Sermon for Sunday, 14th February 2016 (First Sunday in Lent)

    ” . . . where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” Luke 4:2

    The practical, the powerful, and the personal, the three temptations the devil puts before Jesus; they are very clever, very beguiling, but temptations are like that, if they were not they would not be temptations, they would be things that could be rejected without a second thought. What might we learn about ourselves in these conversations between the devil and Jesus?

    Jesus is hungry, he is famished and the devil is very reasonable. In …

    [continue reading...]

Sermons

Sermon for Sunday, 14th February 2016 (First Sunday in Lent)

" . . . where for forty days he was tempted by the devil." Luke 4:2 The practical, the powerful, and ...

Lent Series 2016 – Some of those he met along the way: 1. Satan

" . . . where for forty days he was tempted by the devil." Luke 4:2 During this season of Lent we are ...

Sermon for Ash Wednesday 2016

"Do not be like the hypocrites." Matthew 6:5 "I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee, but they would not dance and ...

Sermon for Sunday 7th February 2016 (Sunday before Lent)

"Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" Luke 9:35 The ...

Sermon for Sunday, 31st January 2016 (Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany)

"This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many" Luke 2:34 The story of the encounter of Simeon ...

Sermon for Sunday, 24th January 2016 (Third Sunday after the Epiphany)

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." Luke 4:18 The ...

Sermon for Sunday, 17th January 2016 (Second Sunday after the Epiphany)

"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee" John 2:1 Four words from the reading, each beginning with ...

Sermon for Sunday, 10th January 2016 (The Baptism of Jesus)

" . . . when Jesus also had been baptized" Luke 3:21 The letters A, B, C and D can help ...

Sermon for Covenant Service, Sunday 3rd January 2016

"Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:17 We give thanks to God for bringing us to the beginning of ...

Sermon for Sunday, 27th December 2015 (First Sunday after Christmas)

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour." Luke 2:52 The Bible tells us little ...

Sermon for Christmas Day, 25th December 2015

"Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place" Luke 2:15 The story of the shepherds ...

Sermon for Christmas Eve, 24th December 2015

" . . . he was descended from the house and family of David" Luke 2:3 Gathering on Christmas Eve 2015, ...

Personal Columns

Grounded

Allowing plenty of time to reach a meeting at 10.30 am, driving north from Kilkenny, at the roundabout where the roads to Ballyragget and Castlecomer diverge, the car suddenly lost power. It slowed to crawling speed and attempts to accelerate brought no response. The junction has wide kerbs and it was fortunately possible to pull the car off the road; another hundred yards and the halt would have come on a narrow and winding stretch, without hard shoulders or verges, where articulated lorries travel at all hours of the day …

Ireland

Going there from somewhere else

It was one of those days when the apocryphal story of a man who stopped at a country crossroads and asked directions might have been recounted, “If I was going there, sir, I wouldn’t be starting from here.” Ballinasloe used to be a familiar place, for eight years we had a cottage in the Co Galway village of Oughterard and we would pass through Ballinasloe on our journey from Co Down. I knew how to reach the town when approaching from the North, but I wasn’t going there from there.

The …

Spirituality

What are you giving up for Lent?

“It’s Ash Wednesday next week, what do you give up?” I asked a friend.

“Sarsaparilla,” he answered, without a moment’s hesitation. “I never touch Sarsaparilla during Lent.”

Not being sure what Sarsaparilla was, I made a lucky guess. “Is that like me giving up Irn Bru or Dandelion & Burdock?”

“Exactly,” he said, “stay away from the things that you don’t drink.”

We laughed.

Lent is often like that, people give up alcohol or chocolate or Facebook. Sometimes, I suspect the abstinence demands no more sacrifice than the soft drinks not drunk by …

Ministry

Dealing with death

It was a pleasant day on the coast of Co Antrim. An undertaker stood beside me as we waited for mourners to gather at a grave. “She doesn’t want any soil used at the commital.”

“Fine,” I said, “that is not a problem.”

“She says no-one is going to throw dirt on top of her mother. As soon as she is out of the cemetery, half a ton of dirt will be going on top of her mother.”

The gravediggers stood at a distance so it was not possible to …

Cross Channel

Motorway imagining

One of those mornings when the greyness seemed to envelope anything. It was not actually raining, just maintaining a constant threat; the sky was an unbroken blanket of cloud; even at midday, vehicles drove with lights switched on. The flow of traffic along the motorway was constant, a line of heavy goods vehicles occupying the inside lane.  Heading up the M5, the signs announced the distances to Birmingham and to the junctions for roads to London and to the North.

A sense of greyness can often be dispelled by imagining it is some …

International

A place of elegance

Biarritz on two nights in January. Well, not really, though it would be a very inviting escape from the greyness of an Irish midland winter. Last night, there was coverage of the derby match between the rugby clubs of Biarritz and the neighbouring city of Bayonne; tonight the television drama Mr Selfridge opened with shots of the unmistakable seafront, reviving reflections of times when Biarritz was one of the most fashionable places in Europe.

Biarritz has seemed always one of those places that was more about a state of mind than about …

Church of Ireland Comment

Close the church

A Catholic colleague grabbed a sandwich from among the great spread of food on the table and sipped hastily at the mug of tea he had been handed. He looked at his watch, “I am meant to be at a meeting by four and I have had no lunch.” His meeting was thirty miles away and it was already 3.15, he would have indigestion before he reached teatime.

“I had angina three years ago”, I said, “nothing serious; just a warning shot. I went to see a cardiologist and told him …

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 – February 2016

Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, days of prayer and thinking. Following his example, we try to keep Lent each year as a time of thinking about our faith, but how do we think?

In the Church of Ireland, we have followed the Anglican way and we have seen our faith as being shaped by three strands: Scripture, Tradition and Reason. Scripture is believed by Anglicans to contain all that we need to believe. Article 6 of our Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion says, “Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary …

Pop thinking

D-I-S-C-O

Sunday lunchtime seems an opportunity for local radio stations to play old records. Perhaps it would be hard to compete with the national broadcasters and their high profile line ups on Sunday current affairs shows, perhaps younger audiences are still in bed or out engaged in leisure activities, but their seems a perception that the schedule can accommodate music for middle aged people. Music from the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties filled two hours of a schedule today, tunes instantly identifiable at a distance of four decades.

Despised by the intellectuals, …