Sermon Aug 31, 2017

The Feast of Aidan, 651 and Cuthbert, 684 Bishops of Lindisfarne

Preacher: The Rev. Adrienne R. Hymes
Gospel: John 10:25b-30

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—Amen.

We take time out to remember the lives of holy men and holy women on what we call “lesser fast and feast days” because the lives of the holy persons were lived modeling the life of Jesus—a life of preaching, teaching, healing and compassion.

Today, we commemorate the lives of two 7th Century bishops—Aidan and Cuthbert—Sounds like a law firm—both of whom used their lives to be the Christ light in the world.

In 633, in the Kingdom of Northumbria (a medieval Anglican kingdom in what is now northern England and south-east Scotland) King Oswald set out to restore the Christian mission after a severe pagan uprising. He called forth a head of the new mission—a gentle monk named Aidan, who centered his work on Lindisfarne, an island off the northeast coast of England. Aidan and his companions successfully restored Christianity in Northumbria and extended the mission through the midlands as far south as London. Aidan died at Bamborough, on August 31, 651.

St. Bede, an English Monk in the Kingdom of Northumbria said of Aidan: “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 in 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, to strengthen them in the faith and stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works.”—REMIND YOU OF ANYONE? Jesus also had a walking ministry; one that had laser-focus on people—rich or poor—people. He invited people to believe in the truth of his divine nature.

Cuthbert was the most popular saint of the pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon Church. In response to a vision of the death of Aidan of Lindisfarne, Cuthbert entered religious life and was formed in the traditions of austere (strict) Celtic monasticism. Aidan’s death impacted the life of Cuthbert as he said, “Yes,” to being an instrument of God’s grace—REMIND YOU OF ANYONE? Jesus’ life certainly impacted the lives of all whom he encountered. And, Jesus’ DEATH on the cross—his “Yes,” in obedience to God’s will, authored our eternal salvation.

As a bishop, Cuthbert accepted the decisions of the Synod of Whitby in 663 that brought the usages of the English Church in line with Roman practice. Cuthbert died at his hermitage on March 20, 687, and is known as a “healer of the breach” that threatened to divide the church into Celtic and Roman factions—REMIND YOU OF ANYONE? Jesus is the “repairer of the breach” between God and humankind. Jesus, then is the great reconciler.

In our reading today from Paul’s letter to the Romans, we learn that we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. Saints Aidan and Cuthbert are remembered for the gifts bestowed upon them, by God’s grace, to be Jesus in the world. May we also remember that each of us is called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus so that we proclaim the Good News of God in Christ not only on our lips, but in our lives. Amen.