"'Dear father, get into the boat,' said he, 'that we may go and see the island which is called The Land of the Saints, which God is to promise to men who shall come after us.' And when we had entered the boat, a mist fell upon us, so that we could hardly see the prow of our boat."
- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.
- Colossians 3.1, 2
Celtic Christian leaders maintained an active and rigorous life of spiritual disciplines. Their goal was to engage Christ, their exalted King, in His glory at the Father's right hand, and to have that encounter be as continuous and sustaining as it possibly could be. And they recommended this life of daily and hourly devotion for all their followers.
Stories of Celtic saints like Brendan are based on historical people and events, but embellished to make certain points crucial to the Celtic Christian way of life. Such as focusing on the unseen realm and pursuing engagement with that realm at great risk and sacrifice - the life of spiritual discipline.
When Barinthus related the story of how he and his son came upon The Land of the Saints, it was a way of saying they had hit upon a practice of discipline - symbolized by their boat and the journey they undertook in it - which brought them through the mists of spiritual mystery to a real encounter with eternal glory. When Brendan heard this account, he knew at once that he, too, must take up such a life.
So he built a boat - again, symbolic of the life of disciplines - and gathered some friends to "sail" with him on this journey to the unseen realm of glory. Scholars think Brendan probably existed and probably made a voyage such as is described in the Navigatio Brendani; but most also agree that the account of his journeys is intended to encourage readers to focus on the glories of the unseen realm and to take up whatever hardships of sacrifice and discipline would be necessary in order to engage that realm more consistently and more deeply.
This is good advice. Do you have a vision of the unseen realm, the land of saints and glory, where Christ is seated at the Father's right hand? And are you in the boat - actively engaged in spiritual disciplines throughout the day - in your striving to engage that vision more consistently and with greater effects?
This is the challenge of the Celtic Christian vision of the life of faith. If we had more of that vision, we might also realize more of the kind of fruit they did in every area of their lives.
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
In today's ReVision we look at the rehabilitation of narcissism as a new state of normalcy. Great.
Pastors, if you have ever wanted to learn to write, and to have writing as a significant part of your ministry, then an opportunity is coming up for you right after the first of the year. Check out the course, "The Writing Pastor," at our website, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.
Pastors and church leaders, looking for a quick and challenging overview of Christian worldview? The course, "One in Twelve," may be just what you need to train and inspire your church members for more consistent Christian discipleship.