The Iona Community is a dispersed ecumenical religious community with its base on the beautiful island of Iona off the coast of western Scotland. It was founded in 1938 by George MacLeod, and its roots are in Govan, in Glasgow, where poverty and unemployment have been markers of the common life. It works for peace and social justice, the integrity of creation, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship.
From a dockland parish in Govan, Glasgow, MacLeod took unemployed skilled craftsmen and young trainee clergy to Iona to rebuild both the mediaeval abbey and the common life by working and living together, sharing skills and effort as well as joys and achievement. He chose Iona because in 563AD the Irish monk Columba (Columkille) established a monastic settlement there, that evangelised large parts of Scotland and northern England and became an important centre of European Christianity. In the Middle Ages there was a Benedictine abbey here, and over the centuries it has attracted, and continues to attract, thousands of people on their own pilgrim journeys.
The Iona Community’s spirituality is concerned with engagement rather than individualistic withdrawal. It is founded on the incarnational theology that asserts a strong social and communal dimension: God is thoroughly down to earth, to be discovered not only in personal reflective meditation but in the practicalities of life, in human struggles and relationships as much as in natural beauty and tranquillity.
Its liturgy therefore has a directness and a strength, a joy and a confidence which both encourage and challenge – reminding us of God’s concern for his broken world and our responsibility to engage with it, and assuring us of our place in His heart and His family.
Here are some examples of prayers and texts from Iona worship to give a flavour of their liturgies. In our Team we may from time to time use Iona prayers or liturgies for particular occasions.
Leader: God of new beginnings, you long for us to live in love and justice with our neighbours, with friends and strangers, with people everywhere.
All: You call us to be just and loving, in our working, in our shopping, in our caring and through our prayers.
Leader: Jesus, you were a storyteller; you talked about money, wages and taxes, you told stories about integrity and forgiveness, you helped people who were in trouble, you listened to people who were sad.
All: You call us to live as you did - to listen to each other, to be forgiving, and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
Leader: Holy Spirit, we are discovering what you ask of us. You are wild and wise and you speak the truth. You challenge and comfort us, you breathe life into us, you shout in the streets and whisper in our ears.
All: You remind us what Jesus taught and practised, you take us to task, you tell us to turn around; you call us to walk in Love’s way.
Leader: Holy Trinity, God’s love in community,
All: Every day in all our living, help us to say Yes to you. Amen