URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 12th April 2023 St Aiden

Wednesday 12 April 2023  St Aiden (590-651)


St Aidan was an Irish monk, and a member of the monastic community on Iona. When the community first sent Cormán from their monastery to evangelise Northumbria at King Oswald’s request, the mission failed. Cormán returned testily blaming the hard-heartedness and obstinacy of the Northumbrians. In their meeting Aidan suggested that maybe the mission had failed because the evangelist had not built up a positive relationship, and that a softer and more gentle, companiable approach might work better.  As Aidan shared his insight, Bede tells of how all eyes turned to Aidan, and they all realised he had talked himself into being the next monk to honour the King’s invitation to go and share the love of God in Christ in Northumbria. 
photo from the Diocese of Westminster Youth Ministry

James 2: 14 – 17 

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Surely that faith cannot save, can it? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.


Aidan’s predecessor, obedient and faithful though he was, had proved to be a square peg in a round hole.  An Aidan-shaped space needed to be filled, and together in council on Iona the right discernment flowed, and Aidan became a much-loved presence and effective evangelist working from the monastic community on Lindisfarne.  Unlike his predecessor, Aidan had the confidence to let the Gospel settle into the relationships and lives he shared with those around him, rather than imposing formulaic conformity.

He was a non-conformist himself and would not be moulded by any socio-economic force that would compromise his calling.  For example, Aidan taught, travelled, and visited on foot, not on the King’s gift of a magnificent horse with all its expensive royal tack, which Aidan gave away to a beggar, much to the King’s consternation.  Aidan lived according to the truth that God’s economy is not the same as that of this world. He understood how God’s mission would not be facilitated by himself hanging on to the seductive trappings of royal patronage: he was called to reach the people God had led him to be among.  It was an edgy and reckless act in view of his powerful patron, but Aidan was sure-footed in his repost to the King’s displeasure when he challenged him, “What are you saying, your majesty? Is this child of a mare more valuable to you than this child of God?” (Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People).

Speaking truth to power, refusing to be conformed to worldly values, engaged daily in close quarter missional activity rather than arms-length management from the King’s fortress at Bamburgh, Aidan’s edgy ministry of presence was incarnational and authentic, and won over the hearts of many with both his authenticity and a missional heart, keen to share God’s love in Christ through everyday acts of compassion, understanding, and love.


God before us, alongside us, and ahead of us,
Keep us true to your call.
Forgive our easy compromises.
By your grace and the discernment of sisters and brothers around us,
Help us to find the right-shaped space for us in which we can
Effectively, authentically, and naturally, share the good news of your love in the world.
By your Holy Spirit, like Aidan, keep us compassionate, understanding, patient and generous.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dave Herbert is Moderator of the Northern Synod


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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