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Sometimes on these wild mornings when the sleet batters the windows, the waves pound the shore and the wind screams across the Atlantic, I think of Columba.

As I retreat into the comfort of a warm house and an even warmer coffee, I wonder what it must have been like for Columba and his fellow monks as they made their way from the shores of Ireland to the wilds of Argyll.

The fragile shell of a coracle was not the most effective shelter against the wildness of our coastline.

Yet they came. They came and, as they forged their way through the waves, they also forged their way through all the dangers the storms could hold for them.

They came. At Southend we have evidence of worship and of faith.

What made Columba come to our shores?

There are many answers to this question, but the main one is that God called Columba.

God called him from a safe comfortable life into the unknown.

There was a tiny island off Mull that had no great significance – until Columba came.

Now Iona is known throughout the world, revered as a place of spirituality, of Christian witness, of the life of saints.

Yet it was just a wee unknown dot on the map.

Is that not just typical of God? To take the smallest, the most insignificant, the least known, the least important and raise it up?

On Sunday evening, many modern-day pilgrims will gather at Columba’s Footprints at Southend and God will do it again.

He will raise up those who think they are of no importance and he will whisper his words of encouragement, just as he did to Columba.

Listen – for the word of God.