Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

PATRONAL FESTIVAL - 20th September 2020

20 Sep 2020, midnight

PATRONAL FESTIVAL - 20th September 2020

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth & the thoughts and meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you Lord, our strength and our redeemer.

A word from Lucy: This Sunday is our Patronal Festival when we call to mind our Patron Saints: St Matthew and St Chad. The story of St Matthew is well documented in the Gospel’s and we learn lots about St Matthew from what he wrote about in the Gospel that is named after him. Details about our other Patron Saint, St Chad, is recorded in the work of the Venerable Bede. Today it has been traditional to speak about St Matthew and to omit St Chad because his feast day is on 2 March. However, as today is our Patronal festival Sunday and our Chapel was dedicated to St Chad on the Feast of St Matthew, I feel it is appropriate to commemorate St Chad today.

Chad and his brother Cedd lived in the 7th Century AD. Both were educated under the founding Abbot, St Aidan at the great abbey of Lindisfarne on Holy Island, off the coast of Northumbria. Later Chad studied with St Egbert in a monastery in Ireland, before being recalled to England by his brother Cedd, to assist in establishing the monastery of Lastingham in North Yorkshire. After Cedd died, Chad succeeded him as the 2nd second abbot of Lastingham and at the request of the King of Northumbria, was also consecrated as Bishop of the Northumbrians with his seat in York. This consecration was controversial and caused an ecclesiastical dispute because another person, named St Wilfrid, had already been chosen and consecrated as Bishop of York. So the new archbishop of Canterbury, charged Chad with improper ordination. In humility, Chad resigned his role as Bishop and returned to Lastingham. This so impressed the Archbishop that when the Bishop of Mercia died, St Theodore asked the King of Mercia to appoint Chad as Bishop. This appointment was approved and Chad was re-consecrated and chose Lichfield as the new seat of his diocese. Chad built both a church and monastery in Lichfield and in the last three years of his life also founded a monastery in Lindsey. At the age of only 36, Chad died of plague in the year 672AD, in Lichfield, in the ancient kingdom of Mercia, England. After Chad’s death, numerous miracles were reported as having taken place at his tomb in the Cathedral of Lichfield. Chad’s relics were later saved by Roman Catholics during the Reformation and transferred to St. Chad’s Cathedral, in Birmingham.

In summary, Chad is referred to as Chad of Mercia and remembered as a prominent travelling Anglo-Saxon churchman. Chad was a zealous apostle, an abbot, a founder of several monasteries, Bishop of the Northumbrians, Bishop of the Mercians and Lindsey People, and the first bishop of Lichfield. Chad and his brother Cedd are both credited with introducing Christianity to the ancient English kingdom of Mercia. Both were canonised as saints and both are considered saints in the Roman Catholic, Celtic, Orthodox and Anglican church denominations.

Over the last 6 years, I have spiritually walked in the footsteps of St Chad by: visiting Holy Island for retreats; and making pilgrimage to York, Lastingham and Lichfield. All I now need to do to complete my spiritual walk is to visit St Chad’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, which I would already have done had we not been encompassed by the Pandemic. Today as we give thanks for both of our Patron Saints, I am reminded that we have much to learn from both Matthew and Chad. Chad is important to us because he was an Anglo-Saxon who lived most of his life in England. Chad is important to us because he took his call to spread the gospel in an unchurched land very seriously. Chad is also important to us in this year of the Pandemic, because he understood the plight of the world we are now in because he lived and died during the time of Plague.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, whose son, our Lord Jesus, took the form of a servant for the sake of his brothers and sisters: Strengthen us with the prayers and example of your servant Chad, who became the least of all to minister to all; Adapted prayer of the Diocese of Lichfield | The Community of St Chad Be with us, Lord, as we seek to follow in the footsteps of your servant Chad, whose humility and prayerfulness attracted so many to your kingdom. Let our lives, like his, reflect the light of Christ and the hope of faith. Amen

Prayer of blessing May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.

Closing Note This message is sent to you with love and prayers as: a word of encouragement and a sign of hope as we live the new normal