Hilda was born in 614 of the royal house of Northumbria. Baptised in York at the age of twelve by the Roman missionary Paulinus, she was later an influential lay leader of the Church. She was encouraged by Aidan of Lindisfarne to take monastic vows, and subsequently established a monastery at Whitby. This house became a great centre of learning and was the meeting-place for the important Synod of Whitby in the year 664 at which Hilda’s rôle was that of a reconciler between the Roman and the Celtic traditions. She is remembered as a great educator. She died on 17 November in the year 680.
Ephesians 4. 1-6
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Unity does not just happen, we have to work at it. In the United Reformed Church, unity is one of the core values and the gift it offers to the wider Body of Christ; unity with our brother and sister, unity with other denominations and unity with those people who we find it difficult to love, yet in Christ, all are one body.
Often differences among people can lead to division. Instead of focussing on what divides us, we should remember what unites us:
No one is ever going to be perfect here on earth, so we must accept and love other Christians in spite of their faults. This is difficult when we see and hear Christians in the media, who are directly in opposition to the Gospel values, and instead adhere to the “prosperity gospel” where the poor never get a mention.
Unity is one of the Spirit’s gifts and, where She leads, we must be willing to follow. Each person has a special ability to strengthen the whole Body. This is the essence of Hilda’s ministry here on earth. In the midst of a world where women were struggling to find a foothold, Hilda came with her intellect, wit and wisdom to bring unity to a group of believers who needed a role model, and to unite two opposing cultures.
Paul challenges each one of us today to live, worthy of the name ’Christian’ meaning Christ’s one. This includes being humble, gentle, patient, understanding and peaceful. People are watching how you live your life.
Can people see Christ in you?
Through the turmoil and through the celebration; Christ, where you lead, I will follow.
Through the fear and through the hope; Christ, where you lead, I will follow.
Through the division and through the unity; Christ, where you lead, I will follow.
Through the hurt and through the joy; Christ, where you lead, I will follow. Amen
The Rev’d Ruth Dillon is minister at Fleet URC and Beacon Hill URC Hindhead in the Wessex Synod.