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Showing posts from April, 2014

A Prayer for Doubters

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A short prayer inspired by the Gospel reading for today which features Thomas, the patron saint of the sceptical post-evangelical world, and based in part on the collect for today in the Methodist Worship Book. Faithful God, the strength of all who believe and the hope of those who doubt: we thank you that you call us to faith not certainty, and pray that you will remind us that you have faith in us even when our heads and hearts are full of questions. May we, who have not seen, still have faith, and so receive the fullness of Christ’s promised blessing. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who keeps coming back so that we can all poke and prod at his open wounds and no-one need be left out. AMEN

Redeeming Violence?

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Last weekend there were a number of celebrations of the Easter Rising that is seen as the key moment in modern Irish republicanism. Many of these celebrations had a greater "historical re-enactment" character than in previous years (which were more overt celebrations of the more recent Republican campaign of violence) akin to the recent re-enactments associated with the celebrations of the Ulster Covenant etc. This is clearly only a dry run for a full blown re-enactment in 2 years time... By that stage, the only thing missing will be the Royal Navy lying at anchor in Dublin Bay and firing a broadside in commemoration of the flattening of central Dublin by them! Doubtless the commemorations will take place over Easter weekend in 2016, as they did this and every other year, but the actual anniversary of the beginning of the rising on Easter Monday is 24th April. 98 years ago today Patrick Pearse stood on the steps of the GPO and proclaimed the creation of the Republic of Irel…

Christian Britain and other Nonsense

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When my sister in law drew my attention last week to the Daily Torygraph's article about David Cameron's Christian credo and his description of Britain as a Christian country, I have to say I wasn't terribly surprised. It was off the back of a Church Times article where the PM seems to have been fishing for the support of the nice, middle of the road, Vicar of Dibley-esque wing of the Church of England against all those nasty Bishops and pink-tinged foodbank volunteers who have been giving him and his government a hard time recently. My sister-in-law was of a similar mindset to those who wrote a  letter to the Telegraph to express their belief that his description of Britain as a Christian country would prove divisive... Well, clearly it has... it has divided the country into those who write letters about such things and those who don't. I also don't want to cast doubts on David Cameron's faith, as Tony "Does he think of himself as a Christian or as Chris…

Christ is Still Risen

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(Thought for the Day on Radio Ulster, Easter Monday 21st April 2014) Alleluia. Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!Alleluia! With those words Christian churches across the English-speaking world began or ended their services yesterday. But let me let you into a secret… There are many pastors, priests and preachers who, by the end of the last service yesterday, were secretly thinking Alleluia! It is over… Because whilst Holy Week and Easter is THE most important week of the Christian calendar, it can end up like the spiritual equivalent of a decathlon… with services throughout the week, prayer meetings, home communions, extended vigils on Good Friday and early morning services yesterday, often followed by baptisms, communions and/or special Easter celebration services… Some of my friends think that Holy Week is the only week of the year I do a full week’s work… But many ministers down tools on Easter Monday for a few days, and frequently take the Sunday after Easter off. That Sunday has tra…

Return to Emmaus

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An amended reblog of a dialogue that we will be using today in our Easter Communion service at Belfast South...

Both:    You’ll never believe who we met…

Cleopas:    Really…

Persis:       You’ll never believe it… It was amazing…

Cleopas:    Astounding…

Persis:       We didn’t recognise him ourselves at first…

Cleopas:    Now I had a wee inkling from the time he started talking to us…

Persis:       Actually Cleopas was really cheeky when he asked what we were talking about…Asked him what planet he was on over the past few days that he hadn’t heard what had happened in Jerusalem…

Cleopas:    I told him all that had happened over the previous few days…

Persis: I’m really embarrassed… There’s us telling him what had happened… As if he didn’t know!!!

Cleopas:    He genuinely didn’t seem to know what had been going on…

Persis:    It was dreadful to really think what had gone on… We were really devastated… All our hopes seemed to have been nailed to that cro…

The Blacksmith

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A piece written for a Waterfront Hall event by New Irish Arts on Easter Saturday 2001. It's a long time ago now, but it's actually inspired by an even older piece which was, I think, written by Patrick Evans and performed by Pete Craig, fellow Bedlam "inmates", back in April 1986... I never actually saw that script, so I can't tell you whether I stole any lines, though I doubt that I retained any over the intervening 15 years.

(Blacksmith working at an anvil throughout) Holiday-makers! Damned nuisance if you ask me! Every year it's the same Hardly any work for the ten months after Pentecost, then they all flock into Jerusalem for the Passover. And they all want a few wee jobs done when they're here. Pots and pans. Shoeing the odd horse, and let me tell you, some of the horses they ask me to shoe are pretty odd! Mending a set of scales. Watch out that's a precision instrument they tell you. Hah! That's what I think of their precision instruments! (B…

Heroes and Villains, Saints and Sinners

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Hero or villain. Saint or sinner. No. I’m not talking about Luis Suarez, but I’m a Liverpool fan, so you might guess my opinion there. How we define people often depends on our personal perspective and the truth is usually more complicated than such a simple definition. We in this province know that well, particularly in the messy business of making peace after a period of prolonged and profound conflict. (You just have to check out the responses to the presence of Martin McGuinness at the state banquet in Windsor Castle last week for evidence of that.) This is Holy week, the run-up to Good Friday, where we reflect on the price Jesus paid to make peace between us and God, followed by the resurrection joy of Easter Day. Personally I’m fascinated by the characters we’ve traditionally portrayed as villains in the Holy Week story. Judas Iscariot - wondering what his motivation was for betraying his teacher. Was it all just a matter of money or something else? Pilate, the ultimate populist …

Leaders Learn and Lead

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"A week is a long time in politics," Harold Wilson is reputed to have said 50 years ago... Time seems to have got faster in the subsequent half-century, and this past week has flown past, meaning that after promising further posts in a day or two, here I am not having posted anything in a week... But that week has seen a substantial range of political developments here in Northern Ireland...

Including:
Last Monday night Belfast City Council voted to extend a welcome to Pope Francis if there is a papal visit in the near future... This to the outsider may at first be seen as a step towards a more inclusive city, but Unionist councillors abstained in the vote, with the UUP's Jim Rodgers speaking out against the visit as he had done in the previous week's Belfast Telegraph, warning of possible trouble on the streets.Then throughout the week there has been a dingdong about Welfare Reform, with the DUP, from various angles( eg. here and here), accusing Sinn Fein of econo…