One of the characteristics of Beaufort that has always impressed me is how “cosmopolitan” our community is compared to so many communities similar in size. In addition to Beaufort and the surrounding area, we enjoy a number of parishioners and friends of the church who have lived, worked, and traveled all over the world. World travel, I believe, helps to broaden our minds as we see and learn new things that make life rich and full.
The recent trip to Scotland was a milestone in my life, but the true pearl of discovery was the day trip to the island and community of Iona. I had been aware of Iona for a long time but for various reasons had never visited until last August when Kay and I, and 16 other Sea Islanders, were among the 100,000 pilgrims who visit the island each year.
The Iona Community is an ecumenical community of men and women who actively seek new ways of living the Gospel in today’s world. The Community was founded in 1938 by the Rev. George MacCleod and was developed to serve as a sign of the rebuilding of the common life of the Church in the world, and to break down the barriers between prayer and politics, between the religious and the ordinary. The Community is made up at present of approximately 200 members, 900 associates, and 2000 friends. The members are men and women, lay and ordained, working in many different jobs, and coming from many countries. Of special interest, members of the Community renew their commitment to the Community on a yearly basis. What has influenced my faith and theology is the commitment of members to a five-fold rule of prayer and Bible study, meeting together, accountability on the use of time and money, and working for justice and peace. (From the Iona Community Worship Book, page 5)
In light of the many issues that are before the American public and those of us who live in the low country, issues like the need for a meaningful inter-faith dialogue, stewardship of creation, action that resists racism, and the rediscovery of spirituality especially among the young, I find that the theology and work of Iona has something to offer even for a congregation like us so many miles away. It brings me pleasure and warms my heart to see expressions of the five-fold rule alive and at work in our community of faith. It is my hope and prayer that additional manifestations of the five-fold rule will continue to grow and blossom not only in my personal life but in our corporate life together as well.
In closing, my heart is looking forward to a meeting organized by Mark and Dene McCain for those of us who want to learn more about our ties to the people and Church of Scotland, and I yearn along with Kay for the day when we can again stroll the campus that surrounds the ancient Abbey of Iona, to simply sit, stare at the blue sky, listen to the ocean, and hear the gentle voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. In the meantime, may the blessing of God be ours; the blessing of the loving Christ be ours; the blessing of the Holy Spirit be ours; to cherish us, to help us, to make us holy. Amen.