Showing posts from January, 2008

"I can hear a trolley coming..."

During the conversation on Theology and Practice of Reconciliation last week the lead participant from the activist side was Dr. Duncan Morrow, the Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council, while his correspondent from the theological perspective was Professor Drew Gibson, a specialist in practical theology from Union Theological College in Belfast.
Drew argued vociferously for a Christian ethos based upon a theology of the last times, or eschatology to use the technical term... Just as he was standing up to make his response to Duncan's initial paper, someone who was clearly as desperate for caffeine as I was said "I can hear a trolley coming..."
What we hear, or want to hear coming, can sometimes drown out what people are saying now... Causing us to miss the opportunities of grace that God has for us here.
Yes, there is an extent to which our theology should be future-focused, but it should never make us so heavenly minded that... well, you know the rest...
In my…

Playing Your Part

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his holy house,
Praise him under open skies;
Praise him for what he has done,
Praise him for who he is;
Praise him with a blast on the trumpet,
Praise him with the strumming of strings;
Praise him with song and dance,
Praise him with piano and voice;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
Praise him with fiddle and with tambourine.
Let every living, breathing creature play their part! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

A responsive Psalm roughly based on Psalm 150 in Eugene Peterson's The Message, reflecting the musical make-up of our local congregation.

Hear the Spirit Crow

I said I would post more on what Duncan Morrow had to say at our recent meeting... And let me assure you that there will be much more. He generally says more insightful things in a talk scribbled on the back of 3 crumpled pieces of paper than I do in reams of closely reasoned and carefully prepared material.

But anyway, our discussion was generally about the theology and practice of reconciliation (although after he left it majored on the theology and practice issue, without really focussing on reconciliation... dodging the issue again perhaps!)

Duncan's thesis was largely that the western world in general, Northern Ireland in particular and the church par excellance were governed by 3 broad principles in dealing with current problems:Distraction Containment DenialI may come back to comment on the first 2 at some point, but what was most memorable for me was his assertion that while the church finds its origins in the confession of Simon Peter, its experience is reflected much more …

Living in the Midst of a Graveyard

Recently I was at an event where the Rev Leslie Griffiths (or Lord Griffiths of Burry Port if I were to be official about it, and name-drop with an enormous "clang") told those present that he lived and worked surrounded by a significant graveyard around Wesley's Chapel in London. This, he affirmed, served to remind him not only of the past, but of the future... the future for all of us.
His comment reminded me of the fact that in my first station, a rural one, I was the only minister in the local clergy fraternal who didn't have a graveyard around my church buildings, a fact for which I was perennially thankful, not because of any squeamishness but because my colleagues lives seemed to be dominated by the petty politics involved in administrating grave plots.
Yesterday I was back in the same room as the discussion with Leslie Griffith, but this time the speaker was Duncan Morrow (many more postings will probably stem from what he said, here and elsewhere...). During h…

A Message about The Message?

My song is love
Love to the loveless shown
And it goes on
You don't have to be alone

Your heavy heart
Is made of stone
And it's so hard to see you
You don't have to be on your own
You don't have to be on your own

And I'm not gonna take it back
Oh I'm not gonna say I don't mean that
You're the target that I'm aiming at
Got to get that message home

My song is love
My song is love unknown
But I'm on fire for you,
You don't have to be alone
You don't have to be on your own

And I'm not gonna take it back
Oh I'm not gonna say I don't mean that
You're the target that im aiming at
And I'm nothing on my own
Got to get that message home

And I'm not gonna stand and wait
Not gonna believe it until its much too late
On a platform I'm gonna stand and say
That I'm nothing on my own

And I love you, please come home
My song is love, is love unknown
And I've got to get that message home.

"A Message" by Chris Martin on Coldpla…


This week the the British government has tentatively moved towards abolishing blasphemy laws within England and Wales. Now speaking as a Methodist in Northern Ireland, there is a huge part of me that doesn't give a monkey's, since those laws haven't applied here for nearly 150 years and only covered the Anglican tradition anyway... But it isn't the fact of the abolition that makes me write, it is the rationale behind it.

It started as an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill by Lib Dem MP Dr. Evan Harris, who called the law "ancient, discriminatory and illiberal". Originally the government had instructed Labout MPs to vote against it but they feared yet another back-bench revolt. Then their rescuers came in the unlikely form of leading church figures, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, a noted evangelical, who wrote to the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, arguing the legislation was discriminatory as it only covers attacks on Christianity and Ch…

Snowflake Moment

Last night the snow came. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. The weather forecast 2 hours previously hadn't predicted it. I left the house and everything was normal but within 2 minutes and a mile from home 2 inches of snow was on the ground and it was blowing in horizontally. Later it took us an hour to make the journey home from Holywood, a trip that would normally take 10 minutes at most. On the way we encountered many cars slipping and sliding on the ungritted roads... particularly 4x4s, confirming my worse suspicions that many people who buy such vehicles for town driving don't really know how to drive them!
Even at 11pm there were lots of people out having snowball fights, making snowmen and even a few parents dragging young children along on sleds. This produced an unaccustomed keeness in my wife to plan to go out sledging with the boys at Stormont this morning. Given that, at that moment I was concentrating hard on keeping the car on the road and aching because the cold had got in…