A woman’s touch

    The doctor’s house was in the square, not that I wished to see him. Once before, I had called with him concerning persistent cramp in my right leg; he had decided that it was possibly phlebitis and had summoned an ambulance that took me to a local town at high speed. The hospital determined that it was not phlebitis, but cramp, which is what I had told him: I had only wanted some relief from the pain.

    A notice on the door of the house announced that there would be …

    [continue reading...]

Sermons

Sermon for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany, 22nd January 2017

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." Matthew 4:17 The places named in the Gospel reading help us think ...

Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 15th January 2017

"Come and see" John 1:39 Four verbs in the Gospel reading speak to us about our lives as Christians: come, see, ...

Sermon for the Baptism of our Lord, Sunday, 8th January 2017

"when Jesus had been baptized" Matthew 3:16 The baptism of Jesus is about God being with us. It is about Jesus coming ...

Sermon for the New Year Covenant Service, Sunday, 1st January 2017

"So he got up, took the child and his mother and left for Egypt." Matthew 2: 13 As we begin a ...

Sermon for Christmas Eve, 24th December 2016

" . . . to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the ...

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, 18th December 2016

"they shall name him" Matthew 1:23 The Gospel reading from Saint Matthew Chapter 1 includes four names that were used for Jesus. Jesus ...

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." ...

Personal Columns

A woman’s touch

The doctor’s house was in the square, not that I wished to see him. Once before, I had called with him concerning persistent cramp in my right leg; he had decided that it was possibly phlebitis and had summoned an ambulance that took me to a local town at high speed. The hospital determined that it was not phlebitis, but cramp, which is what I had told him: I had only wanted some relief from the pain.

A notice on the door of the house announced that there would be …

Ireland

Friday night out

€2.20 for four stops on the DART, in Bordeaux €1.50 takes you from one side of the city to the other, and it’s a city as big as Dublin. Sandymount station has more railway staff at ten o’clock on a Friday night than on a weekday morning. The ticket machine is not in order and buying a ticket means standing in a queue at the single booth.

If anyone needed visual evidence that rugby is still predominantly middle class, then Sandymount station after a match provides graphic proof. The crowd …

Spirituality

A farmer’s nod

The “farmer’s nod,” it was an expression new to me. Did it encapsulate not only a physical gesture, but a mindset?

The expression was used by the poet John Montague in a 1977 interview broadcast on John Bowman’s Sunday programme, the person nodding was as far as could be imagined from being a farmer in rural Ireland. Montague was living in Paris where he counted Samuel Beckett among his friends, they would sit talking and drinking deep into the night. Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were neighbours, they …

Ministry

Dickensian ministry

 

Our Mutual Friend commended itself because it was a Dickens novel more or less unknown to the popular media. There were no spoilers among Christmas viewing or school plays. It is an extraordinary novel in many ways, but for anyone in parish ministry, it identifies a particular character most clergy would recognise from their own experience:

That worthy couple were delayed by a portentous old parishioner of the female gender, who was one of the plagues of their lives, and with whom they bore with most exemplary sweetness and

Cross Channel

No more cheap flights

Sitting in an airport departure lounge in the dull ambience of a post-Christmas bank holiday, the departures board raises questions. In three years’ time, what will it look like? What destinations will be left in the world of post-Brexit England? The British Prime Minister has been unequivocal in declaring that “Brexit means Brexit,” and if it means what it says, then it means an end to the four freedoms that have characterised the life of the European Union for more than twenty years. If Brexit means Brexit, then the free movement …

International

Trumping dislike

President Trump is not liked, although that will hardly trouble him. He is not a man likely to be much worried by those who would disagree with him: he is president, we are not, full stop. He will delight in his capacity to discomfit and annoy opponents; he will delight in being able to prompt visceral reactions among groups who hold him in contempt. He will regard the proliferation of social media memes that ridicule him as something positive; he will be pleased at the outpouring of liberal criticism; each …

Church of Ireland Comment

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Abuse

On Thursday, I sent the following letter to the Irish Times, in the vain hope that it might have appeared on the newspaper’s “Letters to the Editor” page and might have provoked reflection by even a few of those listening to the carol service from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on RTE Radio One at four o’clock today.

The letter was not printed.

Sir,

As the traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin this Christmas Eve, might the members of the board of that …

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 – February 2017

I wanted to be like Bob.

Bob was an Englishman in Austria in January ten years ago. He was a wonderful skier who came on holiday by himself each year. He always skied with the fastest skiers and always enjoyed himself. Bob was seventy-seven years old.

I was forty-six at the time, thirty-one years younger than Bob, and I thought, “wouldn’t it be wonderful to be like him if I lived to the age of seventy-seven?”

The ambition to be like Bob came to a sudden end this year. Having …

Pop thinking

The death of the dream of Marie-Claire?

“Where do you go to my lovely?”

The opening guitar chords of Peter Sarstedt’s song were sufficient to induce a mood of fascination and discontent. There was no Internet for a 1970s teenager to consult, so the meaning of many of the lyrics could only be guessed, but there was enough that was readily comprehensible to conjure a vision of a world entirely removed from the life of a rustic, working class youth.

Marie Claire was the sort of girl who would have been the envy of those of us …