The Picts - A New Fellowship Of Peoples

I had two days off. So I headed to northern Scotland to learn more about the Picts of the first millennium. Their symbols are intriguing. Their jewellery is wonderful. Their raw animal sculptures are superb. The power of place in their strongholds is awesome. Their large scale conversion to Christ's ways is monumental. Their resulting absorption into one fellowship of once warring peoples is a parable for our times.

I focussed on three places by the fast flowing river Tay: Abernethy, Dunkeld and Meigle. The Meigle Heritage Centre. beside the site of the ancient Pictish church, has a fine collection of carved Pictish stones.

We have long known that Christian missionaries such as Ninian and Columba evangelised the Picts. But archaeology now reveals the extent of monastic communities that flourished from the sixth and seventh centuries such as Portmahomack, Donna's place in the Inner Hebrides and Mael-Ruba's foundation at Applecross.

Bede writes this in the first chapter of his chronicle of Britain: ‘There are in the island at present, following the number of the books in which the Divine Law was written, five languages of different nations employed in the study and confession of the one self-same knowledge, which is of highest truth and true sublimity, to wit, English, British, Scottish, Pictish, and Latin, the last having become common to all by the study of the Scriptures' (EH Book 1.1).

The Pictish part of Britain voted to remain in the European Union, with its Christian foundations devoted to sustaining peace and well-being among once warring peoples. Fragmentation within Europe and within the United Kingdom is feared. I write in St. Aidan's Way of Mission published this week: 'There is a vital role for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland in making real a heart union of these peoples; leadership in the spirit of Aidan can make a difference. Countries anywhere may reach their full flower if, freed from bitterness, victimhood and false self-sufficiency, they embrace that Aidan spirit that seeks to make other peoples great.'

How timely then that my phone rang. My Irish friend Trevor Sullivan, who first suggested that Churches Together in Britain and Ireland be established, feels that CTBI could play a crucial role in building up that fellowship between peoples in our post Brexit time - but it needs church leaders to take inspired leadership through this framework. So we are composing a letter to send to some of those leaders. Can you, too, play a part? This sort of initiative is needed in many lands - Turkey, USA... you name it.

Posted at 01:53am on 21st July 2016
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