An Island Between Heaven and Earth

Yesterday I made my way into Edinburgh to attend the Alistair Rutherford play  entitled  “An Island Between Heaven and Earth”  It’s about the vision of George MacLeod to restore the Abbey at Iona and how he  used this project to grow a new breed of minister whose training was not simply found in books but through handling bricks and mortar and committing to a life of daily prayer and reflection. Macleod wanted to raise up a generation of ministers who not only would proclaim the gospel but who would seek to live the gospel out in terms of justice for the poor and unemployed who made up the many parishes throughout Scotland in the late 30s and 40s. 

The play explores the story of hardship and opposition from within and outwit the Kirk. It also highlights the wonderful provision of God as prayers are answered in the most unexpected of ways making it possible for the impossible to happen.

There will be five more opportunities to see this play at the Edinburgh Festival.  Its worth going to see. The acting is of a high quality, MacLeod who is played by Mark Kydd comes over as a believable and intriguing character. I loved the fact that the audience was so close to the performance that you felt you were at time intruding upon a real situation. Every member of the cast gave to my mind an outstanding performance.

The play itself is well written and at times deeply moving and prophetic. It certainly has a relevant word to say to the church today as we try to connect with many who feel estranged and alienated from institutionalised church. It got me thinking where are the opportunities to engage trainee ministers to work along side working men and women? I found myself on a number of occasions thinking this play should be compulsory viewing for all who have a concern for the future of the ministry in today’s church. I’d recommend it to every member of the Ministries Council of the Church of Scotland. To paraphrase the words of MacLeod ‘where are God’s gamblers today?

Congratulations to the AJL Production Company for creating a simple but very effective interpretation of what i think will go down as a  church classic recalling the life of one of Scotland's 20th Century legends. On a personal note I like to thank Alistair on the right hand side for giving us such an entertaining play with a profound challenge.


Iona’s Saints
I met a saint today
in a festival play.
This saint had feet of clay but a heart of faith.
I realised sainthood is not about, 
stain glass windows and fine marble statues,
or even popes and miracles.
Its about ‘five by eight” christians
stone masons
these are the saints alongside 
priests  pastors who teach  us how to pray.
Saints who want to gamble with their life.
Saints who throw the dice and look for God’s  double six.
The dice throwing faithful - who call themselves sinners

Give me the courage
To risk all for your Kingdom
To step out beyond myself
To believe the impossible 
To build,
to restore,
the ruins in my community.

Help me learn from the parable of Iona,
an ‘Island between heaven and earth’

Come Holy Spirit 
Turn me side on
that I might become a ‘thin person’
living in a ‘thin place”
expecting miracles.

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