The importance of the example of St Brendan for Pioneer Ministers
St Brendan was an early Christian pioneer from Ireland, who contributed to the re-evangelisation of the United Kingdom from Ireland in the Saxon Period. He is known as Brendan the Navigator, and I think he has a part to play in our shared sense of vocation to pioneering.
Please hear, that I am one of those type of Christians who bulks slightly at the 19th Century romanticism of ‘Celtic Christianity’, but do honour the importance of key figures like Brendan.
Whilst on a retreat with the Northumbria Community, (which was a crucial time for me after I stopped a few weeks ago of being the Leader of the Moot Community, and before I and a few mooters move to Peckham to set up a new monastic community and serve the needs of the Parish of St Luke’s North Peckham), the figure of Brendan was an important source for encouragement.
The sea in early Christian writings, reflected the space like the desert for the desert mothers and fathers. It is dangerous, wild, uncertain, unpredictable, and life threatening. But facing the desert and the sea, is about discipleship, where they act as a metaphor for the spiritual journey of life.
I like many others have got older, now 47, so pioneering seems to get harder, taking risks, as you get older. So I have had a lot of fears about starting out again, partly because pioneering has cost me a lot emotionally and financially let alone socially and personally. But Brendan and the creative writing around his vocation, really helped me to focus on what God was calling me into next, and to find peace in uncertainty.
In the Northumbria Community’s Daily Celtic Prayer, Part XVI for Brendan, I found the following prayer absolutely spot on. I am now trying to pray this every day as part of my prayer time, that it can in me incarnate hope when I hold onto much fear. So this is a quote of that prayer and I highly recommend getting hold of their Daily Celtic Prayer:
Lord I will trust you
help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, can I trust you?
to be stronger that each storm in me?
Do I still yearn for Your glory in lighten on me?
I will show others the care You have shown me.
I determine amidst all uncertainty always to trust.
I choose to live beyond regret, and let You recreate my life.
I believe You will make a way for me and provide for me,
If only I trust You, and obey.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times are still in Your hands.
I will believe You for my future,
chapter by chapter, until all the story is written.
Focus my mind and my heart upon You,
my attention always on You without alteration.
Strengthen me with Your blessing,
and appoint to me the task.
Teach me to live with eternity in view,
Tune my spirit into the music of heaven,
Feed me, and, somehow,
make my obedience count for You.