Sermon for Sunday, 24th August 2014 (Trinity 10/Pentecost 11)

    “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Matthew 16:13

    In theological college days a fellow student had on his door a poster that summed up how many of us felt at times about our struggles with our theological studies.

    Jesus said unto them: “Who do you say that I am?”

    And they replied: “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationship.”

    And Jesus said, “What?”

    “But who do you say that I …

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Sermon for Sunday, 24th August 2014 (Trinity 10/Pentecost 11)

"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Matthew 16:13 In theological college days a fellow student had on his ...

Summer sermon series, 2014 – The Catechism: 11. Baptism

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son ...

Sermon for Sunday, 17th August 2014 (Trinity 9/Pentecost 10)

"It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs." Matthew 15:26 Have you ever lost ...

Summer sermon series, 2014 – The Catechism: 10. The Lord’s Prayer

"Pray then in this way", Matthew 6:9 In times past, preparation for confirmation in the Church of Ireland was very structured ...

Sermon for Sunday, 10th August 2014 (Trinity 8/Pentecost 9)

"Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Matthew 14:27 Last Sunday, thinking about the story of the feeding of ...

Summer sermon series, 2014 – The Catechism: 9. What is thy duty towards thy neighbour?

"For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.'" Galatians 5:14 "What ...

Sermon for the Centenary of the Outbreak of the First World War

"While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly" 1Thessalonians 5:3 Winston Churchill is alleged to have ...

Sermon for Sunday, 3rd August 2014 (Trinity 7/Pentecost 8)

"And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children" Matthew 14:21 The story of the feeding of the ...

Summer Sermon Series, 2014 – The Catechism: 8. What is thy duty towards God?

"Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, ...

Sermon for Sunday, 27th July 2014 (Trinity 6/Pentecost 7)

"The kingdom of heaven is like . . ." Matthew 13:31 Jesus' words are a great encouragement; for those of us ...

Summer Sermon Series, 2014 – The Catechism: 7. You should keep God’s Commandments

"The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul".  Psalm 19:7 "Your Sponsors did promise for you, that you should keep God's Commandments", ...

Sermon for Sunday, 20th July 2014 (Trinity 5/Pentecost 6)

"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field" Matthew 13:24 Did you ever ...

Personal Columns

Laying ghosts

Walking into the Spar shop, there was a need for something that might be eaten at leisure. A Mars bar ice cream would suffice.  “£1.50, please”, asked the lady at the counter. For the purpose, it would have been cheap at twice the price. Walking across the village green, I sat on a bench, unwrapped the ice cream and stared at the house that, for years, had so frightened me.

In the days before natural gas reached our corner of the West of England, there was town gas.  No-one ever explained …


Tablet questions

The script is small, faded and densely packed. Only due to the fact that there was half an hour to spare was there an opportunity to climb up into the pulpit to try to read it. For various reasons, it is baffling.

This monument is erected by Elizabeth and Jane Despard to the memory of their Brother
Lieut Colonel Despard of the Royal Fusiliers,
son of Capt P. Despard,
and of Laetitia Despard alias Croasdale deceased, who expired on 22nd of August 1813
at Vittoria of the wounds he received …


Unequal, even in death

Death has been described as the great leveller, the one thing that ensures equality between human beings. Of course, it is no such thing, even in death some people are more equal than others. Standing, yesterday, among those gathered at the village of Guillemont for a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme. The moving words of Tom Kettle were read. In his thirty-six years, Kettle managed to be a barrister, a member of parliament, an academic, a journalist and a soldier. …


Ministry of words

A dozen years or more in residential care, his mind still possesses a light-footed agility long gone from his body. Through the long hours of enforced inactivity, he has sorted and filed his memories carefully; a single prompt can produce an abundance of related recollections. Of a strong evangelical inclination, he remembers with enthusiasm missions and conventions, in churches, in halls, in tents, in barns, in the homes of the faithful.

In the quietness of a hospital ward on an August afternoon, he smiled at memories of preachers, of hearty singing, of …

Cross Channel

Fertile soil for UKIP

The success of the radical right in the European elections did not come from nowhere, nor did it come from a sudden espousal of extremist views by tens of millions of people. In England, the sort of people who voted UKIP are the sort of people you would meet in the pub on a Sunday lunchtime; they are neighbours, friends, even; they are ordinary working people. Overwhelmingly, they are neither racists nor xenophobes; they are simply people with a deep sense of alienation, people who have been ignored by the decision-makers, …



We sat in a Dublin restaurant in the warmth of a summer’s evening. His wife looked at him and said, “Did you do much today?”

He stared ahead with a glum expression. “No, not a lot. There is nothing to do. The office is winding down and I have no idea why we are still here. Even the boss didn’t come in until ten o’clock this morning. ‘Were you at a meeting?’ I asked him. ‘No’, he said, ‘I was sat down on the riverbank watching the fish.’”

We smiled …

Church of Ireland Comment

To love those whom we dislike

The news media carried reports that the Twelfth of July parades in Northern Ireland had passed off peacefully. There was little by way of comment on why this might not have been the case. Perhaps it is because we do not understand Loyalism, nor do we wish to do so.

My late mother-in-law used to tell stories from the Belfast shipyard community in the 1940, 50s and 60s; tales of a proud people who received little reward for their loyalty to the unionist political establishment. Not that talking about the need to …


Days alone

My annual entry for RTE Radio’s Francis MacManus Short Story Competition again came nowhere, so this is the only place the story will ever appear. It is inspired by a man I knew who regarded anyone representing “officialdom” with suspicion and who regarded day centres and nursing homes as “scrapyards.” It may have been a contentious view, but it was one he held with integrity and is one I have encountered among many older men.

It was time to go back to the house. He picked up his stick and rose unsteadily …

Notice Board

Summer Sermon Series

On Wednesday, 4th June we begin our fifth annual summer series in Borris-in-Ossory. This year we have a twelve week series on “Re-learning our faith”. The series will be based on the catechism many church members will have learned in their younger days and will ask what it is we believe today

Wednesday, 4th June: Who gave you this name?
Wednesday, 11th June: What did your Godfathers and Godmothers do for you?
Wednesday, 18th June: Thou art bound to believe, and do, as they promised for thee
Wednesday, 25th June: I …

Pop thinking

Happy songs

My aunt joined us at a family barbecue last night. My aunt claims to be seventy-five, which is nonsense, thirty-five, maybe; probably no more than twenty-five, though. My aunt remains forever young as long as her transistor radio plays in the farmhouse kitchen.

The programme on her radio that remains in the memory is Two Way Family-Favourites. The programme linked members of the British forces posted overseas with their families back in the United Kingdom and drew an audience of millions. Requests for parents and sweethearts, and for soldiers on distant postings, are …