Celtic Christianity Today Homily “The Cost and Joy of Discipleship” by Rev. Dr. George Cairns
(Valparaiso, Indiana) – Rev. Dr. George Cairns of Chesterton, Indiana delivers a Sunday homily entitled The Cost and Joy of Discipleship on May 3, 2009 at the Union Community Church in Valparaiso, Indiana.
The homilies on Celtic Christianity take a look at several topics including the European roots of the Celts (primarily Scotland and Ireland) and how Earth-based cultures can impact the future of civilization including actively protecting the environment, respecting fellow humans, different cultures and nature.
Union Community Church
Cairns is working closely with Rev. Gregory Jones on several social fronts.
Rev. Jones is the pastor of the Union Community Church and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University.
Turtle Island Project logo
Founded in 2007, the non-profit Turtle Island Project is known for its ongoing work with Native American issues – and the other wing involves other Earth-based religions like the Celts. Dr. Cairns is the co-founder of the nonprofit Turtle Island Project.
Rev. Dr. George Cairns
Rev. Cairns continues to work closely with the foremost Celtic group in the world, the Iona Community in Scotland that is a dispersed Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship.
Cairns is a research professor of Practical Theology and Spirituality at Chicago Theological Seminary, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and lives in Chesterton, Indiana.
Cairns recently completed a six-part “contemplative reading and discussion” of Philip Newell’s book “Christ of the Celts” at the Union Community Church.
Cairns and his wife, Nancy, recently hosted a conference on Celtic Spirituality, Ecology, and Participative Consciousness.
Dr. Cairns says:
Celtic Christianity is a strand of the Christian tradition which developed during the middle of the first millennium. Its full flowering in Ireland and Scotland continued for several hundred years before it was incorporated into the dominant church as many of its traditions were lost or suppressed.
There are two major reasons for this recovery and reconstruction of Celtic Christian practical theology for the church today: Church Renewal & Engaging and transforming the genocide and ecocide taking place today.
We are concerned that our current individual and systemic western consciousness is disembodied and ill. We believe that this process started several thousand years ago in the late Paleolithic. We are not trying to turn back the clock to the Stone Age. But we do know that a change in consciousness must begin if our planet and we are to survive.
What we have lost is participative consciousness, which understands that our lives are profoundly related to the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of all of creation. Another way of putting this is that we are completely relational beings. Reconnection with all of creation as sacred and responsive and alive is our great task in the early 21st century.
We have living guides to help us such as Celtic Spirituality, Native American Spirituality and post-modern science. I believe we need to integrate the profound gifts of these resources and open ourselves to deepen our relationships with all of creation.
email Rev. Dr. George Cairns, Founder of Celtic Christianity Today
Related websites and information:
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Artwork of Saint Columba from Wikipedia shows: Saint Columba, Apostle to the Picts
Source: Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall, Scotland’s Story
Created in 1906 illustrator John R. Skelton
Copyright expired but credit given in the spirit of Celtic Christianity.
Iona Island (Scotland) topographical map
Iona Abbey photo from Wikipedia
The copyright on this image is owned by John Naisbitt and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
Old Iona Map from Wikipedia:
This is an image that has come from a book or document for which the American copyright has expired and this image is in the public domain in the United States and possibly other countries.
Iona, showing the sites of the monasteries and abbey
Source: Celtic Scotland, p.100
Author: William Forbes Skene in 1887
August 1983 wide panorama shot of Iona Island from Wikipedia:
Iona Island, Scotland, view from the Fionnphort-Iona ferry:
This image has been released into the public domain by its author, Dr. Torsten Henning, who grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.
Coracle boats on Wikipedia: Photo shows small coracle from Wales:
This image has been (or is hereby) released into the public domain by its author, LinguisticDemographer at the Wikipedia Project. This applies worldwide.
Author Ian Bradley biography of Saint Columba:
Photo of Stained Glass Window of Saint Columba in St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh Castle from Rampant Scotland Website:
Saint Columba & Celtic Spirituality websites:
Contemplative Prayer or Centering Prayer:
Centering prayer/contemplative prayer & Thomas Keating:
Photos of Father Thomas Keating in Texas by marimelch on flickr
Rev. Dr. George Cairns at Sept. 2007 Conference on Centering Prayer in Munising, MI:
On September 20, 2007, Rev. Cairns gave a presentation on centering prayer also known as contemplative prayer in Munising, Michigan at the first non-profit Turtle Island Project regional conference.
The Scotland-based Iona community is a good example of a group of people “who are unified by a covenant, worship together and who engage in very effective political action to change structural evil.”
Rev. Cairns said “centering prayer” and “participative consciousness” that are techniques of deep meditation he learned from Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk and teacher. (Trappist refers to a branch of the Cistercian order of monks known for an austere rule including a vow of silence.)
“Silent meditation is a powerful tool to open ourselves to one another and to all creation which is what this participative consciousness is all about,” said Cairns, TIP co-founder and board president.
Cairns said the intense form of meditation helps eliminate the “internal dialogue” or “chatter that’s going on all the time” in people’s minds.
“I found out how much of my life was consumed by internal dialogue,” said Cairns, research professor of theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Centering prayer allows “us to open our hearts to a deeper relationship with God and an increased openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives,” said Rev. Cairns, admitting it’s an easier technique to teach than for people to learn and practice.
“The technique to doing it – is simply to rest with God. It’s not easy to do, it’s easy to teach, but very difficult to do,” Cairns said.
In fighting the world’s evil, Cairns said “we can’t get their with just our hearts – we need our heads and something more.”