The Feast of St. Aidan: Wandering Evangelism

From Forward Movement:

Today the church remembers Aidan, 651, and Cuthbert, 687, Bishops of Lindisfarne.

Aidan provides us with a strong example that actions often speak louder than words and the best kind of Christian evangelism is that which proceeds from godly and charitable living. Trained at Iona, Scotland, Aidan was already revered as a compassionate and learned monk when King Oswald of Northumbria invited him to help with the evangelization of Northern England.

Aidan joyfully responded and began the work by founding a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne. This monastery soon became a center for missionary and charitable activities throughout England and Scotland. The monks of Lindisfarne followed the old Celtic rites and practices, but Aidan had traveled widely on the continent and was able to familiarize them with the practices of the Roman Church, thus preparing his people for things to come.

Aidan trained a whole generation of Christian leaders for the English church. Included among them were numerous bishops and saints. Perhaps the highest compliment paid to Aidan was that of the Venerable Bede (see May 25) who wrote that Aidan “taught no otherwise than he and his followers lived; for he neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing to the poor whatsoever was given him by the kings or rich men of the world.”

May we take delight in doing your work, O Christ. Amen.

Aidan is remembered for wandering the English countryside, speaking to commoner and nobleman alike. He is remembered for climbing the ecclesial ladder while keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the least and the lost.

The witness of Aidan is powerful in 2017.

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This is why we named the young adult intentional community in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia The Aidan Community.

The days of top-down evangelism or mission as a disguise for institutional advancement are over. They do not work anymore (and some would argue they never did).

What works now is relationship – Aidan’s wandering evangelism. We are called to journey with those who do not know Christ; to hear their story and share our own. We are called to connect their story with the story of God.

The Good News of God’s redemption spreads like wildfire when it is presented with passion and joy, like St. Aidan.

The work of relationship is slow and messy. There are not five easy steps or guaranteed deliverables. Walking with people will leave your feet sore and dirty, but there is a chance that your hearts will burn as Christ journeys with you.

May we follow the example of St. Aidan today and every day. May we take delight in doing the work of Christ.

 

 

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