30th June

Look For The Ancient Way

‘Stand at the cross-roads,’ says the Lord, ‘and look for the ancient way; ask for the good way and take it; so shall you be safe and prosper.’ Jeremiah 6:16

How wonderful it is to walk with God
Along the road which holy men have trod.
Theodore H. Kitching

Picture Branwalader sailing into the sweeping, golden bay. He and his monks beach the boat, walk to an incline, and there kneel in prayer. Some local Jersey fishermen, who share with them the perils and skills of the sea, become believers, and a place of prayer is built on that hill beside what is now St Brelade’s Bay.

Branwalader, whose name in Welsh means Raven Lord, is known in French as Brelade. He was said to be the son of Kenen, a Cornish king. Renowned as ‘a star’, he forsook his fame and fortune for the life of a wandering missionary monk. He most likely trained at the Welsh monastery at Llantwit Major where Samson was a fellow pupil. These two were to work together in Ireland, Cornwall, the Channel Isles and Brittany. To this day there is a church of St Samson in Guernsey and of St Brelade in Jersey. When the North men laid waste the Breton church where the earthly remains of these two saints were kept, King Athelstan brought them for safe keeping, still together, to his monastery at Milton Abbas, on this day in 935.

The Channel Islands have attracted people of prayer in all ages. Many pilgrims come to the Fisherman’s Chapel where Branwalader first prayed, and sense a return to ancient ways. In contrast to much of fragmented Christendom, the different strands of the church – biblical, catholic, charismatic, mystical, socially concerned, ecumenical – are being woven together in a holy Celtic pattern and prayer. The wonderful thing is that we can become part of such a weaving too.

God’s love is around us like the sea round an island
And we stand secure on the rocks of our faith.
He has given his word like a beacon to guide us
His love is a harbour in which we are safe.
All glory to God our leader and captain
All praise to the Son, our guide and our light
All praise to the Spirit – the wind and the power
All honour and praise and glory and might
Susan Halliwell and Jenny Cornwall of St. Brelade