20th November 2019

Visit to Iona

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?…The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare with the wings and feathers of the stork…Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider…Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high?”
Job 39:1, 13, 18, 26 (NIV)

Recently I visited the island of Iona where St. Columba landed from Ireland, founded a monastery, and brought Christianity to Scotland. There, it is believed, the famous Book of Kells was transcribed from a Latin version, and beautifully illustrated. In this book (now kept in Ireland) one finds drawings of cats, mice, fish, otters and other animals entwined in the intricate Celtic designs, alongside the beautifully executed script of the four gospels. In the past these seemed to me somewhat out of place in the setting of the message of the gospels, although I always loved and admired the wonder of God’s creation. However as I attended several services in the restored Iona Abbey, it gradually began to dawn on me, through the Celtic prayers, hymns, and Bible readings, that I had failed to appreciate the interconnectedness of all creation. From the tiniest flower to the giant redwood trees; from the hummingbird to the ostrich; from the dust mite to the shining whale; up the chain to humanity, only God gives and sustains life.

We can plant seeds and even clone animals, but only God the Creator can give them life and growth; and the second he no longer sustains that life they die, as do we. Suddenly the closeness of their and our lives, and our utter dependence together on God, dawned on me in a new way. This very moment you, I, and millions of other humans and animals, are all breathing in and out every few seconds, dependent on this fragile tie to the strong hand of God. The verses I quoted from Job, as God rebuked his ignorant presumption, shows us just how much God expects us to learn from the wonderful creation he has gifted us. God does not teach Job with a theological treatise, but with a call to use his mind, look around at creation and appreciate the glory of what the creator has gifted us. Surely the Celts of Iona, who first brought Christianity to Scotland, had a richer appreciation of the whole of creation than many of us do.

Father, in you we live and move and have our being. Thank you, Jesus, that you became one of us with an appreciation for the flowers of the fields, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, and all that you created. Help us, Holy Spirit, to see the creation and each other with your eyes.

Study by Christina Campbell

About the Author:
Christina Campbell attends the Glasgow congregation of Grace Communion International in the UK, where she is an occasional speaker and Bible Study facilitator.

Local Congregation:
Gracecom Glasgow
St Stevens Presbytery
(Garnethill Room)
260 Bath Street
G2 4JP

Meeting time:
Sunday 11:15am

Local Congregational Contact:
Ian Smillie
Phone: 01505 348758
Email: glasgow@gracecom.church

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