Pictured detail

    A friend from the ’80s was a good amateur photographer (good to the point where he had exhibitions); he took photographs of unlikely things, interesting things. Driving along the Bangor to Belfast dual carriageway one morning, he stopped to photograph the side of a barn, upon which was painted Bible verse. The prophecy of the forthcoming judgment was juxtaposed with dark thunder clouds in the Ulster sky to the west.

    A couple of dozen photographs in our albums are in the friend’s style – though without his technical ability. Pictures …

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Sermons

Summer sermon series, 2015 – What’s it all about? 8. Who are our community?

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

Sermon for Sunday, 23rd August 2015 (Trinity 12/Pentecost 13)

"You have the words of eternal life." John 6:68 Reading Saint John Chapter 6, it is easy to miss details, while concentrating ...

Summer sermon series, 2015 – What’s it all about? 7. What do we think about our loved ones who have died?

"Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live" John 11:25 Anyone who has lived in rural Ireland, North ...

Sermon for Sunday, 16th August 2015 (Trinity 11/Pentecost 12)

"I will raise them up on the last day" John 6:54 Four uses of the word "I" in today's Gospel reading ...

Summer sermon series, 2015 – What’s it all about? 6. Who do we believe?

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by ...

Sermon for Sunday, 9th August 2015 (Trinity 10/Pentecost 11)

"I am the bread of life" John 6:48 The word "life" provides us with four letters with which to think about the ...

Summer sermon series, 2015 – What’s it all about? 5. What do we think about worship?

"But I am among you as one who serves." Luke 22:27 Sometimes, it seems that it would be possible to preach ...

Sermon for Sunday, 2nd August 2015 (Trinity 9/Pentecost 10)

"Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life" John 6:27 We need ...

Summer sermon series, 2015 – What’s it all about? 4. Who does the work of the church?

"And after they had appointed elders for them in each church . . ." Acts 14:23 Which of us is a ...

Sermon for Sunday, 26th July 2015 (Trinity 8/Pentecost 9)

" . . . as much as they wanted". John 6:11 The letters of the word "loaf" give us the initial letters ...

Summer sermon series, 2015 – What’s it all about? 3. What are our buildings for?

" . . . the place on which you are standing is holy ground" Exodus 3:5 What are our buildings for? ...

Sermon for Sunday, 19th July 2015 (Trinity 7/Pentecost 8)

" . . . and all who touched it were healed" Mark 6:56 The verses we read from Saint Mark Chapter ...

Personal Columns

Pictured detail

A friend from the ’80s was a good amateur photographer (good to the point where he had exhibitions); he took photographs of unlikely things, interesting things. Driving along the Bangor to Belfast dual carriageway one morning, he stopped to photograph the side of a barn, upon which was painted Bible verse. The prophecy of the forthcoming judgment was juxtaposed with dark thunder clouds in the Ulster sky to the west.

A couple of dozen photographs in our albums are in the friend’s style – though without his technical ability. Pictures …

Ireland

Lies, Ashley Madison and statistics

News reports of the leak of the data from adultery site Ashley Madison make the astonishing claim that there were 115,000 people in Ireland with an account; it seems a number that is at least improbable.

The 2011 Census recorded the population of Ireland as being 4,588,252 (the population has fallen since 2011, but let us assume that figure). Breaking the total down the Census gave the number in each age range:

 0 – 14 years 979,590
15 – 24 years 580,250
25 – 44 years 1,450,140
45 – 64 years 1,042,879
65

Spirituality

It is no longer so

A return to France approaches and with it the realization that the prospect of attending a church service is remote. Walking through a village on the Somme in July, along a frontline where for four years life and death had intermingled in some horrifying embrace, it was clear that old stories and old ways no longer commanded authority. A sheet of paper inside a wooden box advised of Mass times in the area; there seemed to be one Sunday Mass which rotated around a succession of twenty-five different churches: Mass every six …

Ministry

New conversations

Standing on a garage forecourt filling my ageing Peugeot with diesel and contemplating nothing in particular, a voice broke into the moment of reverie. “Do you not have a sign for that?”

I turned to see a middle aged, well dressed man carrying a pile of books stepping into the passenger door of a car stopped at a nearby pump. I was baffled by the question, “Sorry?”

“Do you not have a sign you can make, like the sign of the cross or something, so that the car fills itself automatically?”…

Cross Channel

No, the past was not happier

Nostalgia was big in the 1960s and 1970s, people would talk about how little they had when they were young and how well they had coped and how happy they all were in the 1930s and the 1940s. To have suggested that the times seemed anything other than miserable would have invited accusations of knowing nothing about it. It took a parody song by the radio presenter Tony Capstick to provide a card with which to trump those who were nostalgic for the years of the Great Depression and the worst …

International

Going home early

According to Le Monde, today was only going to be a red Saturday, as was last Saturday. There was a black Saturday two weeks ago and there will be another next week. The colours refer to the intensity of the traffic flow on the days marking the beginning and the end of holidays, the “bouchons”, those places where the thousands of vehicles travelling on the French autoroutes come to a complete stop, are all too frequent.

Growing up with the myth that the English worked harder than anyone else …

Church of Ireland Comment

Missing a piece of the jigsaw

It is five years since I discovered a letter that gave an insight into Church of Ireland life in the 1950s. The weak state of the Irish economy and poor farm incomes were causing substantial shifts of population away from rural areas and the Church of Ireland was concerned about its future presence in many rural communities. The Irish Land Finance Company had been created in 1913, before the Great War. In 1956, it was felt necessary to remind parish clergy of the existence of the company and advise them of the …

Writing

Redrafting the past

It was the music that made him realize that he had to do something and, when he thought about it, it really wasn’t nearly as complicated as he might have imagined. It was really quite simple.

Sitting on a District Line train, he stared up at the map showing the route, stretching eastward and westward from central London. He had no need to do so, he could have recited the stops on his journey without hesitation – sixteen of them, sixteen going in, sixteen coming out. He had an affection for the District …

Notice Board

Rector’s Letter – September 2015

Back in the spring, our select vestries were required to complete a census form from the diocese giving the total numbers of every member of the Church of Ireland who belonged to our parish. The numbers were being sought because the parish assessment is based on our church population, we pay for every person we have on our lists, whether or not they ever attend, whether or not they ever give anything.

Our immediate response is likely to be to say that everyone who does not pay what the diocese calls …

Pop thinking

Betcha, by golly, wow

KCLR, I’m never quite sure what it stands for. Kilkenny Carlow Local Radio, who would call it that? KCLR sounds like one of those American radio stations where even hazarding a guess at the meaning of the letters would be difficult. KCLR sounds more authoritative, it gives a feeling that it is something “out there”, a feeling that this could be a station at ease wherever it may be. Perhaps the impression arises from listening only on a Sunday lunchtime when the music stretches back to the Sixties and Seventies and …