The anatomy of a pop song

    Driving through Co Laois as darkness fell, RTE news offered only dreary stories. Speculation on a general election in 2015 and reports of the IMF being paid off – the item not mentioning whose money had been taken to make the payments. Escapism was necessary. A mobile wifi modem and an old iPhone allow the option of listening to internet stations, any number of which play a constant sequence of music uninterrupted by politicians. A station called “Simply 70s”, or something similar, seemed an appropriate exit from the dullness of …

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Sermons

Sermon for Advent Sunday, 30th November 2014

"But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the ...

Sermon for Christ the King, Sunday, 23rd November 2014

"Lord, when was it that we saw you . . ." Matthew Chapter 25 Verse 37 The word "care" might provide ...

Sermon for Sunday, 16th November 2014 (2nd before Advent)

"For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who ...

Sermon for Armistice Day, 2014

Sermon at Saint Fintan's Church Mountrath on Tuesday, 11th November 2014 ‘The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the ...

Sermon for Remembrance Sunday 2014

"Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Matthew 25:13 In the year in which we have ...

Sermon for All Saints’ 2014

"Blessed" Matthew 5:3 Are we blessed? Are we a blessing? Being a Christian is to be blessed and to be a blessing.  ...

Sermon for Sunday, 2nd November 2014 (4th before Advent)

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not ...

Sermon for Sunday, 26th October 2014 (Trinity 21/Pentecost 20)

"If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" Matthew 22:45 This is an important question because this ...

Sermon on Saint Luke

The opening words of Saint Luke’s gospel offer us important insights into the writing he leaves us and into the ...

Sermon for Sunday, 19th October (Trinity 18/Pentecost 19)

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's". Matthew 22:21 What are ...

Sermon for Sunday, 12th October 2014 (Trinity 17/Pentecost 18)

"For many are called, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:14 Imagine being invited somewhere and then being ejected because you had ...

Sermon for Sunday, 5th October 2014 (Trinity 16/Pentecost 17)

"I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces ...

Personal Columns

Bad dreams are common

In Marilynne Robinson’s novel Lila, the Reverend John Ames comes into the kitchen in the early morning and talks with Lila, his young wife who is expecting their child.

“And how are you two this morning?”

She said, “I guess this child of yours don’t want me to sleep. Maybe he don’t like my dreams or something.”

He helped her with her chair. “You’re having bad dreams? Here, I’ll get the coffee.” He poured her a cup. “Do you want to tell me about them?”

“They’re just dreams. You must

Ireland

Why cut down a cross?

Why would someone climb Carrauntoohil mountain with an angle grinder and cut down a five metre metal cross? What would have prompted such behaviour? Maybe they are opposed to the Christian faith, maybe they are avowed secularists who object to a religious symbol at the peak of Ireland’s highest mountain; maybe their reasons are much more personal, much more painful.

There is a moment in Ridley Scott’s 2005 epic film The Kingdom of Heaven where the character Balian—a crusader who has come to Jerusalem to defend the Holy City—sits on …

Spirituality

The hereafter

“Are you going to heaven? How will you spend the afterlife?” asks one of those things in Facebook. How will I spend the afterlife? It’s a question more serious than a Facebook quiz. If pastoral ministry in the church means anything, heaven has to be a serious matter.

A friend in Ulster once told of a conversation with a friend who was a pastor,

‘What’s heaven like?’ he had asked the pastor

‘Heaven?’ said the pastor, ‘Heaven for for me will be standing with my dog on a bridge in

Ministry

A future of dementia

“Nurse, nurse, nurse”, called the woman repeatedly. She sat in an armchair staring straight ahead, eyes focussing on nothing. When a nurse came and asked the problem she said there was not one, only to continue to call, “nurse, nurse, nurse” as soon as the nurse had left her side. Periodically the woman beside her would turn to her and ask, “what did you say her name was?” During thirty minutes in the room the words became like some sort of mantra – the constant repetition accompanied by the question …

Cross Channel

No more Flying Saucers

Uncle Joseph, the deceased benefactor in the RTE Sunday evening play, was an enthusiast for flying saucers, UFOs. It seemed odd, the mention of flying saucers in a drama set in 2014. Would members of younger generations even be familiar with the term? Flying saucers must seem as quaint and old fashioned to a 21st Century generation as ideas of fairy folk would have seemed to the UFO enthusiasts.

In England of the Sixties and early-Seventies, UFOs were in vogue. “Sightings” were frequent and were the topic of everyday conversation. …

International

Looking for big skies

A clear sky and a Sunday evening with nothing in the diary meant the opportunity to take the telescope out into the garden and stare into the vastness of space – Cassiopeia, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major – the tour of the constellations was brought to a halt not by cloud, but by fog rising from the river and blanketing the town.

There is something deeply calming about contemplating space and something reassuring about places from which deep space is observed. Visiting the Penticton observatory in British Columbia in 2008, it …

Church of Ireland Comment

Census realities

In the 1980s, the Church of England began to shift the deployment of clergy away from rural communities to areas thought to be in greater need of pastoral care. A colleague likened it to a supermarket closing its profitable stores in order to put money into those that were making losses, but what happens in the Church of England often crosses the Irish Sea. The Church of Ireland, with as many clergy in total as a large English diocese, is planning to reduce the number of bishops by cutting the …

Writing

Waking thoughts

Keeping his eyes closed, he tried to slip back into drowsiness. The day that awaited was uninviting, to drift into sleep seemed much preferable.

The dream had been odd. He was at the gathering of a family unknown to him, a gathering so large that they had moved from their house to be seated in the street outside of their front door. Different family members were performing ‘party pieces’, a song, a piece of music, an Irish dance. He could not remember why he had come to be there and …

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

The anatomy of a pop song

Driving through Co Laois as darkness fell, RTE news offered only dreary stories. Speculation on a general election in 2015 and reports of the IMF being paid off – the item not mentioning whose money had been taken to make the payments. Escapism was necessary. A mobile wifi modem and an old iPhone allow the option of listening to internet stations, any number of which play a constant sequence of music uninterrupted by politicians. A station called “Simply 70s”, or something similar, seemed an appropriate exit from the dullness of …