I was looking for the George MacLeod quote ‘Take us outside holiness’ – from the prayer prayed during the rebuilding of Iona Abbey in the 1930’s.

Before finding it, I came across another George Macleod quote

“I simply argue that the cross be raised again,

at the centre of the marketplace

as well as on the steeple of the church.

I am recovering the claim that

Jesus was not crucified

in a cathedral between two candles

but on a cross between two thieves;

on a town garbage heap;

at a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan

that they had to write His title

in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek …

and at the kind of place

where cynics talk smut,

and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble.

Because that is where He died,

And that is what He died about.

And that is where Christ’s own ought to be,

And that is what church people ought to be about.”

Lord George MacLeod of Fuinary

Words which the church might ponder again as we seek to discern where God is leading in the post-pandemic world, as we rationalise the building stock, looking to ‘well equip spaces in the right spaces’, and seeking to bring meaningful relevant faith in Christ to the folk who don’t ‘come to church’.

…And then I found the quote I was looking for…. Worthy too of renewed contemplation…

It is not just the interior of these walls,

it is our own inner beings you have renewed.

We are Your temple not made with hands.

We are Your body.

If every wall should crumble,

and every church decay, we are your habitation.

Nearer are you than breathing,

closer than hands and feet.

Ours are the eyes with which you, in the mystery,

look out in compassion on the world.

So we bless you for this place,

for your directing of us,

your redeeming of us, and your indwelling.

Take us ‘outside the camp’, Lord.

Outside holiness,

out to where the soldiers gamble, and the thieves curse,

and the nations clash at the cross-roads of the world…

So shall this building continue to be justified.

George MacLeod (A prayer during the rebuilding of Iona Abbey – circa 1938)