Sunday, June 29, 2008

Repent! (a story for all ye vile and filthy sinners)

A story to illustrate yesterday's post on repentance:

Say for instance you wanted someone to live a missional life--that is, a life given over to the mission of God to redeem everyone and everything (which in other words, simply means to follow Jesus); to turn from their inward curve and focus outside themselves on the things and people God loves.

To do that, you are inviting them to live in a new paradigm. Inviting them to repent of their old paradigm. So how do you do that? Yell at them? Tell them you are right and they are wrong? Guilt them into change? Quote bible verses at them? Engage in subtle verbal manipulation to get them to agree with you? I don't know of a better means than story. In a story, I can see myself and also see other ways to be myself.

Here's one story that did just that for me. Maybe it will for you too. It comes from this blog about St Aidan, the Bishop of Northumbria, a Celtic Missionary in the 600's on the northeastern coast of England and is an entry in the Missional Synchronous blog hosted by Rick Meigs.

BlockquoteOne of the best known stories of Aidan’s focus came when King Oswald’s successor, Oswin, gave Aidan a fine mare from the royal stables as a gift. The mare was intended to ease Aidan’s travels and make him more efficient in his evangelization of Northumbria. Aidan received the horse, and promptly gave it to the first poor family that he met on the road. Oswin heard this story and enraged, confronted Aidan.

The historian Bede tells us of the encounter:
The King asked the bishop as they were going in to dine, ‘My Lord Bishop, why did you give away the royal horse which was necessary for your own use? Have we not many less valuable horses or other belongings which would have been good enough for beggars, without giving away a horse that I had specifically selected for your personal use?’ The bishop at once answered, ‘What are you saying, Your Majesty? Is this child of a mare more valuable to you than this child of God?’”

King Oswin in humility agreed with Aidan and said that he would never again challenge how Aidan spent his resources in service to the poor.

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