
forgive us when we take life into our own hands.
We wait because you are the one and the only one.
We wait for your peace and your mercy,
for your justice and your good rule,
for you guidance when we struggle in darkness and confusion.
Give us your spirit that we may wait
with obedience as we try to discern your will,
with love in our hearts was we try to care for those in need,
with honesty as we acknowledge our failings
with trust when inside we are in turmoil.
We wait in hope, knowing that you will give us a sign.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Bless us, then today as we try to live in your way.
Give us the blessing of
a faithful spirit
a willing heart,
and love beyond our imagining.