Faith at Work XI

June 2005

How often these days do people set off into the unknown without any idea of where they will finish up or of what they will do? It takes faith even to think about doing it but sometimes it may appear to be worth giving everything up to start again. This is how it seemed to Columba, the saint we remember on 9th June each year and who is best known for his role in bringing Christianity to Scotland; he landed at Iona on the eve of Pentecost 563CE.

There are several possible explanations for how it was that he headed north from Ireland with his twelve followers until he settled in a place from whence he could no longer see his native land. One is to do with a battle in which he was too much engaged; he was deemed to be responsible for the loss of three thousand of the king's men and had been exiled. The battle itself seems to have resulted from a dispute over a copy that Columba had made of a vulgate gospel that Bishop Finbar had brought back from a pilgrimage to Rome.

There are some interesting associations of the name Iona or I Chaluim Chille as the Gaelic has it. It translates as the Island of Columba, which is Latin for dove, his alternate name Chaluim Chille meaning "dove of the church". Curiously, the Hebrew Iona also means "dove", the bird that was sent out by Noah to see if the waters were receding after the great flood. So, Columba's voyage away from his troubles in Ireland has some echoes of Noah's boat trip away from wickedness in the Genesis myth.

In the Genesis story (Gen.8), the dove finds nowhere to make a nest on her first flight out from the ark, her temporary home. On her second exploration, she comes back with a freshly plucked olive leaf, a sign that new life is beginning. On her third flight, the dove spreads her wings and does not return she has found a new, exciting role in life and her mission lies elsewhere.

So it was with Columba, so it may be with us but wherever we go, whatever we do, may the good Lord be with us, as the Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 139:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my thoughts.
See if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2005-05-02

Copyright 2005 Mike Fox
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