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Showing posts from September, 2012

Psalm for Back to Church Sunday

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This is a call to worship I put together for Back to Church Sunday 2011 but forgot to post at the time... So here it is another year on...
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the LORD."
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God, our loving heavenly shepherd And we are his flock, the people of his pasture.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and glorify him with music and song. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
From Psalms 95, 118 & 122

An Untraditional Route

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I live in a leafy suburb of East Belfast (although I largely work in a slightly less leafy loyalist housing estate further east) and it is a rare day that the sound of Orange parades is to be heard here, in contrast to my last manse, which was practically on the route of the largest Twelfth Parade in Ireland. However, today, I have no doubt that I will hear more than a few flute bands as what is predicted to be the biggest parade of loyal orders (and others) for many years arrives at its destination in the Stormont Estate, just across the road. They are coming there to share in a family fun day celebrating the Centenary of the Signing of the Ulster Covenant. Due to its scale there are multiple "feeder parades" which will merge at Belfast City Hall where there will be a number of re-enactments of the initial signing of the Covenant, before the long haul out to Stormont and back again. The choice of Stormont as the ultimate destination is an interesting one, given that whilst…

A Contemporary Covenant

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I'm currently reading (among others) a local history of the area in which I minister, Dundonald, on the eastern outskirts of Belfast, entitled “The Most Unpretending of Places”. That is the origin of the grainy photograph at the head of this post, and according to the author, Peter Carr, it is a picture of some citizens of Dundonald signing the Ulster Covenant on the 12th September, 1912. Either the people of Dundonald were ahead of the curve and wanted to sign that document a fortnight before Edward Carson appended his signature to the top of it, or else the author got his dates wrong…
It was on this day, September 28th 1912, that the majority of the adult Protestant population of Ulster signed a document known as the Solemn League and Covenant, in order to articulate their absolute opposition to the Home Rule Bill then being proposed by the British government. This piece of legislation would have left Ireland still firmly within the British Empire, but many within Ulster believ…

Thoughts on Playboy by an Old Married Man

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Just had a very relaxing 24 hours or so, in between what was a busy and traumatic week and what is likely to be a busy and traumatic week... I had planned to take a 3 day weekend to celebrate our anniversary with my wife... But various crises have conspired to curtail that... However, we did manage to get to the Lyric Theatre's production of "Playboy of the Western World" last night... This was particularly appropriate as it was through a student theatre company in Edinburgh that we were both members of that we got together... and the director of this production, Conall Morrison, was another member and good friend... although his speech at the wedding reception will live long in the memory... especially the memory of Sally's family who thought he was suggesting that I should actually have married another friend, the actress Ali White... But that's another story (which I'll tell some day over a flagon of mead.)
But anyway, it was good to get out and exercise th…

Thankful for the Coming Weekend...

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The beginning of September is usually a little crazy in any minister's household as everything kicks into gear for another year of fun and games. Add to that a little additional insanity when the minister's spouse is also employed in a church or church-related community project...
That's the baseline for our family as the summer holiday's some to a close... this year we've had the extra stress of Ciaran starting a new school and Owain resuming school (going back a year) after a somewhat disastrous year 13 due to injury and illness... Then 2 days into the school year Owain dislocates his shoulder through the strenuous activity of turning over in bed, necessitating a 2 day sojourn in hospital and another trip to theatre to reset it... Most people come to the end of weeks like that and are thankful for the coming weekend... So what are we doing for our first weekend of the school year? Well, tomorrow we're all taking part in the DFCI North Down Coastal Challenge,…