Celtic Spiritual Poetry (18)
my soul from every vengeance,
as you delivered Martin
from the priest of the idol.
Deliver me, Jesus,
for the sake of your followers,
as you delivered Patrick
from poison in Tara.
- Oengus mac Oengobann,“The Martyrology of Oengus,”Irish, 9th century
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
- Hebrews 11.39, 40
Some Christians seem to think there are two kinds of history, two kinds of time.
First, there is Bible time, and Bible history. Things happened in the Bible that were unique, and that we don’t expect to see happen in normal time and history, where we live, you know, today.
Things like God doing extraordinary acts of deliverance, help, and support, or empowering people in remarkable ways for witness or service. Things like God’s people being suddenly revived and renewed, or large numbers of people coming to faith in Jesus. That was then, in Bible times.
Celtic Christians believed that their times were of a piece with Biblical time and history. In his “Féilire”, or “Martyrology”, Oengus mac Oengobann created a lyrical resource for helping Christians in his day walk in the steps of great saints who had gone before.
The “Martyrology” is a calendar of saints days in verse – one saint per day for the entire year – with an introduction explaining why such a composition was necessary, and an extended conclusion detailing the benefits of making good use of the poem. It is written in stanzas of four lines, which are linked to one another by alliteration, a device that repeats sounds, so as to facilitate memorizing parts or the whole poem.
The two stanzas from the epilogue of "The Martyrology of Oengus", cited above, are numbers 27 and 28 of 30 stanzas in a row that begin with a variation of the supplication, “Deliver me, Jesus…” The first 26 of these stanzas recall incidents of the Lord’s deliverance of people in Bible times. Our stanzas represent the transition from Bible time to our time, carrying the theme of God’s deliverance into history. Oengus moves from the apostle John to Martin of Tours and Patrick, then (stanza 29) to Coemgen (mid-6thcentury). Three stanzas later, the poem concludes, looking down the corridor of time to the return of our Lord Jesus, and exulting, “Your miracles are everlasting.”
The implication is clear: The God Who worked in Bible time to deliver the saints and martyrs of Scripture is still in the business of delivering His people today, in our time. His covenant, so powerful in its unfolding in Scripture, is still unfolding by His same power in our times. His miracles areeverlasting. That’s worth remembering and laying hold on, and Oengus hoped his calendar of the saints would help us in doing so.
There is no diminishment of divine activity during the times in which we live. Quite the contrary: God is moreat work, more powerfully, and more widespread in our time than He everwas in the days when Scripture was being given. His power to revive, renew, awaken, transform, and bless is moreactive, moreconcentrated, and moreeffective today than it has ever been before.
Which is simply to say, that time is on our side, because our Lord Jesus is at work in it; and we may expect from Him more and greater things in our times than we typically seek (Jer. 33.3; Jn. 14.12; Eph. 3.20).
Jesus is ready to deliver you today. He is poised to meet your needs today. To empower you to be His witness today. To revive you to greater depths of life and love, and to flow living waters of grace and truth through you today. To startle the lost and encourage the saints through your servant-like care and love today. To turn your Personal Mission Field rightside-up for Him today.
The promises of Bible times – of the presence and power of God – continue and find their fulfillment in our times, today.
Time is on our side, because God is at work within it (Phil. 2.13). Make the most of the time God gives you today.
Questions for Reflection
1. Why does it matter that our times and the times of the Bible are the sametimes?
2. How do you expect God to be at work in the time of your life today?
Psalm 105.1, 2, 8-11 (Warrington:Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Give thanks unto the Lord Most High; call on His Name, before Him cry!
Make known His deeds in every land; sing praise for all the works of His hand.
He will His covenant faithfully guard – His oath, the promise of His Word.
That which He to our fathers swore, He will perform forevermore!
Lord, help me to make the most of my time today, as I…
From the Ailbe Scriptorium
We are an online community, and we are busy in our Scriptorium providing Bible study resources for you – daily devotionals, guides to prayer, resources for personal and group study. Subscribe to Scriptoriumat the website for daily insights to help you prepare for you rcalling to serve the Lord in His Kingdom.
Thank the Lord with us!
The Lord provides for the needs of The Fellowship of Ailbe by moving on the hearts of those who benefit from our work and believe in our mission. If that includes you, please seek the Lord in prayer concerning this opportunity. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate onlinethrough credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Carey, p. 227.