Scriptural Lesson from Abbot Liam
Updated: Mar 11
The Celtic Way - Salvation
Salvation is both an act and a process. It is an act for God and a process for us that begins at the Cross of Christ, God's Atonement, and restoration of fallen humanity. The Resurrection and Ascension open the way for us to find forgiveness in Christ and receive the Holy Spirit, as a witness to our adoption as sons and daughters of God in Christ.
What must I do to be saved? There are two verses in John's Gospel that are credited to Jesus, which goes to the heart of the answer as to Salvation from God's perspective. I say this intentionally because later the Apostles and disciples start adding conditions to what Jesus said. Much later the institutional church adds even more conditions. The early Celts viewed Salvation in the simplest of concepts, as an act of God, and a process for believers in Christ.
John 5:24 - Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation;
but is passed from death unto life. John 14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Salvation is a personal relationship with God in Christ. It is a one-on-one encounter with God in Christ, and this concept in its simplest form was all that is needed for one to be saved. This is the act of God in Christ. Now equally important is the process for us. Believing leads to accepting; accepting responsibility for our actions and shortcomings. Thus the Apostles said once you believe, then you should show an outward sign of that inward belief, and be baptized in the Name of God in Trinity. After baptism, you will receive the Holy Spirit as a sign of God's acceptance of your entrance into the Body of Christ, the Church. From baptism until physical death the believer begins a process toward Salvation. A walk with God in Christ for a lifetime, the walk along the Celtic Way. Believers are called upon to live a life that exemplifies Christ, in prayer, in sacrifice, in worship, in study, in every aspect of living. They are called to be mindful of nature and the sacred and value aspect of all created life in all its forms. There is always a danger of falling away, so it becomes important to seek out other believers on this journey. The Celtic concept of "Anam Cara" or "soul friend" is the pairing together of believers in a common walk along the Celtic Way. The Church is not an institution, it is a living breathing Body of Christ composed of all believers in union with the Holy Spirit. Like Salvation, the Church is personal and the relationships within the Church are personal.
The Church becomes the "Anam Cara" for all believers. Wherever and whenever, believers gather together to worship God in Christ whether through song, or dance, or harvest, or whatever the occasion, there is the Church. The deacons are servants to the community of believers, the priestly monks are servants to the community of believers, and the bishops are servants and shepherds of the community of believers. Every believer was equal to all other believers, there was not a hierarchy within the Celtic Church. In the beginning, Celtic monks and even their bishops were habits of poverty and walked barefooted throughout the land. While at the same time, Roman monks wore sandals and finely made habits and their bishops wore vestments adorned with silver and gold. Outwardly, there were two very different concepts of what the Church should be. Inwardly, there were no comparisons between the two, the Celts sought to serve, the Romans sought to be served.
This is how my grandmother and mother explained their faith to me as a child, now I am an aged abbot bishop and I share it with you.