light in the darkness

Were I the perfect child of God whose faith was deep and love was broad

not doubtful, guilty, work or flawed,

I’d gladly follow Jesus.

But I’m the child of what I’ve been, estranged by much I’ve done and seen,

afraid to show the love I mean,

unfit to follow Jesus.

Yet God who knows me first and last,

who’s seen my best, my worst, my past,

has shown his love intense and vast by meeting me in Jesus.

For Christ, though killed at Calvary by sins like mine and folk like me

has risen, forgiven and set me free,

made fit to follow Jesus.

John Bell, Iona Community

We traveled from Edinburgh, Scotland to the community nestled into the crags and sweep of the island of Iona.

It was on Iona that St Columba brought a message of forgiveness and life 600 or so years after the death of the one killed on Calvary.  Columba set sail from Ireland with the teachings of Jesus because the light of the gospel was too bright to keep bound by any land mass.

This island has been host to the faithful through the ages.  A Benedictine monastery was founded here around 1200 CE, eventually abandoned, and then resurrected by a Presbyterian Scot who knew the power of this place and the power of his exhaustion with holy teachings mute in the face of violence and fracture in the world.  He founded a community dedicated to practicing the counter-cultural message of the gospel.

We joined them tonight for prayer.  Worship was at 9:00 PM.  We walked from our hotel under a star spangled sky and trusted our feet to know the path to the monastery.  We entered a space nearly a century old.  It is massive and hugely- stoned and we were led into the lap of the community by the piano and the flicker of candles piercing the darkness.

Our opening hymn put on our tongues the words printed above.

Those words found purchase in my heart.

The wonder of it;  The light of the Holy sung and lit through the ages and alive alive alive within us.

We are set free.  Perched in an ancient choir stall, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses both alive in body and heart, and surely fit to follow Jesus in all places because the light is simply too bright to imprison.

The church of the imperfect, met by Jesus, singing our light in the darkness.

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