God accepts our work just as he accepts our worship – and the Iona Community is keen to make no distinction between the two. At the end of morning prayers the congregation does not sit, but makes their way straight to the tasks allotted for the day.
But first the tasks have to be allotted. After breakfast, each group (puffins, seals and otters) discovered what their daily chores were to be for the rest of the stay here. Then, once completed, we made our way to the main Sunday service in the Abbey – a communion service at which the president was a minister of the Church of the Palatinate, and the preacher a Community member and URC minister, David Coleman. Although the sun shone for most of the service, the bitter wind blowing across the island succeeded in finding its way into the building, and we grew colder by the minute. I suspect we will be complaining less about the temperatures of our home churches in the future. But the worship was challenging and stimulating, and the invitation to share an oatcake with a stranger as we gathered in the cloisters afterwards led to plenty of good conversation.
Sunday lunch proved not only to be the main meal of the day, but also one of the two occasions in the week when meat is eaten – and very good it all was too. Leaving just time for some of us to walk down to the village hall, where a public lecture by two academics from the University of the Highlands and Islands tried to persuade us all that the Vikings were a thoroughly decent sort of people, and that many of the Scots in the audience were probably more Norse than Celtic!
And at that point the rain that had been threatening all day really set in with a vengeance. Those of our number who decided to go across to the Abbey for the Big Sing returned soaked, but still full of enthusiasm to sing a new song to the Lord. And keen enough, after tea time and later in the evening, to return to the Abbey for the Sunday evening service of Quiet, and a reflective time of Taizé worship to round off the day.