Yesterday we enjoyed a delightful breakfast together. Katy and Mark fulfilled their usual offices with great skill and they provided a wonderful meal for us all. Whilst they laboured the rest of us gathered to think about the lessons to be learned from Paul in 1 Corinthians and the life of St Brigid.
We began by sharing some stories of our ancestors. Val and Joanne remarked that they were related to famous people but for most of us we are descended from very ordinary stock. Then we used this reading:
Paul reminds the people of Corinth that our message as Christians sounds odd on the face of it: ‘…we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks. Placing our trust in the life of one who died a criminal’s death seems to run contrary to everything that the world values as important.
Paul reminds them to: ‘…think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.’
His point is that we are just ordinary people with an extraordinary message of good news for everyone. The question is how do we communicate that message.
Here is the Powerpoint that we used.
For the answer we reflected on the life St. Brigid. Her origins were very humble. She was the daughter of a slave kidnapped by Irish pirates. She grew up working on her father’s farm At 18 she became a Christian through the ministry of Patrick. She showed great concern for the poor and on one occasion gave her father’s bejewelled sword to a leper. Her father encouraged her to follow her calling to be a nun. Something at which she excelled and many women came to join her in Kildare where her convent was located.
The important story for us was of her encounter with a dying pagan chieftain. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized just before he died.
The point of the story is that Brigid used the ordinary things that were at hand (just as Jesus often did) as a means of communicating the truth of the gospel. Perhaps we could learn from her as we interact with the people around us.