Oh yeah, that’s right….I forgot that I have a MA in Mission (Celtic Spirituality and Mission)! The weird thing is that having spent 4 years exploring some of the ideas of ‘new Celtic monasticism’ on an academic level, there was that small hint of having needed to take a bit of a breather from all the associated ideas. In exploring stuff academically, you get into academic critical mode – you have to stand outside the mainstream flow of it in order to assess, write, reflect and all that jazz. There was a sense of having to take a few steps back to look more objectively. Anyone who has done anything academic in that way will perhaps testify that, after such intense reading, writing and reflecting, you sometimes feel like never discussing it again!!
But, in fact, new Celtic monasticism is very close to my heart, not only as a Companion of the Northumbria Community, but as a Christian seeking to find new and creative ways to engage in a post-Christendom society with an ever ancient message. My dissertation was all about how new Celtic Monasticism offers a missional model to the 21st Centurty church in forming new disciples, new ecclesial communities, and hubs for wholistic mission in our contemporary society.
‘Celtic’ for me is not about nice rhythmic prayers, bodhrans, shamrocks, nature connection or any other of the ‘romanticised Celtic revival’ out there. It is much more about a gritty discipleship, imagining alternative ways to live in an increasingly consumerist world, and about relocating Christian life and witness to the ‘roads and lanes’ of our communities. Oh, and prayer, spiritual warfare and the evangelisation of the nations.
Today, during my day off, I was just listening to God, reflecting on the call and heart he has given to me, and just desiring again that He would graciously do something in our day that would strip away the cosy comfort of contemporary Christianity and renew the church through an unflinching commitment to the teaching of Jesus fleshed out in the reality of the post-Christian world we’re in. Not a shamrock in sight.