A Great Leader
As I celebrate St Aidan’s day, back home here in Northumberland, my Facebook reflections on his life written last year in Ireland, still resonate. Perhaps more so, given the need today for such leadership that serves the common good, is motivated not by the love of power but the power of love. For Christian leaders to have as much heart for those beyond the walls of the church as for those within. Leaders who listen and respond with their hearts, who model servanthood and are not afraid to speak truth to power. Leaders like Aidan, who recognise and encourage the gifts of all and who are not threatened but welcoming and affirming of women in leadership. Leaders who lead rather than simply manage, who impart love not simply learning, whose lives speak of Christ and commend the God News of the faith by simply being who they are. Persuasive not by force of power or manipulating rhetoric but by godly example of lives that reflect the nature of a living God. Leaders who build communities, encourage solidarity, promote unity, work hard for peace and reconciliation and who welcome diversity as a gift. Good Aidan, may we follow your lead and be inspired by the same Holy Spirit that caused you to bring life and hope, transformation and healing to the people of your day.
Blessed Aidan’s Day
Waking in Ireland and returning tomorrow to Northumbria, giving thanks to God for the Celtic saint who among many has been the most influencial in my own life and calling.
Ordained under his statue on Lindisfarne, gathering most Easter Sundays with other Companions and Friends of the Northumbria Community around ‘Aidan’ before renewing our ‘vows’ to God and one another, and mindful of the impact this Irish saint had on shaping faith, this, Aidan’s Day is one of thanksgiving.
I reflect on the goldy life and devotion of Aidan and his companions who journeyed from Iona, settling and establishing a community in the 7th century, whose response to God’s call upon their lives brought life and light, hope and transformation from Northumbria throughout Europe. From the ‘margins’, they carried the light of the Good News, the light of the gospel to the ‘mainstream’. From an out of the way place they went on to shape the church and wider society for the common good.
Giving thanks this day, we remember Aidan; for his love of God, his pioneering, gentleness and patience, kindness, humility, peacableness and care for the poor, his courage, love of truth, devotion and gift of building community.
He embodies the monastic calling of seeking God and sharing life. Building a community where prayer and an intentional life of discipleship was nurtured and deepened in the wells of Desert monastic spirituality’s contemplation and a Celtic willingness to wander for the love of Christ wherever the Spirit led.
Out of the place of solitude and aloneness, of encounter and exposure to God and self, Aidan and his monks journeyed for love of Christ and neighbour to share the life giving, transforming Good News.
Monastic and missional – powerful then and now. Expressing the power of love and not the love of power, (something contemporary political and church leaders should note!) Aidan and those early Celtic followers of Christ came as torchbearers from the North. They brought light and hope in a Dark Age, bringing Good News, not by wielding a sword, by threatening, bullying, beguiling or deceiving but by living humbly before God and one another they shared gentleness, peaceableness and hope.
They spoke truth to power, challenged those with secular power and encouraged compassion, justice and generosity.
May the same Holy Spirit that inspired Aidan and his community, inspire us to be seekers of God, builders of reconciled communities and bearers of life, hope and peace in our emerging Dark Age.