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Creation as Revelation

We can see Him everywhere.

The Celtic Revival: Celtic Christian Worldview (5)

With grace the bright King of mysteries
has revealed to us every wonder,
that through them we may understand Him – a bright protection –
and through the multitude of His miracles.

The King Who has made each creature in turn,
visible and invisible:
save for the King Who made those things
there is no king upon the earth.

  - Anonymous, Saltair na Rann (9th or 10th century)[1]

… what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…

  - Romans 1.19, 20

In the afterglow of the Celtic Revival, as a kind of ecclesiastical sclerosis began to settle on the churches in Ireland and elsewhere, and the fires of revival had become but a memory, certain leaders sought to recover and record key components of that revival, so that the features of that revival and the teachings that fueled and sustained it would not be lost to subsequent generations.

Some turned to the arts – illuminated manuscripts and carved crosses – while others wrote devotional literature, spiritual poems, and even a glossary of ancient words. Still others tried to organize communities of the faithful around a commitment to rigorous disciplines, seeking to recover some of the spiritual vigor of the early Irish monastics.

One of the most beautiful of these post-Celtic Revival works is the Saltair na Rann.

The writer of Saltair na Rann (The Psalter of the Quatrains) intended like Colum Cille (in Altus Prosator) to give an overview of sacred history, from creation to the last days, thus providing a summary of the Christian worldview that characterized this period. His purpose was to magnify the God of creation and history, thereby to remind his readers of the true focus and fount of their faith.

The excerpt above continues our previous reflections on creation, here specifically mentioning both things “visible and invisible” as having been made by “the bright King of mysteries.” Everything that exists comes from the creative work of God – His work of creation in the beginning and His ongoing work of making and keeping by His Word and Spirit (Heb. 1.3; Ps. 104.30). And everything that exists offers us some glimpse into the mystery of God, that we may know, enjoy, worship, and serve Him as He intends.

Celtic Christians appreciated the power of creation, and they knew it could be a source of great fear. They were familiar with storms, wind, rough seas, dangerous animals, poisonous plants, and treacherous places. The lorica (breastplate) poems from earlier in this period call upon the Lord to surround and sustain believers, protecting them from the dangers of creation as they go about their daily tasks.

The composer of Saltair na Rann saw in the glories and mysteries of creation – as well as its dangers – insights to God. In “every wonder” of the created world was something that could help us “understand Him.” In this the poet echoes Paul, seeing the creation as a means by which God reveals Himself to men.

If creation is a marvel of wonder upon wonder, how much more should we wonder and marvel at Him Who “made each creature in turn”? If creation is to be feared, how much more should He be feared Who made and rules creation? No king on earth can protect us from the power of creation when its dangers overwhelm us. But the King of mysteries is King even of creation, and all His works and wonders teach us to know Him as the One Who by His unfathomable grace protects His people from all dangers and fears.

God provides “a bright protection” for those who know Him. Creation in its powers – including the power of natural death – may indeed overwhelm us, but beyond creation lies the eternal brightness of God and His unseen Kingdom. Nothing in creation and no earthly king or power can keep us from attaining to the eternal brightness of God, brightness which we see radiating and shimmering throughout creation, and which speaks to us of God’s great strength and protecting love, brightness from the then and there which we may enter and enjoy every moment of our here and now.

The writer rests in the sovereign power and love of the God of creation:

  The King Who rules over cold and heat,
  my true King Who watches over me,
  it is He Who has established every division,
  the King beyond reckoning, beyond telling.

He is truly the King of mysteries. Every mystery and wonder of creation speaks to us of God’s bright protection and unrivaled power. And the greatest mystery of all is that He has made and cares for us.

For Reflection
1. How often do you take time to reflect on creation as a witness to God?

2. How might you practice that discipline today?

Psalm 19.1-4 (St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The heav’ns declare God’s glory, the skies His work proclaim!
From day to day and night by night they shout His glorious Name!
No speech, no words, no voice is heard, yet all across the earth
The lines of His all-present Word make known His holy worth.

Creation’s Witness
Want to learn more about how to hear and see the Lord in the works of creation? Our book Consider the Lilies: A Plea for Creational Theology can help. Learn more about this book and order a free copy by clicking here.

Thank you
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.

If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
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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.

 

[1] Carey, p. 108.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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