Up to Dublin for 8th December

    Driving towards the city along the Naas dual carriageway, it felt odd to be Dublin-bound on 8th December. The cause for the journey was the need to attend a meeting that would not be pleasant, but for a moment there was a chance to enjoy the blue sky and the winter sunshine. The car thermometer declared it to be a very unseasonable twelve degrees outside; with the sunshine, it felt warmer.

    Lest anyone think that the tradition of going up to Dublin for Christmas shopping has altogether faded, with the …

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Sermons

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent, 11th December 2016

"What then did you go out to see?" Matthew 2:8 What did people expect from John the Baptist? What stories had ...

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent, 4th December 2016

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." Matthew 3:2 What does it mean for us to repent? What does ...

Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, 27th November 2016

"Therefore you also must be ready." Matthew 24:44 The name Noah can be used as an acrostic for four words in ...

Sermon for Christ the King Sunday, 20th November 2016

Thinking of Christ as our king today, we can look at the four ways in which Jesus is addressed in ...

Sermon for Remembrance Sunday, 13th November 2016

"When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified" Luke 21:9 What do Jesus' words have to say to ...

Sermon for Sunday, 6th November 2016 (Third before Advent/Ordinary 32)

"Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection." ...

Sermon for Sunday, 30th October 2016 (Fourth Sunday before Advent/Ordinary 31)

"he too is a son of Abraham." Luke 19:9 The word "he" occurs eleven times in the ten verses of the Gospel reading, ...

Sermon for Sunday, 23rd October 2016 (Fifth Sunday before Advent/Ordinary 30)

"all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." Luke 18:14 In a track from ...

Sermon for Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Past Choristers’ Association Evensong

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!" Ecclesiastes 12:8 Perhaps the Teacher from the book of Ecclesiastes is right, perhaps everything ...

Sermon for Sunday, 16th October 2016 (Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 30)

"when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:8 During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, a ...

Sermon for Sunday, 9th October 2016 (Twentieth Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 28)

"Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well." Luke 17:19 The story of the healing of ...

Sermon for Sunday, 2nd October 2016 (Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 27)

"We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!" Luke 17:10 A tree, a table and ...

Personal Columns

Up to Dublin for 8th December

Driving towards the city along the Naas dual carriageway, it felt odd to be Dublin-bound on 8th December. The cause for the journey was the need to attend a meeting that would not be pleasant, but for a moment there was a chance to enjoy the blue sky and the winter sunshine. The car thermometer declared it to be a very unseasonable twelve degrees outside; with the sunshine, it felt warmer.

Lest anyone think that the tradition of going up to Dublin for Christmas shopping has altogether faded, with the …

Ireland

The end of the line?

Media reports suggest closure of sections of the rail network. A day off and a companion from the North who is an expert in railway matters and we set off to explore one of the most endangered lines: Limerick Junction to Waterford.

A train journey in the spring had allowed us to travel from Kilkenny to Waterford in the morning before catching a Limerick-bound train in the afternoon. The journey had to end in Clonmel, where the return to Kilkenny was  made by bus. It would have been possible to have returned …

Spirituality

A malevolent spirituality

Eighteen months short of his century, his stories are an oral history of a community. Ideally, the conversations should be recorded so that his extraordinary catalogue of recollections is not lost, but he would be dismissive of any suggestion that his memories should be preserved, and would become cautious if he thought his words might be recorded.

A chain of thoughts led him to look pensive and then begin to piece together of Mayday in his youth. Being unfamiliar with any of the beliefs and traditions he described, there were …

Ministry

What’s a day off?

Mr Grumpy is moaning. Last Monday’s day off was lost to a Dublin meeting, this coming Monday there is a funeral, the Monday after that there is a commemoration service. By the next day off, on 5th December, it will have been four weeks since the previous day off. Mr Grumpy is losing perspective again, each time he does so, he has to remember Dr Samuel.

Doctor Samuel was in Dublin last in 1999. He had flown to London to have cataracts removed from both eyes and a friend had paid for …

Cross Channel

Being clueless

A week of Lewis programmes on ITV 3. Having seen all of them before, there has been selectivity about which of them to watch for a second (or even a third) time. By nine o’clock in the evening, or ten o’clock if it is watched on the ITV 3+1 channel, there is a wish for nothing other than the familiar and the unchallenging.

Knowing the storyline of detective programmes means being able to derive satisfaction from the villain being gradually discerned and then arrested. There can come moments of irritation …

International

A religion-free Christmas?

Walking through the shopping centre, the unmistakable sound of The Fairytale of New York filled the air. If there were ever an anti-consumerist Christmas anthem, it must be it: two drunks without a cent to spend sharing their dreams on a cold and bleak Christmas morning, not much scope for success by slick advertising campaigns.

The need to constantly reinvent our consumerist culture underlines its essential futility. Despite there being no Thanksgiving holiday, advertisers decided there would be a “Black Friday.” Even the primary school class last week complained about …

Church of Ireland Comment

Unacknowledged scandals

The emergence of a scandalous story of sexual abuse associated with the Church of Ireland is not a surprise. That the Church of Ireland did not have problems of institutional abuse owed much more to fact that very few institutions existed in the Church of Ireland than to the church being any more virtuous than the Roman Catholic church.

In our small corner of the Irish Midlands there was a small Church of Ireland primary school which in the 1940s had a falling number of its pupils on its roll. A scheme was …

Writing

The Passenger

Reaching for his phone, he switched off the alarm. It surely could not be seven already. A friend’s birthday the previous day had meant a night out and a late return, maybe it had been after three. Those with Monday to Friday jobs could now sleep until lunchtime; he needed to be in work by half past eight.

Going to the kitchen, he met his mother, already busy with the day’s tasks. A stern look told him that it was wiser not to complain about the pounding in his head …

Notice Board

Rector’s Letter, December 2016

I have for a long time suffered from bouts of depression, sinking unexpectedly into moods where all I want to do is to hide away and do nothing, worried about even the smallest things. On holiday in September, I sank into a very black time and felt so bad I phoned my doctor from France to make an appointment to see him as soon as I returned.

The doctor listened very sympathetically and then told me that I had a deficiency of adrenaline, that I was fine when I was going …

Pop thinking

Missing the good tunes

Driving back late at night, Midlands 103’s Friday night “Roadhouse Cafe” programme was on air. The music had a mellowness about it – Free, The Band, The Moody Blues, Stevie Nicks – there came the familiar sense of having missed the important years of music.

Being born in 1960 and a teenager in the 1970s, there was a always a sense of having been born too late; a sense of having missed the most interesting times.  The Beatles had broken up in 1970 and we had to be content with …