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Saturday, February 28–Made of God

  • Posted on Feb 28, 2009

Made of God

So God created humankind: in the image of God he created them. Genesis 1:27

Yesterday evening, eleven Memorialites and friends traveled to St James’, Monkton to hear Philip Newell speak about Celtic Spirituality. Philip Newell was formerly the Warden of the Iona Community in Scotland and currently is a retreat leader and writer who spends time in Edinburgh, Scotland and Casa del Sol at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. In a far-ranging talk on the Celtic ways, his words were a perfect beginning to a Lenten journey to know and embrace oneself.

Instead of seeing the human condition as “fallen,” the Celtic tradition honors the divine that lives at the heart of the human condition. As Julian of Norwich said, we are “made of God, not by God.” Newell spoke about how the doctrine of original sin made popular by the work of Augustine has done much damage to humanity and the world throughout human history. For centuries, certain Christian traditions make us feel unworthy in so many unhealthy ways. We feel so unworthy that the very thought of undertaking a Lenten discipline of self- study seems oppressive. Instead of bringing us closer to God, we feel even further away. The Celtic tradition gives us another way of seeing the human relationship to God. Instead of being “saved” by God’s grace, Celtic father Pelagius says that “the medicine of grace reconnects us to ourself” and thus to the divine within. This is the way I approach Lent–as a way to reconnect to God, not as a way to beat myself up further for repeated shortcomings.

More on this tomorrow in the Sunday sermon. Penitence is not about self-loathing, but about turning to what is deepest and first in us as humans–the beauty and love of God. Once we discover that we are made in the image of God, we have the strength to turn away from all those places in our lives that separate us from the love of God.

Text: Genesis 1:27
Pondering: Has Lent been a place of self-loathing for you?