On the 5th October we are celebrating St Chad, to whom our church is dedicated. He is one of the lesser known saints, but is an interesting and inspiring figure.
Most of what we know about him is through the writings and records of the Venerable Bede, who got his information from the monks at Lastingham and his tutor named Trumbert.
These were all people who had personally known him. Chad was born around 634 and it is thought that he came from Northumbrian nobility. He was one of four brothers, who were all active in the church.
The only other thing we know about his early life was that he was a student of St Aiden at the celtic monastery at Lindisfarne. Later he travelled to Ireland where he continued his education before he was ordained as a priest.
In 664 he succeeded his brother as Abbot of the monastery at Lastingham. Later he was ordained Bishop of York and finally he became bishop of Mercia and Lindsey, a very large area of central England and Lincolnshire.
The King of Mercia gave him land for a monastery at Lichfield. Chad travelled great distances and carried out much missionary and pastoral work within the kingdom.
He was a very devout and humble man and laid much emphasis on prayer and study of the scriptures. He died in 672 on the 2nd of March (St Chad’s Day but also surprisingly the birthday of the previous vicar of St. Chad’s Church John Routh now vicar of Holy Trinity Sutton Coldfield (www.htsc.org.uk ) and the vicar before him, Peter Watts).
Chad was buried at the Church of St Mary, which later became part of Lichfield Cathedral. In ‘Common Worship – Daily Prayer,’ there is a special prayer which we could use in October, along with our own prayers.
Here it is:
Almighty God, from the first fruits of the English nation who turned to Christ, you called your servant Chad to be an evangelist and bishop of his own people: give us grace so to follow his peaceable nature, humble spirit and prayerful life, that we may truly commend to others the faith which we ourselves profess; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (taken from ‘Common Worship – Daily Prayer’)
Below, reprinted from the October 2008 issue of St. Chad’s Church magazine ‘Lodge and Common’ is an article by one of our readers (Jan) about St. Chad’s the church and the saint which points out the ordinary beginnings of many saints including St. Chad and the need for all of us to try to emulate their Christian lives.
St. CHAD’S CHURCH To my shame, after 8 years of ministry in this beautiful church, I was little aware of its history, and was totally unaware of the commentary on St. Chad’s available at the back of church for a mere 30p, a bargain.
It is packed with information about both the exterior and the interior of our building. I felt this month it was important to examine our roots and give thanks for our origins and all that made St. Chad’s what it is today.
In the 1920′s the land now occupied by Hollyfield Drive and the church site belonged to Miss Winifred Ansell. She married Dr Fluett and they set up home in a Georgian house which fronted Hollyfield Road.
The now Mrs Fluett generously gave a large plot of land to be used for the building of St. Chad’s. The house was put up for sale before the second world war and subsequently knocked down.
At that time the parish of Holy Trinity included also Bannners Gate, Maney and St Chad’s, but with an increasing population there was a need to build daughter churches.
St. Chad’s congregation began life in Sylvester’s Barn in Lindridge Road, present site in Hollyfield Road. The church was completed in 1927, the foundation stone having been laid by Winifred in September 1926.
The full independent parish status was not attained until 1959. On the left hand side of the Altar is a picture of St. Chad. Edwina drew my attention to it a couple of weeks ago as what I had been unable to see from my seat in the pews was that in his hand he was holding a church or cathedral.
It put me in mind of the hymn “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. Although that hymn talks of God holding the whole world in his hands here St. Chad holds up “the church”. (Interestingly the Saint pictured on the right side of the Altar is St Winifred!)
It is the lives of St. Chad and many other such saints, known and unknown on which the earlier churches were built and indeed many churches are still growing today.
When we think of a church we think of a building, bricks and mortar, but the real meaning of church is not the building itself, it is the people. We are “the church” We are the foundation stones of faith on which worship and godly living is built.
We come together in communion and build churches together, to the glory of God. People meet in houses forming house churches, in halls, in gardens, in fields, seats everywhere.
The body of Christ meet to form churches and there are many, many saints within. St. Chad, before becoming a saint, was an ordinary God fearing, God following man.
He was called to save the Lord and he was obedient to that calling until the end of his days. All saints begin life as ordinary people. just like us but it is by their lives and their faith and their example that they are eventually recognised and elevated to sainthood.
There are people in my life I have had the privilege of knowing whom I would say are saintly – committed, dedicated, followers of Christ, some who have overcome much adversity, some still struggling with health or circumstances but not the loss of living godly lives for God.
We have saints in our midst, for it is something to which we all should aspire. It is part of the Christian calling to follow in the lives of the saints and to follow faithfully Christ and his path.
Chad helped build the church of the past, we are the church of today and of the future, it is in our hearts and lives that God will build his church and ultimately his kingdom.
I was welcomed to St. Chad’s 8 years ago and love being part of this place, of its past and helping to shape its future and I give thanks for each and everyone that helps make St Chad’s what it is today.
PRAYER Lord We give you thanks for the lives of the saints, especially St Chad. We give you thanks for this beautiful building in which we meet to worship you. We give you thanks for each other and we pray that we may walk forward in faith bound together by the love of Christ and continue to serve his church and build his kingdom here in our community. Jan – Reader (Abridged extracts taken from her sermon given on October 5th 2008.)
Chad of Mercia
More fascinating information about St. Chad can be viewed by clicking on the link below.