A Celtic Christian Worldview (13)
But when human beings, for whom they [the sun and the moon] shone brightly from the first, joined together in service, were cast out because of the sin and lost the blessedness of paradise, the heavenly lights also suffered the decrease of their light not without grief on their part even though they were not at fault, as the apostle Paul argues saying: because all creation groans together and mourns even till now. But because the restoration of their former blessedness for the better is promised to the human race through the coming of a Redeemer, there is no doubt creation too will receive [back] its ancient glory.
- The Book of the Order of Creatures, V.3, 4
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected itin hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
- Romans 8.20, 21
The writer of the Liber describes the sun and moon, as representatives of the entire creation, as “colleagues in this ministry” (Marina Smyth) with Adam and Eve. The ministry in view was that of bringing out the goodness of God throughout all creation (Gen. 2.15; Ps. 8), for the betterment of all creatures and the glory of God. That was God’s plan from the beginning. Had Adam and Even not fallen into sin, they would have made of that beautiful garden something even more beautiful and fecund. And, as they had children, and their children had sinless children, the garden would have expanded until the entire earth was covered with the beauty and goodness of God, the work of the hands of people living without sin according to His truth.
Of course, that’s not what actually happened – although it is where God is ultimately taking things. Our first parents fell into sin, and the introduction of sin into the creation affected everything, including the light of the sun and moon, and our ability to use these gifts as God intends. For the present, creation groans and travails – words typically associated with childbirth – to bring out the goodness and glory of God, because the sins of men have put the creation under bondage, so that it cannot completely fulfill its intended purpose.
But Celtic Christians rightly understood that this condition – creation groaning and mourning – will not continue. When the Redeemer comes and liberates His people into freedom from the bondage of sin and death, then they will bring that freedom and renewal and fecundity to bear on the creation itself, and those ancient “colleagues in ministry” will be reunited in their calling to glorify God and further His Kingdom.
This theme of the redemption of Christ reaching to and transforming the whole world is evident in the art works of Celtic Christians. Especially in illuminated Bible manuscripts and on high carved crosses, we find all kinds of plant and animal forms, together with symbols intended to represent the smallest elements and the largest planets. In every case, these forms are exaggerated beyond what we see when we look at them today, into forms that are fuller or more lithe and lovely, and which are frequently interspersed with words or stories from the Bible. The message is clear: creation is liberated and beautified by the redemption of Christ and the Word of God, and creation and the Word work together to bear witness to the wisdom, power, beauty, and love of God.
What do you see when you look out on the creation around you? The trees, grass, plants, bugs, birds, clouds, hills, rivers, beaches, and all the rest? If you’re thinking with the mindset of Paul and our Celtic Christian forebears, you should see two things.
First, you should see a wealth of gifts that are, for the most part, largely unwrapped. Creation reveals the glory of God, the goodness of our Lord and King, and His power, wisdom, majesty, beauty, wonder, and love. We unwrap that gift when we take the time to observe and care for creation, and to give thanks and praise to God for this wonderful world and all its creatures, and as we encourage others to see in these gifts the glory of Him Who gives them.
Second, we should see opportunities for growing in our knowledge of God, and in the experience of knowing His presence and power more consistently and truly. God has left a witness to Himself in the creation (Acts 14.17), and Jesus upholds the whole of it by His Word of power (Heb. 1.3). All creation, and ourselves included, have our being in God (Acts 17.28), so that we are never far from Him; and, through His creation, we are afforded abundant opportunities for becoming more immersed in and transformed by Him.
As we make these observations, and carry through on the commitments they suggest, we bring the redeeming love and power of Jesus to bear on the world around us. And beauty increases, and truth becomes more visible, and goodness flourishes just a bit more, because we who know the liberating power of the Gospel extend that liberation to the many and varied gifts of creation that come into our hands.
By His life, death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, Jesus has reconciledthe sin-burdened world to God (2 Cor. 5.19). Our calling, as those who have been liberated into eternal life in Christ, is to take up the ancient mandate and the work of restoring creation to its proper glory (Heb. 2.5-9), by fixing our eyes on Jesus, receiving every creature as a gift from God, and, working like rock hounds, bringing out the hidden beauty and grandeur the lies within the untidiness, foreignness, and woundedness of the creation all around.
How will you take up this high and holy calling today?
Questions for Reflection
1. The glory of God is throughout creation, and it has great power once it is observed as such. Why are most of us so unaware of this glory, or so indifferent to its power?
2. Look around at the various creatures that come into your purview each day. How can you begin to restore their God-given goodness and purpose?
Psalm 145.4-12 (Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
To ev’ry generation we Your wondrous works shall tell.
The splendor of Your majesty we contemplate full well.
We speak of all Your mighty deeds and all Your greatness tell!
Then shall we all the glorious fame of Your great goodness sing –
Your righteousness, Your gracious Name, Your mercy: praise we bring!
Your steadfast love remains the same, mercy our covering.
Your works shall thank You; all Your saints shall bless and praise You, Lord.
Your reign we bless without restraint; Your power fills our words.
Our children we shall educate in all Your splendor, Lord.
Lord, let me bring freedom and restoration to Your creation today, so that…
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T. M. Moore, Principal
Davies, p. 7