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Aidan (Part 2)

To understand the concept that it is better to give than receive.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To understand the concept that it is better to give than receive.


1. Aidan was well received in Northumberland. He was given lodgings in the king’s castle in Bamburgh, but it wasn’t long before Aidan recognized that this didn’t help his cause. The castle was where the army lodged. It was a busy place. Aidan was used to a quieter life on Iona, where he could seek God in prayer. He also felt that living in the castle set him above the ordinary people. So, he requested of the king somewhere else to settle and chose the small, flat island of Lindisfarne, off the coast of north Northumberland. Today, it is called Holy Island and people still go there to enjoy the peace and seek God.Point out where Lindisfarne is on the map, if using.From there he could see the castle of Bamburgh, but, as he walked through the countryside, he would meet many ordinary people. He would ask them, ‘Do you know God?’ If they said, ‘Yes’, then he would say, ‘Let’s pray together.’ If they said, ‘No’, then he would tell them all about God’s love in sending Jesus.

2. Later in his life, the new king, Oswin, was concerned that Aidan was getting older. He thought that all the walking he was doing couldn’t be good for him. He surprised Aidan one day with a gift – the best horse in the stables, complete with the finest leather saddle.‘That will be much more comfortable for you my friend’, the king said and indeed it was, physically. Strangely, though, Aidan’s heart didn’t feel so comfortable. There was no peace in it about this gift. He would pass people – they down on the road, he up high on his fine horse – and he felt that there was something just not right about it.An opportunity arose when he saw a poor man coming towards him, begging. Aidan got down off the horse and listened to his story. ‘Friend, I have no money, but what I do have is this horse and saddle. You can sell them and get money for your family.’At first the poor man was suspicious. This had to be a trick, he thought, but, as he listened to what Aidan said about Jesus’ love and humility, he began to understand. He hugged Aidan and went off with the best horse and saddle in the kingdom. Aidan felt as though a great weight had been lifted from him. He was on foot again and it felt right.

3. Of course, it wasn’t long before news of this reached King Oswin. The next time Aidan visited the castle, the king looked rather cross to say the least and found it difficult to even speak to Aidan. Then he blurted out, ‘How could you do this? I gave you a gift of my finest horse and saddle and you thought so lightly of it that you just gave it away!’Aidan replied very gently, ‘Dear friend, what is more important, a horse or a poor man’s soul?’

4. Surprising all those around him, the king came and actually knelt before Aidan. ‘I am sorry, Aidan. You are so right. People matter far more than horses and wealth.’

5. King Oswin became very well known for his generous acts towards his people. Once, when he heard some poor people were begging outside his castle, he even gave away a silver platter, piled high with mouth-watering food from his own table, but that’s another story for another day.

Time for reflection

There is a similar story in the book of Acts (3.1–6) in the Bible. The disciples, Peter and John, were stopped by a man begging. Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk’ (NIV).The best gifts are often those that money can’t buy.Think about what you can give away today that would bless and encourage someone else.

Dear God, Thank you that Aidan knew you and was able to show by his life how good and kind you want to be to all men. Teach us to give away the many good things we have to others and, like Aidan, experience peace and joy in our hearts.


‘God is love’ (Come and Praise, 36)

Publication date: October 2013   (Vol.15 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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