Reaching the point of messiness

    Being in the area, there was a moment of curiosity as to what the church was doing. “Messy church” announced its website; the sort of stuff that has, for decades, been the staple of children’s and youth clubs re-branded to suggest that church is something “hip and cool and with it”, or whatever the current phrase is. Reading it, the heart sank, what is wrong with simply declaring that your church is about the worship of the most high God? Won’t people take you as seriously as you take yourself?…

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Sermons

Sermon for Sunday, 14th September 2014 (Trinity 13/Pentecost 14)

"Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Matthew 18:21 Forgiving ...

Sermon for Sunday 31st August 2014 (Trinity 11/Pentecost 12)

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up ...

Summer sermon series, 2014 – The Catechism: 12. The Lord’s Supper

"Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to ...

Sermon for Sunday, 24th August 2014

"And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'" ...

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 ...

Personal Columns

Beginning anew

8th September 1980 was a Monday, it certainly was in the memory. A mental calculation was necessary to verify what was remembered for misremembering has become an annoying occurrence, necessitating the writing down of things that could have been easily recalled in the past. 1980 was thirty-four years ago, then the leap years had to be counted up: thirty-four plus eight is forty-two. The days have gone through a six week cycle since 1980.

The times were not exciting. Baby-sitting for the next-door neighbours on the Sunday evening, it did …

Ireland

Paisley, as he was

We went to hear Ian Paisley at Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian Church on the Ravenhill Road in Belfast – once. It was Sunday, 1st August 1982. The previous day’s edition of the Ulster Newsletter, the only daily newspaper then carrying advertisements from Paisley, had an announcement that there would be sermons marking the thirty-sixth anniversary of his ordination, which had taken place in 1946 when he was twenty.

Arriving half an hour early, we still had to sit in the gallery, the ground floor being full. Being there was …

Spirituality

The beautiful earth

Watching an old episode of Lewis on a satellite channel deep in southern France, a chance comment by  a character recalled a moment visiting a hospital. Asked about the camaraderie among allotment holders, the character commented, “we know that we only compete with the earth, and we know we are going to lose”. Of course he was right, but there was a dignity in losing that battle.

The man in the hospital had spent his days in competition with the earth. His working days had been spent with Bord na …

Ministry

Reaching the point of messiness

Being in the area, there was a moment of curiosity as to what the church was doing. “Messy church” announced its website; the sort of stuff that has, for decades, been the staple of children’s and youth clubs re-branded to suggest that church is something “hip and cool and with it”, or whatever the current phrase is. Reading it, the heart sank, what is wrong with simply declaring that your church is about the worship of the most high God? Won’t people take you as seriously as you take yourself?…

Cross Channel

Torpor

“Torpor”is defined as “a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility”.

“Torpor”was painted in large black letters in the stairwell of the flats on the edge of Manchester’s Moss Side in the winter of 1981. The area had exploded into rioting that spring, but by the time of the dark days, with their cold Lancashire drizzle, there was an air of resignation and hopelessness.

The stairwell stank constantly of urine; the lifts did not work for much of the time, and, when they did, smelt even worse than …

International

Quacks and the Internet

Do you get those emails offering you patent medicines at knockdown prices? The ones that offer you a cure to conditions you never had? And even conditions you could not possibly have?

Quackery is nothing new. The 19th Century was a great age for “patent cures”, few of which were efficacious in anything other than parting gullible people from their money, but maybe the problem lies not with the quacks, but with those persuaded the need a cure. The opening page of Jerome K. Jerome’s “Three Men in a

Church of Ireland Comment

Content with the anodyne

He will be ten years dead this autumn, gone long before his time. He had a talent for affirming people, for offering different perspectives, for unearthing the quirky and the eccentric and the odd and weaving them into the fabric of everyday life. “The Olivetti Chronicles”, a collection of columns written by John Peel for a variety of publications was published in 2008, its name deriving from his persistence in typing copy with an Olivetti typewriter long after such machines had disappeared into obsolescence.

Much of the writing is concerned with music, …

Writing

Only useless words

A week since leaving home and a search for inspiration is in vain.  Sometimes words just don’t work. There will be some thought, some picture that comes to mind, but as soon as an attempt is made to put it into a sequence of symbols on a page, it gets lost.

W.G Sebald’s novel Austerlitz makes a passing reference to a lady called Enid calling in her cat at night. For a moment there was a sense of absolute security as the reference conjured up a thought of a lady standing …

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

No more Blondies

“Three decades ago it wasn’t unusual for older acts to find success in the pop charts – but that is no longer the case”, writes Greg Kot, music critic at the Chicago Tribune on the BBC Culture pages, his answer as to why bands now in their forties or fifties do not enjoy chart success is no more than partial. Kot writes:

“What changed? How did veteran acts manage to maintain pop relevance in previous eras? A closer look at some of the more notable examples in past decades