Saturday, 6 August 2011

An Exciting God - and Cuthbert

I have been reading about Cuthbert who was clearly an amazing character. There are some fascinating stories about him. David Adam in The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, using Bede as a source, retells the story of Cuthbert and a young monk walking beside the River Teviot, reciting psalms and sections of Scripture. As they were passing an outlying farmstead they were offered a meal, but Cuthbert declined, offering the explanation that they were fasting. However, he shared the Gospel with the family and offered them a blessing. The two then left for the hill country. When they had gone a good distance, Cuthbert asked his young companion where he thought they would find food for the day. The boy was at a loss, but Cuthbert encouraged him saying: ‘The Lord will provide for us today, as he always does.’ He then pointed to an eagle – ‘See that bird flying high above us. It is possible for God to refresh us by the ministrations of the eagle.’ The young man didn’t really understand what Cuthbert was suggesting, but they then saw the eagle settle on the bank with a fish. ‘Run and see what food the eagle has brought us from the Lord.’ The young man went and returned with a large fish. Cuthbert reprimanded him for not sharing it with their provider, telling him to cut it in half and take the eagle her share. He then said that they still had more than they needed and should seek out a poor household with whom they could share the fish. Possibly a little reluctantly, the young companion agreed – and they continued until they found such a household to who they presented the fish. The family broiled the fish and they all shared the fish as Cuthbert shared the Gospel with them. This is the kind of story that was typical of Cuthbert. Adam notes (p. 53): “In telling this story, Bede would be well aware of its symbolic meaning: the eagle was the symbol for St. John’s Gospel and the fish, in Greek ichthus, was a code name for ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour’.

It all links well with that my parallel reading the first six and a half verses of Revelation 4 and Peter Hicks’ comments on them. I particularly like his comment on verse 5 – “The throne of God is where everything happens. It’s so exciting there, it’s like sitting on a volcano about to erupt. Our God is a God who does big and glorious things.”

I am not sure I want to be sitting on a volcano that is about to erupt – but I know that God is an exciting God!

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