When wishes disappoint

    Thirty-six years ago this month was a despondent time.

    Chelsea, whom I had followed with a passion since the age of nine, (including saving up money I earned from pumping petrol to travel to London for the odd match), were relegated from the First Division, amassing a mere twenty points from forty-two games. Being a Chelsea supporter had offered nothing but disappointment; their last trophy had been eight years previously. Peter Osgood, their legendary forward from times past, had returned to the club in mid-season and had scored the opening goal …

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Sermons

Sermon for Sunday, 3rd May 2015 (Easter 5)

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower" John 15:1 What can we learn from Jesus when he ...

Sermon for Good Shepherd Sunday, 26th April 2015

"I am the good shepherd" John 10:11 We can use the word "sheep" as an acrostic as we think about Jesus' ...

Sermon for Sunday, 19th April 2015 (Easter 3)

"Jesus himself stood among them" Luke 24:36 Three words beginning with "w" capture a sense of the Gospel reading. In Saint ...

Sermon for Sunday, 12th April 2015 (Easter 2)

"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe" John 20:29 Saint John tells of the Risen ...

Sermon for Easter 2015

"Early on the first day of the week . . ." John 20:1 The word "Easter" provides us with an acrostic ...

Sermon for Palm Sunday, 2015

"Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields." ...

Holy Week Sermons, 2015 (Good Friday): Five Objects – A Spear

"one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out." John 19:34 Our ...

Holy Week Sermons, 2015 (Maundy Thursday): Five Objects – A Cup

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from ...

Holy Week Sermons, 2015: Five Objects – A Coin

" . . . he overturned the tables of the money-changers" Matthew 21:12 Our Holy Week addresses this year focus upon ...

Lent Series 2015: What the word we hear and read?

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" 2 Timothy 3:16 "What the word we ...

Holy Week Sermons, 2015: Five Objects – A Table

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. Luke 22:14 Our Holy Week ...

Holy Week Sermons, 2015: Five Objects – A Cloak

"Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields." ...

Personal Columns

When wishes disappoint

Thirty-six years ago this month was a despondent time.

Chelsea, whom I had followed with a passion since the age of nine, (including saving up money I earned from pumping petrol to travel to London for the odd match), were relegated from the First Division, amassing a mere twenty points from forty-two games. Being a Chelsea supporter had offered nothing but disappointment; their last trophy had been eight years previously. Peter Osgood, their legendary forward from times past, had returned to the club in mid-season and had scored the opening goal …

Ireland

Losing a past

His young bride died on Monday, suddenly and unexpectedly, in a Dublin hospital, at the age of 92. It was February that I last saw her, content in residential care with a pile of novels and her copy of the Irish Times; each Monday evening an old friend still called and they played Scrabble and shared a bottle of wine. The hour spent with her had been filled with laughter as we recalled stories he had told. His fund of stories had been boundless and only when he died in 2004 …

Spirituality

Good Friday, 2015

Weary after a long day, refuge is taken in familiar words.

Back in 1990, a beautiful little book came out Praying with the English Poets. One of the most memorable poems in the collection is John Donne’s Good Friday 1613. Riding Westward.

Engaged in the worldly occupation of riding west on a Good Friday, Donne’s soul is carried towards the east. He seeks a vision of that Friday afternoon and prays that God will restore His image in him.

‘€œLet mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The …

Ministry

War graves and closing churches

Standing in a war graves cemetery in Northern France on Thursday, 23rd April, we paid our respects to a man who had left his family’s farm in the Irish midlands to volunteer for service in the British army and who had served with both Irish and English regiments before being killed in action a month before the 1918 armistice. It was thought unlikely that any member of the soldier’s family would ever have had the opportunity to visit the grave, so it was felt important that we do more than pass it by. We …

Cross Channel

Seaside days

A butcher’s shop in Bridport was the focus for a BBC 4 history programme. In childhood days, Bridport would have possessed a great mystique, but not for any of its shops. Bridport meant West Bay and the seaside. In the years of my West Country childhood, the seaside had always a sense of the magical, the exotic; a place where reality was different. Being an obsessive classifier, the seaside in youthful perception fell into four divisions.

The fourth division was the Bristol Channel coast of Somerset; it ran from Weston-Super-Mare down …

International

Financial mauling

We attended last year’s European rugby final in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where the match against the English club Saracens was an entirely one-sided triumph for the French team Toulon, and we attended the year before in Dublin, where Toulon beat ASM Clermont Auvergne by a single point, and we might have gone to Twickenham for this year’s final, had the dates of the competition not been changed. Having seen them win twice, there was a feeling of inevitability about the result of yesterday’s match, a feeling that there …

Church of Ireland Comment

Unjust parsons

BBC television’s “Poldark” series might make one wonder about the nature of a society that allowed extreme poverty to endure alongside comfortable affluence. Against the late-Eighteenth Century background of revolutionary changes in America and the coming revolution in France, were there not people people asking questions about justice in England? Of course there were, the years that followed would be years of political ferment, but if one lived in a remote rural parish, where might one hear of demands for change, demands for fairness?

Of course, if one went along …

Writing

Four and four and one make ten

RTE Radio’s annual short story competition closes this week. Expanding a piece written last year, this is this year’s entry. This is the only place it will appear!

The cottage’s garden gate opened directly onto a road where a vehicle might legally travel at a hundred kilometres an hour, and some did. Sitting among other buildings on a rise in the ground at a bend in the road, it might be easy to drive the route without ever noticing the cottage was there. If one drove at a speed approaching …

Notice Board

Rector’s Letter, May 2015

Looking at the stories about Jesus appearing to his friends after he had risen from the dead in school, we looked at the story of Jesus appearing at the side of the lake while the disciples were out in a boat fishing. Reading the Good News Bible that we use in school, one verse seemed odd, Saint John Chapter 21 Verse 7 says, “When Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken his clothes off) and jumped into the

Pop thinking

War pictures

On grey days when mist and cloud create a semi-darkness even in mid-afternoon, certain music is therapeutic. Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Band have the capacity to change the mood, to bring another world into the confines of a small and battered Peugeot car. It was The Band’s “The Night they drove old Dixie down” that launched a train of thought. “In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive”, goes the song.

The winter of ’65? A hundred and fifty years ago. Why had a song about …