Remembering the Saints (11)
Abban went into Eile, and the king and the people of the country were holding a fair, and they were heathen: and Abban came sowing the Word of God among them.
- Anonymous, Life of Abban ((16th century, from an earlier manuscript)
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field…”
- Matthew 13.24
Celtic Christians understood that the Kingdom of God comes on earth as it is in heaven by the sowing of the Good Seed of the Word of God. Those who preceded Patrick, Patrick, and those who followed him for nearly three centuries all took seriously the work of preaching and evangelizing as they were going about in their ministries.
They might encounter ruffians along the way in their journey, and boldly call them to repentance and faith. Perhaps they came upon someone in need, and, meeting that need, proceeded to tell them about Jesus. When visiting in someone’s home, talking about Jesus was the natural thing to do. In public venues – like fairs, the courts of king, during celebrations of various sorts, and even in the midst of pagan worship services, Celtic Christians proclaimed forgiveness, eternal life, and the Kingdom of God to people all over Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and throughout Europe.
Jesus compared the message of the Kingdom to a seed which had to be sown and, once sown, watered, cultivated, and protected from harmful influences. Jesus intends the entire field of the world to be sown with the Good Seed of the Kingdom, and, to that end, He has sent every believer to his or her own Personal Mission Field to live and proclaim the Kingdom to the people around us.
As Abban was evangelizing among the “heathen” of Eile, he was challenged concerning the power of this faith he proclaimed. Could he explain a puzzling natural phenomenon? Help in overcoming a persistent problem? Give comfort and rest to an old, dying patriarch?
Turns out, yes, he could. The accounts summarized in the preceding paragraph are a little more involved and fantastic than I suggest. We don’t need to believe all the literal details of these tales to appreciate the writer’s purpose. Those who came preaching and evangelizing in the Name of Jesus were not peddlers of high-falutin’ words. They cared about people and their needs, did what they could to help, spoke words of comfort and encouragement to those in need, were bold and confident in the face of opposition, and always referred all their actions back to Jesus and His Kingdom. The fantastic embellishments hagiographers frequently attached to the good works of these saints were in line with familiar cultural tropes and doubtless received as poetic license by those who read them.
But they made the point. Tell about Jesus, show Jesus. Care enough to evangelize, care enough to help or comfort. Sowing Good Seed into our Personal Mission Field is a matter of words and deeds. We must be ready with good works at every opportunity (Tit. 3.8, 14); and we must speak the truth in love, our words seasoned always with grace (Eph. 4.15; Col. 4.6).
Not all those who heard Abban and others preach, or saw or experienced their good works, believed the Good News. But the hardness of some did not discourage them from their calling. They had been called to the Kingdom and glory of God and were sent like Jesus was sent to proclaim and embody the salvation of the Lord (1 Thess. 2.12; Jn. 20.21; Ps. 119.41, 42). So also have we.
I find these stories about the saints of the Celtic Revival to be encouraging in that they illustrate what Jesus intended for His followers and remind us that, because we are in that long lineage that passes from Jesus and the apostles through believers like Abban down to our own day, we can learn what we must do and how we may be blessed by studying the lives of those saints who have gone before.
1. How will you show the Good News of the Kingdom today?
2. What opportunities do you expect to have to tell the Good News?
Sing Psalm 138.1-3
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
I will give You thanks and praise You,
God of gods, with all my heart.
I will bow before Your temple,
grateful praise to You impart.
For Your Name and for Your glory,
You have magnified Your Word!
Use me today, O Lord, to sow Good Kingdom Seed as I…
Help for the sowing
Order free copies of our book, The Gospel of the Kingdom and Joy to Your World! and learn how you can be more effective at telling and showing the Good News (click here).
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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.
Tell and Show
- T.M. Moore
- January 31, 2023
It's all part of evangelizing.
Remembering the Saints (11)
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.
Books by T. M. Moore