Here is an exciting invitation from Greg Valerio to come and celebrate the Celtic Easter date at Whitby – will be the first time that will have taken place since 664AD.
Celtic Easter Celebration
As many of you will be aware on the 27th April 2008 a small group of us from the south coast met on Selsey beach close to Church Norton at sunrise to break bread, pray to together and to celebrate the Celtic Easter. Our motivation for doing this was in recognition that God is moving again in our land with fire in a similar way to our indigenous fathers and mothers of old that lived under the Celtic rite.
On that morning we called for the wild fire of heaven to burn again in our lives and in these islands that we live on. We recognised that the institutional control that has so dominated and stifled the work of the Holy Spirit in the church in this country is starting to unstitch and that God is breathing a new freedom upon his people. It was a call to the margins, where the land meets the sea and where the mountains meet the sky, a recognition that we are called to dwell in the deep intimate place with the Trinity and to allow God to have full and unfettered control of His/her people once again. No conditions, no agenda, no control, no programme, just the wild love of God burning in our hearts.
The location for this event was important to us. Church Norton near Selsey was an HQ of Wilfrid first Bishop of Selsey and Chichester. It was Wilfrid who despite his schooling in the Celtic way under Columba at Iona, following a pilgrimage to Rome, fell in love with the grandeur and institutional organisation of the Roman Church and returned with the mission of subduing the Celtic Church’s uniqueness and freedom by bringing it into line with the Roman Rite and the rest of what he called Christendom. In AD664 at the Synod of Whitby the Celtic Churches unique personality in God was usurped by the Roman tradition and their spirituality was all but suppressed. This suppression was manifested in three distinct ways.
- The celebration and dating of Easter. The rhythm of the Celtic Churches unique spirituality based on the Desert Fathers was marginalised by the institutional structure of a more Diocesan rigid model.
- The tonsure (haircut) of monks. The roman rite had the hair cut with a bald crown in imitation of the crown of thorns whilst the Celtic rite had the hair cut over the crown from ear to ear and shaved forward and long at the back in the way of the bards and druids.
- The segregation of the monasteries and abbeys, those under the Celtic way were free to be mixed sex as well as single sex. Hilda of Whitby famously hosted the Council that oversaw the undermining of her unique mixed sex community.
We felt called to stand on the same beach that Wilfrid did and declare we are returning to the ancient Christ centred rhythm of our islands for the sake of the future of these islands. This was both a symbolic act of solidarity with our ancient history and a cry from our hearts for God to move again with wild Holy Fire in our land. This standing together was not about being Celtic, it was about recognising that Jesus must be at the centre of our lives. This is about Jesus in the raw, not a dilution of Jesus through the Institution.
In 2009 the Celtic Church would have celebrated (as many of our brothers and sisters will in the east) Easter on the 19th April. I am delighted to say that English Heritage have agreed to a celebration within the grounds of Whitby Abbey on the morning of the 19th April starting at 9am.
Therefore we are calling for all our friends in Christ who have journeyed together and those who are yet to find each other in the presence of God, to celebrate, perhaps for the first time since AD664 on this site, our love of Jesus of Nazareth and all that he did for us, his resurrection on Easter morning, break bread and to call again with one heart, one spirit and one voice for these Islands on the western edge of Europe to blaze again with the glory of God, for the angels to ascend and descend at will and for his Kingdom to be manifest in our lives without control. The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come’.
Below is part of a prayer I wrote for our time in Selsey this year 2008. I believe its point is obvious.
Father Son and Holy Spirit,
Today we call for
Inspiration over Institution
Boats over buildings
Poverty over Riches
Creation over concrete
Intercession over liturgy
Common sense over dogma
Imagination of bureaucracy
Music and Psalms over Noise.
Prophecy over preaching.
Mystery over certainty
Father Son and Holy Spirit,
Today we call for
The unblocking of ancient wells
The wild fires of heaven to burn in us brightly
For angels to be ascending and descending
For signs and wonders occurring
For the air to be thin where we place our feet
For the Holy Fire in the land to rise again
And for us to live where the land meets the sea
And the mountains meet the sky.
I therefore invite anyone with whom this message draws a resonance to join us at 9am on the 19th April 2009 Whitby Abbey to break bread, worship, pray and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Spectators and those with a religious spirit may find this an uncomfortable morning.
Practically English Heritage has agreed to open the Whitby Site from 8.30 in the morning. There will be an entrance fee of £4.25. The public will be allowed onto the site from 10am so they are free to join us if God has not finished with us.
If you are planning on coming please reply to email@example.com so I can let the staff at the Abbey have some idea of numbers.
Please forward this to as many people as you believe would be interested, All are welcome its our future.
In Christ Jesus,