Hespeler, 9 September, 2018 © Scott McAndless
John 3:1-17, 1 John 2:21-25, Psalm 27
here was once a king in Northumbria (in the northern part of England) – an Anglo-Saxon king named Edwin. And Edwin was a pagan – a worshipper of the old Germanic gods like Thor and Wodin. But Edwin married a half Frankish princess who just happened to be a Christian and that is where all the trouble started.
His new queen brought some Christian priests with her and they insisted on constantly preaching the Christian message. But the king resisted that message. What need had he for a God like Jesus Christ – a defeated God, a weak God – and not a strong warrior god like the ones that his ancestors had worshipped?
But the priests persisted. They were very insistent. And so eventually the king convened a meeting of his closest advisors. They gathered in the king’s mead-hall in the dead of winter. They drank the king’s potent mead (which, in case you don’t know, is brewed from fermented honey – yum!) and they talked about whether or not it was prudent to do what the priests were urging them to do. The discussion went on and on with very few viable reasons being offered to take the step of conversion and baptism. But eventually they decided that they would do it. They would convert – they and all Northumbria with them – creating the first beachhead for Christianity in Northern England.
And do you know what it was that tipped the scales for Christianity – why they decided that that was the way to go? Was it because they thought that Jesus was more powerful than the old gods? No, in all honesty I suspect that they saw Jesus as laughably weak compared to Thor. (I mean, Jesus never made it into The Avengers.) Was it the benefits that might come from Christian learning and literacy? No, they had little time for such things. What convinced them was something that an unnamed courtier said. A sparrow flew through the mead-hall. It flew in out of the cold and snow through one door, swooped over the bemused royal gathering a few times and then out another door and back into the ice and darkness.