Abbot Aidan - 31 August, 651 Linisfarne & Oswald, Northumbria 642
O loving God, who didst call thy servant Aidan from the Peace of a cloister to re-establish the Christian mission in northern England, and didst endow him with gentleness, simplicity, and strength: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, following his example, may use what thou hast given us for the relief of human need, and may persevere in commending the saving Gospel of our Redeemer Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever.
Is 61 , St. Matthew 19:17-30 Psalm 85:8-13
Today the Church remembers Adian - Abbot and Bishop of Lindisfarne in Northern England, and we also remember his King and companion, Oswald. Bede said of Aidans missionary work: "many Northumbrians, both noble and simple, laid aside their weapons, preferring to take monastic vows rather than study the art of war."
We begin our story in 627, when Bishop Paulinus of York led a mission from Canterbury to Northern England and converted King Edwin of Northumbria. Then just five years later, Edwin died in battle and the pagans took over. Oswald, who was Edwin's nephew, went in to exile in the Columba's monastery of Iona and there was baptized.
Oswald returned to Northumbria and regained the Kingdom. He set about to evangelize the kingdom. The first attempt failed, the missionary saying the Northumbrians were too barbaric. A young monk named Aidan, hearing the missionary complain, said "Perhaps you were too harsh with them, and they might have responded better to a gentler approach." He was thereupon selected for the job.
Aidan was an austere monk. He operated out of Lindendfarn - an island off the northeast coast of England , now often called Holy Isle. He was successful, with the help of King Oswald, in restoring Christianity.
Aidan died on 31 August, 651. The historian Bede said of him:
"He neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing immediately to the poor whatever was given him by kings or rich men of the world. He traversed both town and country on foot, never on horseback, unless compelled by some urgent necessity. Wherever on his way he saw any, either rich or poor, he invited them, if pagans, to embrace the mystery of the faith; or if they were believers, he sought to strengthen them in their faith and stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works."
Bede says that Aidan was once given a horse by King Oswald, the legend goes that when he then turned about and gave it to a poor peasant, Oswald rebuked him. Bede reports: Aidan turned on the king: "is the son of a mare is more important to you than a son of God?" The king then set aside his sword and prostrated himself at the bishop's feet and begged forgiveness. This alarmed Aidan: "I know this king will not live long", he said privately to a colleague, "for I never before saw a humble king."
Remember our Gospel today. Jesus, perceiving that the young man loved his wealth more than anything else said to him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
I presume he could not bring himself to do so, but left the presence of our master.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
the disciples then asked Who then can be saved?
Jesus, looking upon them with compassion, comforted them saying: With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Peter, just a bit concerned at this point, let Jesus know that they had all forsaken their possessions to follow him, and Jesus assured them they would be enthroned in heaven and eat at his board.
Consider now, if you will, the story of Aidan in 650 and some of the religous figures in our time that have enriched themselves. Does Jesus still speak to us today, is his message still valid when he says " every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, whose servant Aidan, following our Saviour's example, abased himself to better serve thee and his King Oswald in restoring Christianity to Northern England; grant that we may put aside all manner of worldly cares, and seek thy will in all we do; through Jesus Christ
The Reverend Mark Carroll, 2005