The Divine Spark by Steve Morris
The author's passion is to introduce aspects of Celtic spirituality into the routines of contemporary worship
The Divine Spark - Why Celtic Wisdom Can Refresh The Church Today
By Steve Morris
Reviewed by the Revd Dr Martin M’Caw
The Divine Spark is not an academic analysis of Celtic theology. Steve Morris, the vicar of St. Cuthbert’s in North Wembley, pays homage to the world of Celtic Christianity, recognising the primitive years of the middle ages are in stark contrast to the hectic suburban 21st century living with demanding commuter business life persistently chasing the clock, or the lonely life of poverty-stricken families and isolated elderly people stuck on the 19th floor of high-rise flats.
Celtic Christians were aware of their closeness to the natural world but did not separate nature and faith. F. S. Pierpoint, a Victorian classics master, perhaps unwittingly, captures the essence of Celtic spirituality in his hymn:
For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Father, unto you we raise
This our sacrifice of praise
Steve Morris reminds us that for all their closeness to the natural world the Celts were not tree-huggers. They were strongly trinitarian with a clear focus on Jesus: the King of the elements, the working shepherd of the sheep, the leader of the angelic hosts, and the lamb of God displaying the full paradox of the incarnate God.
The passion of Steve Morris is to introduce aspects of Celtic spirituality into the routines of contemporary worship, whether they be at the Anglo-Catholic ritualistic end of the ecclesiastic spectrum through to the contemporary all singing dancing end of charismatic evangelicalism.
Celtic spirituality is thoughtful and reflective, allowing moments of quiet that stimulate individual worship, whether it be through a slot in normal services, or a full Celtic service like those held regularly at St. Cuthbert’s. He writes, ‘The fact that we did not have to make up prayers on the spot liberated everyone to inhabit the ancient prayers for themselves’.
He adds that their services without a sermon ‘enable time to listen and think and with the words of deep and ancient faith, have unearthed the riches of silence and contemplation.’
St. Cuthnert’s are not fully signed up Celtic Christians but their exposure to ‘this spirituality has been wonderful and we do commend it.’
Wherever you place yourselves on the ecclesiastic and theological spectrum, I thoroughly recommend this book. You’ll be spiritually richer for it.
I’ll close this review with a traditional Irish blessing which is a favourite at St. Cuthbert’s:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
The Revd Dr Martin M’Caw (Retired Baptist Minister. Wing Chaplain No.2 Welsh Wing RAF cadets. Retired)