Sounds of Iona – April 2023

Image of Ruth Harvey, wearing a woolly hat, standing in the Cloisters of Iona Abbey

One of the joys of the Leader’s role is to listen deeply with our Community members about our life together and apart. 

In these last months, many of you have shared with me thoughts about the relationship between faith and action, faith and doubt, and doctrine and rules. 

How do we strike a balance between contemplation and action? How do we embrace faith and doubt as companions rather than adversaries? How do we bind ourselves together as a Community by a rule of life rather than an agreed set of beliefs? These are not new tensions, but ones lived in the stories of the first disciples; alive within the hearts of our friends in other faiths; and acutely relevant to many in our churches and other faith communities around the globe.  

At this time of year we invite Iona Community Members to renew our commitment to the Rule of Life. We don’t ask members to assent to a set of doctrinal beliefs, or to hit a target of agreed actions. We do ask Members to account with one another for our keeping of the Rule. By accounting we mean a deep, honest open sharing about the things that truly matter. This is not a time to judge or criticise but to listen deeply and compassionately about the ways we pray, spend, consume, travel, act. About the ways we live our lives.  

And in all this we know that the Rule keeps us, as much as we keep it. 

We know that many Associate Members keep the Rule as passionately as Members. All strength and courage to you on this journey. If you are an Associate Member curious about joining the Community as a Member, please be in touch with us and explore this within your Family Group.  

In April many of us will gather in London for The Big One – a weekend of action protesting the climate catastrophe that is upon us and Earth. Taking action for climate justice links directly to our concerns about increased poverty, the plight of migrants and refugees, the escalation of war and the ongoing struggle to rid our lands of nuclear weapons. All issues which rise from our life of passionate prayer. However you walk that line of faith and action, know that we walk together – in community.  

And the questions remain. How to walk the tightrope of faithful contemplation and action in a world that seems to favour action? How to make friends with faith and doubt? How to live the Rule without dying to doctrine?  

Let’s keep taking these life-shaping questions to our Family Groups, or to those in our Regions. Share, talk, and listen with one another as we deepen our sense of community together at the local level. Share your yearnings, your longings, your doubts, your questions. Share your passions, your concerns, your anger, your frustration. And be gentle with yourself and with one another. 

Now, may the God of peace and justice, the God of peace and quiet continue to journey with you these days and nights, and through all your days and nights. 

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