O holy Jesu; O gentle friend; O Morning Star; O mid-day Sun adorned; O brilliant flame of the righteous, and of righteousness and of everlasting life, and of eternity; O Fountain ever-new, ever-living, ever-lasting...
- Anonymous, Litany of Jesus II, Irish, 15th century
“For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“That will leave them neither root nor branch.
But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.”
- Malachi 4.1, 2
J. B. Phillips wrote a book some years ago entitled, Your God is Too Small. In this book he surveyed the various grand misconceptions of God – the doting Grandfather in the Sky, the Cosmic Cop, and so on – that people hold to in the erroneous belief that this is what God is like.
It’s a book well worth reading.
I often feel that our view of Jesus suffers from a similar lack of clarity. Celtic Christians never underestimated the glory, power, and awesome might of the resurrected, reigning, and returning Jesus. On the high carved crosses of that period, He is often represented as the Sun, the Bringer of Light and Upholder of the vast cosmos. All the many panels on a carved cross show the centrality and supremacy of Christ. The great stories of the Bible and Church history point to Him; all the peoples of the world adore and worship Him; and all of creation arranges itself in an orderly and beautiful manner according to His rule and Word.
A Celtic carved cross is not a crucifix, but a statement in celebration of the magnificence of King Jesus and His glorious power to save and renew. It is a worldview, etched in stone.
In the glorious illuminated Gospels of the Celtic period – the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels – Jesus is depicted as utterly beautiful, completely at peace, and sovereign over all creation.
For more personal use, the individual litanies that appeared in the period of the afterglow of the Celtic Revival still manage to capture some of the greatness of the Lord, as we see in today’s selection. Jesus is at once deeply personal – “gentle friend” – and immensely cosmic – “mid-day Sun” – as well as intensely spiritual and life-giving in these Celtic Christian representations.
Is this the Jesus you worship? Who’s your Jesus, anyway? Is He the One Who upholds the universe and all things in it by the Word of His power? Who is putting all His enemies under His feet? Who goes forth conquering and to conquer, and rules the world with a scepter of uprightness? Who shines with a majesty and brilliance that will light the entire new heavens and new earth? Yet Who continues whispering on your behalf to the Father of Glory, every moment of every day?
Or is yours the gentle Jesus, meek and mild, Who would never think to demand anything of you, but only to let Him love you?
When the Jesus of Scripture and our Celtic Christian forebears is our Jesus, then we will know more of the transforming grace and power they knew, and which sustained a revival of true Christianity that lasted for nearly four centuries.
Who’s your Jesus?
1. Right now, think of Jesus. What do you see? How do you imagine Him? Where are you in relation to Him?
2. Do you think about Jesus throughout the day? How can you begin to have a fuller and more complete and transforming vision of Jesus?
Psalm 2.7, 8 (Agincourt: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
Proclaim the message far and wide, that God has exalted the Crucified!
From heav’n He sent us His only Son, Who has for us salvation won!
Heavenly Father, I would see Jesus as He truly is, as He is right now, so that I…
Would you see Jesus?
We encourage you to do so. Learn to meditate on Jesus, so that you can say with the Psalmist, “I have set the LORD always before me” (Ps. 16.8). Download our free, 28-day meditation on Psalm 45, Glorious Vision, by clicking here. And when you’ve finished that, add another 28 days of meditating on Jesus by ordering a copy of Be Thou My Vision from our online store (click here).
If this ministry is important to you, we ask you please to prayerfully consider becoming a supporter of The Fellowship of Ailbe. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
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.
 Plummer, Litanies, p. 41.