For every material and every element and every nature which is seen in the world, they were all brought together in the body in which Christ rose again – that is, in the body of every human.
- Anonymous, In Tenga Bithnua, Irish, perhaps 9th century
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile to Himself all things, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace by the blood of His cross.
- Colossians 1.17-20
In its best expressions, the Celtic Christian sense of dependence on Christ was absolute and total. “Let us all love Jesus,” wrote Oengus mac Oengoban, late in the period of the Celtic Revival, “for this is the highest thing.”
We see this devotion to Jesus throughout the source material from this period (ca. 430-800 AD). Poets, preachers, and wandering missionary/scholars lived toward the vision of Christ in glory. In testimonies, sermons, and poems, on massive carved crosses, and in illuminated manuscripts, Jesus is portrayed as exalted in glory. He is praised as the consummation of every great Biblical story and theological truth, the One Who rules over all peoples and all creation, exalted above the planets and even the sun.
Celtic Christians, following Paul, understood that all creation consists in Christ, depends on Him, belongs to Him, and bears witness to Him. For them, Christ was truly all in all. Everything comes together in Jesus. Everything bears witness to Him. And everything only makes sense when Jesus is the final point of reference.
The Easter sermon, The Ever-New Tongue (In Tenga Bithnua), was ascribed to Philip the evangelist, and may derive from very early roots in the Christian movement. Its teaching is consistent with orthodox Christology, and its purpose was to remind believers of the enormous significance of the resurrection, exaltation, and reign of Jesus Christ.
Every element in our bodies, and throughout the whole creation, depends for its existence on His steadfast love and faithfulness, and His good pleasure and power. We are in every part sustained and supported by grace alone, as indeed, is all the vast cosmos.
This view of the cosmos as created, sustained, and cared for by our almighty Savior, anchors a worldview of hope, purpose, self-denial, and mission, which contrasts starkly with the cold, impersonal, purposeless view of the universe hawked by naturalist thinkers in our day.
It is no wonder that the vision of Christ exalted, seated on His glorious throne, His scepter of uprightness in hand, held such a prominent place in the everyday faith of Celtic Christians.
We and all we possess, together with the whole vast creation, find our orientation, purpose, and goals in Christ. We are His Body on earth, and we must be devoted to living in a manner consistent with His purposes and peace in all the details of our lives.
The Celtic Christian vision of Christ presents a truly Christ-centered worldview which, if we could recover it in practice in our everyday lives, might give us a greater sense of unity with one another and with the glory-speaking creation of God.
And it might lead us to believe that our King Jesus will not leave His creation to wither, His Church to languish, or His promises to remain unfulfilled. His Kingdom has come, His rule on earth has begun, and it will increase in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit until He returns (Is. 9.6, 7). The great salvation we have in Jesus Christ includes everything about us, and everything about the world Christ made, loves, and rules. From His glorious throne at the right hand of God, Jesus is making all things new (Rev. 21.5).
Jesus is Lord! Tell the world! Tell the people in your Personal Mission Field!
Tell yourself everyday that you and all things are, continue, flourish, and know fullness of joy in, by, and for Jesus Christ!
Questions for Reflection
1. Why do we need a vision of Jesus as large as that which the Scriptures portray?
2. Whom can you you encourage today to see this glorious and sovereign Savior more clearly?
Psalm 104.24-30 (Creation: Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim)
How many are Your works, O Lord, which You have created by Your Word!
The earth and sea with creatures teem – they look to You to care and feed.
You give to them, they gather all; You hide Your face, they fail and fall.
You take their breath, they gasp and die; You send Your Spirit, they revive.
Enlarge my vision, Lord! Let me see Jesus more clearly, so that today I will…
The Vision of Christ
Our devotional book, Be Thou My Vision, provides 28 of the best issues of Crosfigell, grounded in Scripture and the Celtic Fathers, and leading you to a richer, fuller, and more hopeful vision of Christ. Order your copy by clicking here. Or order a copy for yourself and a friend, and work through these devotionals together. You you can watch a brief video on the Celtic Christian view of Christ by clicking here).
Your Prayers and Support
If this ministry, The Fellowship of Ailbe, is of benefit to you, and you believe in our mission, we ask you to seek the Lord concerning whether He would have you support this work with your financial gifts. You can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction VT 05452.
T. M. Moore
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. 79.