His Way is in the Sea
The worst maritime disaster in peacetime in British waters took place on the Isle of Lewis ninety years ago, on 1 January 1919. The yacht Iolaire (Gaelic for 'eagle') was returning some two hundred and fifty Lewismen who were returning from the trenches of the First World War when she went off course on the approach to the main harbour at Stornoway and struck a notoriously dangerous stretch of rock known as the Beasts of Holm. Over two hundred sons, fathers and husbands drowned, and not all the bodies were recovered. An account of the tragedy can be read here, and John Macleod's new book on the tragedy, When I Heard the
The magnitude of the disaster cast a long shadow over Lewis, where scarcely a village was unaffected. The irony of the disaster is not lost on us when we consider the heroism of the men who had faced the enemy on the battlefields and survived, only to be lost within sight of home.
For these reasons, I shall be preaching our New Year's Day sermon on the great text of Revelation 21:1, where John saw that 'the sea was no more'. A happy new year, to paraphrase Rabbi Duncan, is nothing compared to a happy eternity; and it is still the case that God, who 'plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm', works all things together for the ultimate good of his people, and towards the ultimate hope of a place where sorrow and sighing shall flee away.