Everything you wanted to know about Christianity
at the Anglican Parish of the Otways
Please join me each week for our reflections
of sermons conducted during our church service.
Plus, occasional splashes of humour and epiphanies!
With much Love and Blessings
Rev. Jenny Brandon
Initially Aidan was sent as a missionary to Northumbria
at the request of King Oswald, not long after a
missionary called Corman – had returned claiming that
he had had no success in his missionary work, saying
the people were unteachable and too stubborn.
According to Wiki, Aidan of Lindisfarne was credited with
restoring Christianity to Northumbria. He founded a
monastic cathedral on the island of Lindisfarne, known as
Lindisfarne Priory, served as its first bishop, and travelled
ceaselessly throughout the countryside, spreading
the gospel to both the Anglo-Saxon nobility and to the
socially disenfranchised (including children and slaves).
He is known as the Apostle of Northumbria and is
recognised as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox,
the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion
and others. (courtesy Wikipedia)
According to an observation made of Aidan at a conference
held in Iona by King Oswald of Northumbria, he won over
the job from his predecessor, quoted as saying:
“Brother, it seems to me that you were too severe on your ignorant hearers. You should have followed the practice of the Apostles, and begun by giving them the milk of simpler teaching, and gradually nourished them with the word of God until they were capable of greater perfection and able to follow the loftier precepts of Christ.” (St Aidan's Episcopal Church)
It is said that Aidan criticised the methods used by Corman,
suggesting perhaps Corman should have taken
a more gentle approach
and so Aidan went out as a missionary.
He worked closely with King Oswald,
who is said to have acted as his interpreter.
His life of mission involved an enthusiasm for preaching,
a concern for the poor
and he was known for his charitable acts.
He founded churches and monasteries,
was involved in ministerial training
and sought to strengthen the faith of those he encountered,
however rich or poor.
He is described as a humble man who was loved and respected
and he died on 31st August in the year 651 AD.
Attributed to St Aidan are the following occurrences:
it was claimed saved the king's city Bamburgh King Oswald’s
enemy, Penda, attempted to burn it down by piling thatch and
wood around the city walls. Apparently, Bishop Aidan,
was in retreat on his island two miles away from Bamburgh
and seeing the smoke and flames he raised his hands
to the heavens, saying with tears,
‘Lord see what evil Penda does!’
Before any real damage had been done, the wind shifted
and drove the flames and smoke onto those who kindled
them. The attackers had to quickly retreat while the city was saved.
Another story has St. Aidan saving the life of a stag
by making it invisible to the hunters. Even though,
this miracle has also been attributed to St Aidan of Ferns,
The stag is symbolically associated with St Aidan since
the stag often symbolizes solitude, piety, and prayer.
St. Aidan's crest is a torch, a light shining in the darkness,
since 'Aidan' is Gaelic for 'fire'. We may also see
St Aidan portrayed with a tent reminding us of his death.
St Aidan was considered to be a protector against fire.
So this might be significant given we in Apollo Bay are
located rural in potential bushfire territory.
There are many things that we can take away
from the example of St Aidan
that are applicable to our owns lives and ministries,
things I believe can both inspire and challenge us.
‘Aidan travelled ceaselessly….
spreading the gospel to both the Anglo-Saxon nobility
and to the socially disenfranchised’.
To me this idea of spreading the gospel to all in society
is crucial as we strive to be a church
that is inclusive and accessible.
It seems that Aidan models for us a love, care and
desire to spread the gospel to the whole of society –
from the richest to the poorest –
that no one is excluded.
‘Aidan patiently talked to people at their own level’.
The idea of talking at the right level
doesn’t mean being patronising or dumbing things down,
it means meeting people as they are,
discerning their needs,
being patient with people and showing no judgement.
This is how Jesus spoke to many.No one was excluded
and people were spoken to with love, respect and care.
We must make sure we are there if people need us,
that our backs are not turned
and that we haven’t closed a door and walked away.
Lastly we must look at Aidan’s charity
and dedication to the less fortunate.
Aidan gave his time, his respect
and perhaps most importantly his love
to those on the margins of society
and we are ALL called first and foremost to love.
It’s easy to see that St Aidan modelled his life on Jesus.
Jesus also demonstrated these qualities
and again and again in the Gospel accounts
we see Jesus touching the untouchable,
giving hope to the hopeless and seeking out the lost.
In our context – in this town of Apollo Bay –
we are called to bear witness to the Gospel message –
to the love, care and compassion of Jesus Christ,
who reached out to the margins of society.
As we reflect on St Aidan’s life the challenge for us is to
mirror those qualities in our own lives,
both personally and corporately.
About the author
Rev. Jenny is an ordained Priest of the Anglican Diocese delivering services at Anglican Parish of the Otway churches every week.
With great depth of knowledge and a spiritual practice that shows she walks her talk and has taken her to the far reaches of N.T. Australia working with indigenous youth and elders.