Wednesday, February 25, 2004

from Presbyterians Today, 2002, "Beneath the Celtic Cross of Jesus"

For centuries Celtic Christianity was the "road not taken" by the established church. Because it affirmed the goodness of creation and emphasized equality among all believers, the Celtic road was marked with the misleading warning "heretical," and few Christians chanced traveling it. However, noting how it addresses many contemporary concerns, Christians today are walking the Celtic path and finding in their journey a rich spiritual experience.

A brief meandering into Celtic Christianity begins beneath its most recognizable symbol, the ancient high stone crosses that mark Scottish and Irish countrysides. These crosses unite the two touchstones of Celtic theology, creation and salvation. The circle represents God the creator. Pre-Christian Celts worshiped the sun, which they believed to be the source of life. Early Celtic missionaries used these circles as a symbol for the Christian God, the "Creator of heaven and earth." The cross of course is Christ's cross, the symbol of salvation. Chiseled into the crosses are Biblical scenes of God's redemptive acts throughout history.

On the following pages are descriptions of seven characteristics of Celtic theology or spirituality and suggested practices for enriching each week of the Lenten season.

All creation is alive with the presence of God

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Celtic Christianity is its affinity with nature. The Celts enthusiastically affirmed the psalmist's declaration, "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims [God's] handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). The Celts believed that all creation is alive with God's presence. Because God's Spirit dwells in all living things, everything is inherently good; therefore all creation is to be treated sacramentally.

A consequence of believing all creation is alive with God's presence was that everything could be a window to God. Celts found nature an "icon." They could "see into" it and see God. Every moment, every location could become a time and place for encountering God.

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