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Unto Us a Calf is Born
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Christian Community as Pilgrim People
Nov. 2, 2010

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Christian Community as Pilgrim People

  posted November 2, 2010  

With the whole church
we affirm that we are made in God’s image
befriended by Christ, empowered by the Spirit.
With people everywhere
we affirm God’s goodness at the heart of humanity,
planted more deeply than all that is wrong.
With all creation
we celebrate the miracle and wonder of life,
the unfolding purposes of God,
forever at work in ourselves and the world.

Affirmation-Iona Community Worship Book

When you make a pilgrimage to a place like Iona you do so in the company of other pilgrims. We have traveled here for different reasons, in different seasons of life. We come with hopes and questions of faith. So in addition to a pilgrimage to place, we also make a pilgrimage to a people.

The community is ever changing but always the same. There are always new volunteers, new staff staggered for work from one to three year periods of service. The weekly guests and work week volunteers include some who have come to Iona many times and others for whom this is a first visit. But I have come to believe what builds and bonds this community is the rhythm of worship and work together.

Everyone who comes to the Iona Community centres shares in tasks that include chopping veggies, cleaning bathrooms, setting tables for meals and washing up. Everyone - permanent staff, resident volunteers and weekly guests. Everyone is invited to share in worship. At 9:00 AM every morning (Sunday at 10:30 AM) we stop what we are doing and come to the Abbey for worship. It is simple and musical. We join in the affirmation found above and other prayers and songs. There is no benediction at the end of our time together for we continue our worship in work through the day. Work is worship.

Although I have understood this concept and literal flow of work and worship intellectually, I have never lived into it in quite the same way as I do when I am on Iona. I believe this is due to the community, a fascinating blend of people who share this rhythm and watch it transform us as individuals and a unique group gathered for a week together. It is our new and transforming understanding of the “unfolding purposes of God” that we will carry back into our daily lives.

We need one another on pilgrimage to affirm and challenge who we are and what we believe. I give thanks for those places in the world where this can happen.


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