The birds still sing

    At Thiepval today, amid the noise of the comemorations and the sound of the bands, the birdsong continued. It was a sublime moment. In Sebastian Faulks’ novel Birdsong, a sense of awareness of beauty persists against the background of the story of horror. At one point, the central character, Stephen Wraysford, in in England on leave:

    The hedgerows were deep and ragged where he walked, covered with the lace of cow parsley. The air had a feeling of purity as though it had never been breathed; it was just

    [continue reading...]

Sermons

Sermon for Saint Peter’s Day, 2015

"Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men". Luke 5:10 The life of the fisherman grows ever harder and more ...

Sermon for Sunday, 28th June 2015 (Trinity 4/Pentecost 5)

"They were overcome with amazement" Mark 5:42 "Holding out for a hero", went the words of a pop song from thirty ...

Sermon for Sunday, 21st June 2015 (Trinity 3/Pentecost 4)

"Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" Mark 4:41 We can think of the Gospel ...

Sermon for Sunday, 14th June 2015 (Pentecost 3/Trinity 2)

"The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground" Mark 4:26 It is a little early ...

Sermon for Sunday, 7th June 2015 (Trinity 1/Pentecost 2)

"Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother" Mark 3:35 We think about today's Gospel reading ...

Sermon for Trinity Sunday, 31st May 2015

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may ...

Sermon for the Day of Pentecost, 24th May 2015

" . . . suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind" Acts 2:2 In ...

Sermon for Sunday, 17th May 2015 (Acts 1:15-26)

"It is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time" Acts 1:21 Matthias was ...

Sermon for Sunday, 17th May 2015 (Easter 7)

"All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them." John 17:10 The Gospel reading, Saint ...

Sermon for Sunday, 10th May 2015 (Easter 6)

"I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father." ...

Sermon for Sunday, 3rd May 2015 (Easter 5)

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower" John 15:1 What can we learn from Jesus when he ...

Sermon for Good Shepherd Sunday, 26th April 2015

"I am the good shepherd" John 10:11 We can use the word "sheep" as an acrostic as we think about Jesus' ...

Personal Columns

A need for company

Cape Clear Island is a place apart. A 45 minute sea crossing from Baltimore in west Cork, it is a place reached only with effort. Occasionally, a small roll-on, roll-off ferry carries vehicles across to the island, otherwise it is foot passengers only on a boat that crosses three to four times each day. The sense of isolation is reinforced by the cars on the island, many are battered, some are without lights, some barely hold together; there are no regulations enforced. The population of 140 people is served by …

Ireland

The First of July

Tomorrow, I will be at Thiepval. I have been so often that those I know have grown tired of my stories, tired of my re-telling of what I believe those acres of land mean to the history of Ireland. Sure, what would an Englishman know anyway?

I was last there, at the Ulster Tower in April. The group were mostly from the Irish Midlands, but there were a few from the North, one of whom was experienced in radio drama. He and a Belfast friend read the closing lines of …

Spirituality

Good Friday, 2015

Weary after a long day, refuge is taken in familiar words.

Back in 1990, a beautiful little book came out Praying with the English Poets. One of the most memorable poems in the collection is John Donne’s Good Friday 1613. Riding Westward.

Engaged in the worldly occupation of riding west on a Good Friday, Donne’s soul is carried towards the east. He seeks a vision of that Friday afternoon and prays that God will restore His image in him.

‘€œLet mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The …

Ministry

Flawed ministry

Twenty-six years ago, 27th June was a Tuesday. It was my first day as a rector of a parish.

One of the problems of being in a parish of ninety families with the same people being in church fifty-two Sundays of the year, as many of them were, was finding something fresh to say every Sunday. On one hand there was a danger of being bland and saying nothing, on the other there was the danger that, if one said anything challenging or provoking, someone would take offence and there would be …

Cross Channel

A Peelite world is possible

A confession, I only discovered BBC Radio 6 after a friend’s recommendation last week.

Listening to it via my phone whilst driving through Co Laois, I thought John Peel would have enjoyed this evening’s programme. An intelligent presentation of an eclectic selection of music and even a discussion of books that used words not to be found in tabloid newspapers or textspeak, perhaps it was intended for people of an undergraduate age, rather than an ageing parson who remembers going to Glastonbury Festival – in 1979 – but there was no warning …

International

The birds still sing

At Thiepval today, amid the noise of the comemorations and the sound of the bands, the birdsong continued. It was a sublime moment. In Sebastian Faulks’ novel Birdsong, a sense of awareness of beauty persists against the background of the story of horror. At one point, the central character, Stephen Wraysford, in in England on leave:

The hedgerows were deep and ragged where he walked, covered with the lace of cow parsley. The air had a feeling of purity as though it had never been breathed; it was just

Church of Ireland Comment

Silly bishops

In Left-wing circles in college days in London there was a story that, in 1917, the Russian bishops were discussing the colours to be used in the celebration of Easter when the revolutionaries burst through the doors. The story probably had not a shred of historical truth, but it encapsulated people’s  attitude towards the church, that there was a revolution at the door and the church was concerned only with its own liturgical arrangements; that it was irrelevant.

Whether there is any basis in truth for the story of 1917, …

Writing

Four and four and one make ten

RTE Radio’s annual short story competition closes this week. Expanding a piece written last year, this is this year’s entry. This is the only place it will appear!

The cottage’s garden gate opened directly onto a road where a vehicle might legally travel at a hundred kilometres an hour, and some did. Sitting among other buildings on a rise in the ground at a bend in the road, it might be easy to drive the route without ever noticing the cottage was there. If one drove at a speed approaching …

Notice Board

Rector’s Letter – Summer 2015

When we moved from the North in 1999 to live in Dublin, one of the most useful words I learned was “bockety”. It was a slang word from “bocht”, the Irish word for “poor”, but it expressed something much more. A bridge could be bockety, a building could be bockety, a car could be bockety, perhaps even people could be bockety.

It was a word that suggested that something was worn out, that it might break down. There was a skill in keeping going something that was bockety. It would …

Pop thinking

Real music

Serendipity? Is that the word for it? An accidental, but fortunate discovery. Serendipitous.

One of the Christmas presents to the good lady of the house was a pair of tickets for Duke Special, an artist whose work she has enjoyed for some years. The concert was in Dublin’s Vicar Street, maybe eighty miles from home, but on a Saturday evening in May it was not a too forbidding prospect. The drive last night was easy, there was even free on street parking within yards of the doorway of Vicar Street.…