Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 13th June 2007.
Colin Symes (Community Church, Edinburgh):
Last Saturday, 9 June, was the feast day of the original patron of Scotland, Calum Chille or St Columba, 1410 years after his death. His influence on Scotland is equalled by few. And he influenced not only this nation, for from his foundation of Iona came St Aidan to found Lindisfarne, whence in the seventh century he sent his disciple, Cedd, who established in sight of the Thames the parish in Essex where I grew up. The scope of Columba's mission far exceeded Columba's own lifetime and geographical reach.
Why were they so readily received, Columba and his successors? Put simply, they brought what man most craves: hope. The hope of a God who loved the world enough to die for it; a God who conquered death itself with life to come. In translation, here are words attributed to Columba, from his hymn, "Help of the Labourer". He sings of hope, the hope of one familiar with journeying on the sea:
"Though tiny and trembling and wretched I come,
As I row through this age's dark, infinite storm,
May Christ bring me with Him to His haven of peace,
Where He reigns and the strains of His praise never cease."
Christ offers the same hope today that he offered through Columba to all who feel tiny and trembling and wretched. In the midst of our doubts and darkness, Christ would sail with us in the boat, bringing us safe to harbour.
In remembrance of Calum Chille and his Christ, I now pray in his tongue—the Gaelic—the ancient blessing of Aaron, and the New Testament prayer known to Christians as the grace. In English, the words are, the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up the light of his countenance on you, and give you his peace. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Gum beannaicheadh an Tighearna sibh
Agus gun gleidheadh e sibh.
Gun tugadh an Tighearn' air aghaidh dealrachadh oirbh,
Agus bitheadh e gràsmhor dhuibh;
Gun togadh an Tighearna suas a ghnùis oirbh
Agus gun tugadh e dhuibh sìth.
Agus gu robh gràs ar Tighearna Iosa Crìosd
Agus gràdh Dhè
Agus co-chomunn an Spioraid Naoimh maille ribh uile.