St Aidan Story: Castle Lessons
Some of these Angles did not want to lose their old ways and their old traditions. More than once he had been reminded that the name Oswald meant ‘Woden’s ruler’, and that the king was said to be descended from the god Woden. Aidan tried to tell them that they were all sons and daughters of God; not only did the king come from God, we all come from God. Everyone is important, for all are children of God.
In this openness and interchange, one of the thanes [nobles] told Aidan of an old tradition concerning Wode. It said of him: I hung on a wind-blown tree for nine nights and days, I was pierced by a spear and given to Woden, myself given to myself. Aidan could hardly believe what he heard, it sounded so much like the crucifixion. He talked long of the Christ who died on the tree, of the three-day burial and the mighty resurrection. Aidan told how this Christ was a mighty warrior, how he also was pierced with a spear, how he triumphed over the evil one and conquered the great enemy, death.
At the mention of defeating death, the thanes wanted to hear more, and so did others who were in the hall at the time. . . Aidan thrilled at their desire for learning and their openness to the gospel. . .
‘We are not afraid to lay down our lives for our king’, the warriors boasted, ‘This is the highest honour, to die for him we serve.’ Aidan was moved by the simple heroics of these men. He told them how he too served a King and was willing to die for Him. He told of how many disciples had laid down their lives for this King. Christ the King asks for our loyalty and obedience. Aidan told of how his group from Iona called themselves ‘soldiers of Christ’. He told how they had pledged themselves to withdraw from ordinary life and live on camp, ever ready to go out on mission. The measure of his men’s obedience was ‘even unto death’. They would go on a moment’s notice on long journeys across savage country. They braved wild animals and fierce people, all for the love of God, They would continue until the kingdoms of the world became the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
. . . Aidan continued to tell how his King had laid down his own life for us. Just as Oswald’s men expected their leader to die fighting, so the Christ had died for all peoples. If he had so chosen he could have escaped, but for love he gave his life for all. In dying, he won a kingdom for his followers. So Christians have a definite purpose for living, to serve Christ and to live to the glory of God in doing His will. They also have a definite reward. Soldiers on earth can only be rewarded if the king is the victor. Christ has won the victory, and the reward is that we are given the kingdom of heaven. Life is eternal, man is free, for Christ has won the victory.
This extract is taken from 'Flame of the Heart' by David Adam and is reproduced by kind permission of SPCK. You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flame-Heart-St-Aidan-Today/dp/0281050333.