- Reading Luke 6: 27-28 (Good News Bible)
- Reflection St Columba at the Castle
- Prayer for others
Ordinarily this morning the Christian Heritage of Dumbarton project (part of Dumbarton Churches Together) would have arranged for P6 children from all Primary Schools in Dumbarton, plus representatives of Kilpatrick School, to visit the Castle. It is partly to help them learn more of the history, including the Christian history, of the town, and also to bring together children in the two streams of education as part of an anti-sectarian initiative.
It usually happens on or near 9 June, traditionally marked as the Feast of St Columba.
“Come, bless the Lord, all you his servants. Lift up your hands towards the sanctuary and bless the Lord.” Psalm 134: 1, 2
Prayer (A hymn attributed to Columba)
1 Christ is the world’s redeemer,
the lover of the pure,
the fount of heavenly wisdom,
our trust and hope secure,
the armour of his soldiers,
the lord of earth and sky,
our health while we are living,
our life when we shall die.
2 Christ has our host surrounded
with clouds of martyrs bright
who wave their palms in triumph
and fire us for the fight.
For Christ the cross ascended
to save a world undone
and, suffering for the sinful,
our full redemption won.
3 Down in the realm of darkness
he lay a captive bound,
but at the hour appointed
he rose, a victor crowned,
and now, to heaven ascended,
he sits upon the throne
in glorious dominion,
his Father’s and his own.
4 Glory to God the Father,
the unbegotten One;
all honour be to Jesus,
his sole-begotten Son;
and to the Holy Spirit —
the perfect Trinity.
Let all the worlds give answer:
‘Amen, so let it be’.
Reading Luke 6: 27-28
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who ill-treat you.
Reflection Columba at the Castle
Columba and King Roderick
R: Probably the name most associated with the Christian church in the Highlands and Islands is Columba, the Irish monk who came to Scotland and founded the monastery at Iona which played an important part not only in bringing the Christian faith to Scotland, but also parts of England and the Continent.
C: Columba’s biographer, writing about 100 years after the saint’s death, relates that he was a friend of Rhydderch Hael ap Tudwal (Roderick the Generous), king at Dumbarton. We don’t know if Columba actually visited Dumbarton, but for today’s purposes we’ll assume that he did.
R: Columba, my old friend, how lovely to see you again!
C: [Puffing and sounding out of breath] Roderick, these steps up the Rock get longer and steeper every time I come up them. Still the view is worth it, and that gives me an excuse to keep stopping on the way up.
R: As they say, ‘When you can see the hills it’s about to rain, and when you can’t see them, it’s raining!’
Where have you put your boat?
C: One of the monks is bringing it upstairs with him, but he’s having to take it slowly.
R: Bringing it up here? All on his own?
C: Oh yes! We regularly carry the coracle on someone’s back. It’s quite small and light, so you can transport it easily over narrow strips of land between lochs or round shallow bits in rivers.
R: Well, I suppose it’s probably safer up here. You can’t leave anything lying around in Dumbarton, or it disappears. If they can pinch church floodlights, they’d soon enough take your coracle. Anyway, how was your trip here?
C: A bit longer than we had expected. We’d planned to call at Colonsay, then sail down between Islay and Jura, land at West Loch Tarbert, cross over to East Loch Tarbert, sail down round Garroch Head and into the Clyde. But the wind or the Good Lord had other ideas.
R: What do you mean?
C: We missed Islay and Jura, and nearly ended up in Belfast Lough. We made it back across to Kintyre and took shelter in Campbeltown Loch..
R: Did you get some whisky?
C: No. We went round Arran twice – first one way, then the other. Then we were blown straight past Cumbrae and Bute, we couldn’t turn right right at Gourock, and ended up at Arrochar. So we walked over to Tarbet, came down Loch Lomond and bounced our way down the Leven.
R: How were the Vale folk?
C: No problem at all. When you’ve faced down the Loch Ness Monster, the folk from Renton and Bonhill are no problem!
R: Are all your journeys like that?
C: Not all, but some can be. That’s what can happen when you travel about in a small boat with a wooden frame covered in ox-hides, with only a small sail and one paddle. Look what happen to Brendan – he got carried off to Iceland, Greenland and North America, and met a whale and a volcano en route. But our trusty little boat takes us to all sorts of places: I’ve been to Mull, Tiree, Eigg, Skye, Ardnamurchan, up the Great Glen to Inverness, and all over Ireland. They may be small, but they are very useful. We simply commend our journey to the Good Lord before we set off, and if we don’t make it, we know that he will take us to a better place.
R: Do you never think about walking or riding to places on dry land?
C: I’ve nothing to ride on, and the roads are awful – even without Argyll and Bute Council! You have to negotiate rocks, mud, marshy ground and thick woodland in the river valleys and along the shore, and peat bogs on the hills – not to mention the midges!
R: What do you do when you go to these places on the edge of the world? Is there much to see? Are there people? Are there shops?
C: When you can see the views they are stunning, but on many days you can’t see anything for the mist, drizzle and rain. Then you have to stay put – wet, midgy and put. On the clear days, with that vast sky and the cry of the sea, the wind and the sea birds, you want to praise the Good Lord for the beauty of the world he made. On the wet days you thank him for his presence – there is just him and you, and it’s beautiful.
As for people, yes there are small scattered farming and fishing communities. Some are thriving, some very poor. Some are friendly, some less so. When we meet them we tell them the Good News of Jesus, we seek to bring healing and wholeness for their troubles, we pray with them, if they respond to the message we baptise them and share communion. And many islands and remote spots have small communities of monks, or hermits seeking peace and solitude to pray and think about the Good Lord.
R: I think I prefer living here, with all the bustle of a busy place like Dumbarton.
C: I’m sure you do, and that’s where the Good Lord probably wants you to be. But I believe he wants me to be out and about in his Highlands and Islands working for him there.
Prayer (a hymn attributed to Columba)
1 O God, thou art the Father
of all that have believed:
from whom all hosts of angels
have life and power received.
O God, thou art the maker
of all created things,
the righteous Judge of judges,
the almighty King of kings.
2 High in the heavenly Zion
thou reignest God adored;
and in the coming glory
thou shalt be Sovereign Lord.
Beyond our ken thou shinest,
the everlasting Light;
ineffable in loving,
unthinkable in might.
3 Thou to the meek and lowly
thy secrets dost unfold;
O God, thou doest all things,
all things both new and old.
I walk secure and blessèd
in every clime or coast,
in name of God the Father,
and Son, and Holy Ghost.
Blessing The so-called Prayer of St Columba:
See that you be at peace among yourselves, my children,
and love one another.
Follow the example of good men of old,
and God will comfort you and help you,
both in this world
and in the world which is to come.
May the Father shield you in the valleys
may Christ aid you on the mountains
may the Holy Spirit bathe you on the slopes
and may God Almighty take you in the clasp of his own two hands.