Has Humility Died?

Gwynfor Evans in his paperback “Land of my Fathers” states how disagreement broke out between the churches in Wales and those in England. A Christian mission under the eldership of Augustine of Kent came to England in 527, He received a welcome there from Ethelbert, King of Kent. and an invitation was issued to the Celtic church  to send a delegation to meet Augustine. The invite was accepted and a conference was held.

The purpose of the congress from Augustine’s point of view was to get the Welsh to lay aside the distinctive use of baptism, among other things and accept him as Archbishop of Canterbury. A further conference was held to clarify things, this time the Welsh consulted a wise hermit, the advice he gave was this. “If he is a man of God,” said the hermit, about Augustine, “follow him” and here is the sign that you will know whether he is a man of God or not. The Hermit quoted Matthews gospel, “shoulder my yoke and learn fo me for I am gentle and humble in heart.” If he were gentle and humble in heart he should be followed, if he were proud and severe, Christian truth was not in him and his leadership should not be accepted” that is, he could not be recognised as their archbishop.

How were they to make such a judgement though. The hermit suggested that he and his companions should arrive first. If he gets to his feet when you come to him, listen humbly to him for he is a servant of God, but if he scorns you by remaining seated and not rising when you arrive..then you shall greet him with contempt.

Augustine did not rise to greet them and the Welsh did not accept him as Archbishop. It is true, those who lead of God will like God, humble shelves to serve others. The mark of a king is discovered in his ability to serve.  The Man who is too big to help a man lesser than he is too big for the position of king and too ignorant for the title of servant. Even today the rule applies to those who call themselves archbishops and prophets and other grande titles, let those who lead be your servants … first!

Land of my Fathers by Gwynfor Evans p110-111. published by Y Lalfa Cyf, Cardigan, Wales. 1992

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