Raising the parting glass

Dec 24th, 2009 | By | Category: Ministry

On what is the most festive night of the year, the heart is full of heaviness.

The eleven years in Dublin have been good times, they have been happy times.  They have been years watching our children grow up.  They have been years filled with vivid memories and special moments.

Calling, though, is not a matter of happiness; it’s a matter of faithfulness.  Katharine has been appointed Dean of Saint Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny, a city some eighty miles from here,  and in the new year preparations will have to begin for a move to a very different home and ministry in the spring.

The move is exciting, new ministry, new opportunities, yet is bittersweet because it means a farewell to a community who have been our best friends. As the people in Kilkenny are told at midnight about an arrival, so, at midnight, I must stand at the microphone and tell my friends at saint Matthias’ of a departure.

There are numerous verses of Scripture that come to mind, from the calling of Abraham in Genesis to the call to discipleship in Revelation, but the words that resonate most on the last Christmas Eve in Dublin come from a ballad.  The song with which the Clancy Brothers would end their concerts has an opening verse that confesses the failures of the past and wishes the erstwhile companions well for the future – The Parting Glass:

Of all the money that e’er I had,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm I’ve ever done,
alas it was to none but me.
And all I’ve done for want of wit
to mem’ry now I can’t recall;
So fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be to you all.

Joy be to you all, my friends, joy be to you all.

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  1. God bless you, Ian, this joyful Christmas-tide, and may He lift your spirits. A very happy and blessed Christmas to you and yours.

  2. Ian you will be sorely missed. I just cannot find the right words at the moment to express how I feel – none are adequate but just read Psalm 121. You have found a place in our hearts and lives and we are all so happy with you there. You have opened so many paths of praising and healing amongst us all and have been able to involve us with the wider family of God in our everyday thinking and praying. Blessings and love on you all and to you all.

  3. I walked down the Merrion Road after the match this evening with a heavy heart. I suppose it comes down to the point about being called to faithfulness and not to happiness.

  4. Ian can’t you be faithful and happy? Your new parish will love you and your old one will remember you with fondness. I didn’t realise that Katherine’s appointment meant such a big move. Change is always hard but not necessarily bad. The best of luck to you. Thank goodness for your blog, your old parishioners will be able to keep in touch and follow your progress.

  5. Certainly you can be both, but the former must take priority over the latter.

  6. We will all miss you so very much, you have been a breath of fresh air and a great help to us, and to so, so many. We thank you for your Ministry and guidance over the last eleven years and wish you and your family many joys in the years to come.

  7. Thanks, Nikki. I shall remember all my days ‘He wishes for the cloths of heaven’ being read at the wedding. It was an inspired choice.

  8. I am still playing catch-up after a Christmas with intermittent broadband.

    As You and Katharine begin this new adventure and phase in life, I wish you God’s blessing and contentment in your work.

    Happy New Year Ian!

  9. Thank you, Grannymar, the upheaval will be major!

    Keep up your blogging and have a blessed 2010

  10. Ian

    Here’s to faithful and happy adventures in Kilkenny!

    As Baino says… thank goodness for your blog, your old ‘blogging friends’ as well as, your old parishioners, will be able to keep in touch and follow your progress! 😀

  11. Steph,

    I’m not sure about the blog, yet. It’s easy to tell stories in Dublin without people being able to guess the names of the people involved, anonymity in the country is not so easy.

    I’m glad you’re keeping well and hope you have a very healthy 2010.

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