The Answer To The Rat Race
Jesus said ‘When you are invited to a celebration do not sit down in the best place. It may be that someone more important than you has been invited… Instead, when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that your host will come up and say “Come on up, my friend, to a better place”’. Luke 14: 8, 10
Chad, though he was probably the youngest of four brothers who trained under Aidan at Lindisfarne, was also the brightest. This never went to his head, and he was always a model of humility. He went over to Ireland for his ‘further education’. When his brother Cedd, who was Abbot of Lastingham, died, Chad was sent back to Northumbria to take his place as abbot. There he became known as an admirable teacher, though he also encouraged a recruit who arrived one day, wanting to do practical work but no book work.
The king of the Northumbrians, Oswy, had gone along with the appointment of a monk named Wilfred as Bishop of the Northumbrians. But Wilfred was so mesmerised by the practices and pomp of the Roman style of church life that he went to the continent to be ‘properly’ consecrated, and stayed on and on, leaving the post back home vacant. Oswy became restive and eventually asked Chad to fill the vacant post.
Chad was Bishop of the Northumbrians for three years until 669. Then the Bishop of Rome sent the powerful Theodore of Tarsus to be Archbishop of Canterbury and to bring the English Church into line with standard Roman organisation. Theodore explained to Chad that his consecration as bishop had not met these norms. Chad replied that he had never considered himself worthy to be a bishop in the first place, and that he was willing to resign, which he did in favour of Wilfred.
His genuine humility and holiness made such an impression on Theodore that he re-consecrated him as a bishop, and, when the Bishop of Mercia died, asked Chad to take his place. On one point Theodore was firm. Chad, like Aidan, loved to evangelise by walking everywhere, and he refused to ride about on a horse. Mercia, however, was a huge diocese, so Theodore not only ordered him to use a horse, but physically lifted him on to a horse with his own hands!
Servant King –
be king of my hearth and king of my heart
be king of my hands and king of my head
be king of my shoes and king of my style.