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Showing posts from February, 2014

Once... he wrote a poem...

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Sorry. It's been a while again, and I haven't forgotten my promise to return to look at the vexed question of forgiveness among other things flowing from the event at Skainos "Listening to your Enemies," however, I've been extra busy this week with a couple of training days and a wedding (making a pleasant change from the multiplicity of funerals I have been conducting recently). One of the training days was in conjunction with the new inter-churches Suicide awareness programme "Flourish" established to help address the epidemic of suicides we are experiencing in Northern Ireland at present... an enemy which is in danger of claiming more lives than the troubles in half as many years. In the light of that I thought I would share this short poem I came across a few days previously in John Julius Norwich's miscellany "Christmas Crackers" which, as he says, seems like "grim fare" to include in a such a book. But it was written by a 1…

Wrong Time, Wrong Place?

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Last Thursday evening at the "Listening to Your Enemies" event in Skainos, Jo Berry emphasised that it is important to have a safe space for difficult discussions... sadly the environment around Skainos seemed anything but safe that night.
A couple of friends, colleagues and congregation members have already suggested to me, via email, facebook and face to face that the 4 Corners Festival and/or EBM /Skainos were na├»ve/arrogant/bloody stupid (delete as applicable) to field such an event in inner east Belfast, especially given recent interface tensions with the Short Strand residents, flag protests, the stand-off after the twelfth parade last year and other tensions concerning Skainos itself.
Those who believed that it was still a worthwhile event, just not at the right time or in the right place, have asked why we didn't swap the two Methodist events and have the 4 Church Leaders event in Skainos and the Berry/Magee one on my own patch, the Agape Centre on the much less…

Listening to OUR enemies

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When we were planning the 4 Corners Festival some of our thinking was coloured by the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity "Is Christ Divided?" and some by the fact that many in the room had also been involved with the Hope and History Campaign in the run up to the Haass talks. In that there was a reminder that the New Testament includes a call to love our neighbours, and even our enemies. This is in response to God’s reconciling, redemptive love for us, and a reflection of our role, as Christians to be ambassadors of that reconciling love, calling on people to be reconciled to God and to each other. However, such high-minded ideals take a bit of work... Reconciliation with one another requires a process that includes the recognition that our enemies are human beings... and loving such enemies may not be an instant thing... especially when that enmity has cost us and ours dearly. So when EBM offered to host an evening with Jo Berry and Patrick Magee we were keen…

Who's in the Room?

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It's one week on from the events at East Belfast Mission's Skainos Centre, and the effects of it rumble on. The next day I published on Facebook a couple of links to excellent pieces by friends and fellow bloggers Dave Magee and Steve Stockman. Gary Mason the Superintendent minister ofEast Belfast Mission, and Glenn Jordan, the director of the Skainos Project, have also offered their personal reflections on the events that have impacted on them personally, on the ministry of EBM/Skainos and the lives of those living and working in the area.
It has taken me, however, substantially more time to gather my thoughts sufficiently to offer the following fragmented reflections. I hope that my musings don’t re-ignite any tensions, but I do believe that the events of that night, the run up to it and fallout from it deserve further thought… I was going to post it as a single blog of short snapshots, but it grew beyond that and so I’ll be rolling out a few connected posts over the next …