1918 recalled

    A birthday gathering yesterday for a man born in 1918. To sit and converse with someone whose life has encompassed almost the entirety of modern history is fascinating. It is not the big stuff that is intriguing, anyone can read that in the history books, it is the reminiscences of daily life and events.

    The ability to be quiet and to listen has developed greatly in the last quarter century. One day, in 1993, there was a conversation about 1918 in a farmhouse kitchen in Killough in Co Down

    “D’ye mine

    [continue reading...]

Sermons

Sermon for Sunday, 24th July 2016 (Ninth Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 17)

"Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened ...

Summer sermon series, 2016: Songs from the heart – Be still, my soul

"The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?" Psalm 118:6 "Be still, my ...

Sermon for Sunday, 17th July 2016 (Eighth Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 16)

"Mary has chosen the better part" Luke 10:42 As we read the few verses that describe the visit of Jesus to ...

Sermon for Sunday, 10th July 2016 (Seventh Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 15)

"and when he saw him" Luke 10:33 The Good Samaritan is one of the best known of the parables told by ...

Summer sermon series, 2016: Songs from the Heart – Abide with me

"Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." Luke 24:29 "Abide with me" is probably ...

Sermon for Sunday, 3rd July 2016 (Sixth Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 14)

"Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals." Luke 10:4 Jesus doesn't make it easy, does he? He warns his disciples that ...

Sermon for Sunday, 26th June 2016 (Fifth Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 13)

"Go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Luke 9:60 Four places in the Gospel reading help us to think about Jesus ...

Sermon for Sunday, 19th June 2016 (Fourth Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 12)

"Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." Luke 8:39 The  word "mind" appears in saint ...

Sermon for Sunday, 12th June 2016 (Third Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 11)

"Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:50 Is our faith like the faith of the woman? Is it practical? ...

Sermon for Sunday, 5th June 2016 (Second Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 10)

"This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country" Luke 7:17 Five verbs from the reading from Saint Luke ...

Sermon for Sunday, 29th May 2016 (First Sunday after Trinity/Ordinary 9)

"‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." Luke 7:9 The story of the healing of the ...

Sermon for Sunday, 22nd May 2016 (Trinity Sunday)

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." John 16:12 The word "light" provides ...

Personal Columns

Railway reverie

There was the smell of a steam locomotive in the air outside of Portlaoise this morning, and if not a steam locomotive, something very similar. It is a distinctive smell, the smell of burned coal, the smell of heavy engineering, the smell of a lost past.

Being someone who has no understanding of machinery, for whom the number of wheels on an engine and the type of rolling stock it pulls are arcane matters, there is nevertheless a fascination in following the course of long closed lines and standing at derelict …

Ireland

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

At the monthly meeting of the local historical society, newspaper articles making mention of the former market house were circulated. The market house was not only the commercial centre of the town, it was also used for sittings of the magistrates’ court. Judging by a report carried in the Freeman’s Journal in 1838, there were reasonable grounds to question the independence of the magistrates, and to feel that being a clergyman in those times might have been a very lonely role.

The article was my first encounter with the Reverend …

Spirituality

Ministerial aspirations

Canon Jim Hartin, the gently unworldly priest who presided over the training of Church of Ireland clergy in the 1980s would wave his finger in rebuke at sharp comments.  “Cynicism is the enemy of spirituality”, he would say, “become a cynic and you have nothing to offer anyone”.

Envy is the mother of cynicism; the muttering about people who tried things that were new or different, or, even worse, who succeeded at anything that was new or different, was always loudest amongst those who had never tried anything and disliked …

Ministry

1918 recalled

A birthday gathering yesterday for a man born in 1918. To sit and converse with someone whose life has encompassed almost the entirety of modern history is fascinating. It is not the big stuff that is intriguing, anyone can read that in the history books, it is the reminiscences of daily life and events.

The ability to be quiet and to listen has developed greatly in the last quarter century. One day, in 1993, there was a conversation about 1918 in a farmhouse kitchen in Killough in Co Down

“D’ye mine

Cross Channel

The long road to Brexit

The long road to Brexit began on 12th May 1994, the day that John Smith, the leader of the British Labour Party, died from a heart attack. The grammar school educated, Scottish Presbyterian, Queen’s Counsel was a man of integrity, respected as much by his opponents as by his own party. The Labour Party had lost four successive general elections, but had slowly rebuilt its support after the nadir of 1983. A week before Smith’s death, the Labour Party had enjoyed great success in local government elections, the governing Conservative …

International

The strength of the slow and the last

There are those who would not watch a game of tennis from one year until the next, but avidly follow every match at Wimbledon; judging by the extensive live television coverage and the highlights programmes, there are others for whom the Tour de France has a similar fascination. As tennis can have points difficult for the casual onlooker to understand, so even the business of racing a bicycle from one point to another is not as straightforward as it might seem.

Having watched the Tour de France for more than twenty …

Church of Ireland Comment

Another Twelfth of July

The Twelfth of July has become an irrelevance – and therein lies the problem. It is an irrelevance to religious leaders, who long ago disavowed any connection with the day and all that was associated with it. It is an irrelevance to political leaders, long gone are the days where the Orange Order played a significant political role through its membership of the Ulster Unionist Council.

This year’s Assembly election should have been a reassurance to the bonfire builders and flute players, but the visceral feelings expressed in the burning …

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 – July 2016

Camping holidays or lives possessed? It seems an odd question, I’ll explain.

Recently in church, we read the story from Saint Luke Chapter 8 of the man possessed by a demon that called itself “Legion.” When reading that story, there is a temptation to think, “that was interesting, but it has nothing to do with me.” But if we look again at the story, we see that the spirit that possesses the man is destroying the man’s life,  Saint Luke Chapter 8 Verse 27 tells us, “For a long time he had worn …

Pop thinking

The forgotten

Social media can be like village gossip, stories from the past that have been long forgotten can be suddenly revived and presented as new; so it is that a February 2015 report has been circulating on Facebook this week. Sylvester Stewart, better known as “Sly Stone” from the music group “Sly and the Family Stone” had been awarded $5 million in unpaid royalties. The report said that Stewart had, as a matter of choice, been living in a camper van in recent years.

The Facebook post did not carry the links one …