Welcome to a View from the Vicarage, as we continue to walk through these days of darkness together yet apart I want to share with you another of the brightest lights of the history of our own region. I have been looking at our Northern Saints and the way they coped with the darkness and looked to the light that is Jesus Christ as an inspiration to us all.
St Chad along with his brother Cedd (also a saint) was another of our saints educated at Lindisfarne Abbey by its founder St Aidan. After time being further educated in Ireland Cedd called his brother back to the North of England to join him and they established the monastery of Lastingham in North Yorkshire, when Cedd died in 664 his brother Chad became the second abbot of Lastingham.
It was not long however before King Oswy of Northumbria called for him to be consecrated as Bishop of York. This did not make the King or Chadd popular as our very own St Wilfrid had already been choses as Bishop of York but because he insisted on travelling to Gaul to be consecrated the King would not wait for Wilfrid and appointed Chad.
Chad was disciplined by Theodore, the newly arrived archbishop of Canterbury, in 669. Chad accepted Theodore’s charges of impropriety with such humility and grace however that Theodore regularized his consecration and appointed him the Bishop of Mercia. He established a see at Lichfield.
After Chad’s death many miracles were recorded at his shrine in Lichfield cathedral, during the reformation his relics were saved by Roman Catholics and enshrined in Birmingham.
We often look at our saints as perfect imitators of the faith, we assume a holiness beyond humanity and forget they were just as human as we are. My fondness for Chad is that his story is not of miracles and a perfect life but one who made mistakes, mistake enough to lose his position as Bishop of York. Yet that holiness comes through in other ways with Chadd, in humility and in grace and with those comes forgiveness from God and then a new role, a new mission to extend God’s kingdom in a dark land.
As we look at the world around us and feel a sense of despair that we cannot change or even do anything we must remember Chad, he messed up just like so many saints before and after him. Chad’s example calls us to be people of both grace and humility who kneel fore of saviour Asking for his forgiveness and his calling on each of our lives as we seek to be lights in the darkness.
The hymn that I have been reflecting on as we seek forgiveness from God and then to follow him in his calling open our lives is William Williams’ beautiful hymn “Guide me o thou great Redeemer”. As the notes of the beautiful tune Cwm Rhonda come to mind the words “I am weak but thou are might, hold me with thy powerful hand” are coupled with “lead me all my journey through”.
Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
hold me with thy pow’rful hand:
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
feed me till I want no more,
feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through:
strong deliv’rer, strong deliv’rer
be thou still my strength and shield,
be thou still my strength and shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death, and hell’s destruction,
land me safe on Canaan’s side:
songs and praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee,
I will ever give to thee.
I finish with the collect (prayer) for St Chad
Almighty God, from the first fruits of the English nation who turned to Christ, you called your servant Chad to be an evangelist and a bishop of his own people; give us grace as to follow his peaceable nature, humble spirit and prayerful life, that we may truly commend to others the faith which we ourselves profess; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen
Your friend and Vicar