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three ways to walk in the way of the Holy Spirit

Posted on May 20, 2018 at 5:30 AM

Sermon: 20 May 2018; Pentecost

May my words be in the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Those of a certain age will remember Green Shield Stamps. They were sheets of little green stamps given out with petrol, shopping, and various other purchases. The stamps were glued into the pages of little booklets. And the books could be used at special stores to redeem various things. Pots and pans and sets of cutlery and dining ware were very popular. One book would get you something small, perhaps a little toy or a spatula; and many, many books would get you something expensive, perhaps one of those Sunbeam electric multi-cookers that were all the rage in the early 70s.

My mother was mad into collecting these stamps; and for several years in a row it was in this manner that my Christmas presents were sourced. One that I remember in particular was a little carpenter's set I got when I was around nine. These were in the days when the idea of health and safety was pretty much unheard of, so the tools it contained were real: small, but very usable. There was no plastic in them; every thing was metal and wood. And so it had a real little hammer, that could bang real nails into wood; a real screwdriver; a real awl that could actually bore holes into timber; a real carpenter's square and pencil; and a real saw, with sharp metal teeth that made short work of half-inch ply and lengths of two-by-one.

I appreciate the safety concerns that no longer allow small children to be given such things … but I have to say I learned a lot from having that little set … sawing and hammering and using a screwdriver and making sure that your angles are right before you cut are real life skills and helped me learn the basics of woodworking before I was big enough to move onto the full-sized tools in my father's garage.

But, of course, I would have learned nothing from that gift if I had not taken the tools out of the box and used them. And the world is full of such things – wonderful gifts that have very practical purposes, but achieve nothing because the person who receives them never opens the box, or sticks them on shelf or in a drawer or cupboard and never does anything with them, or uses them a couple of times and then gives up because its a bit of work to learn how to use them correctly, or because some new distraction comes along and they are forgotten.

The Holy Spirit, the person of the Trinity who features so prominently in our readings on this Day of Pentecost, is a gift that can be treated that way by some. He is, of course, a gift we are all given – 'Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' the bishop said to us all when he laid his hands upon us as we were confirmed. And having the Holy Spirit in our lives is important … if this were not the case, Christ would not have promised his disciples he would send him … and when that promise was fulfilled, we can see the dramatic difference his coming made to those early followers of our Lord … they went from being people hiding in an upper room, afraid of what would happen to them if they so much as showed their faces, much less preaching the Word of God boldly … and became fearless proclaimers of his Truth, not afraid to face any one or anything for the sake of preaching the Gospel, not even afraid of torture and death.

And so having been given this gift we must not let it sit idle; but we must work to develop it within us. This can be done in many ways; but today let me suggest just three to you. The first is by frequent reading of a particular book of the Bible, the Acts of the Apostle. This book, perhaps more than any other, details for us what happens when the Holy Spirit falls upon a Christian soul and is fully embraced. It is to be read carefully, as all of Sacred Scripture is, for encouragement and inspiration. See how the Holy Spirit transformed them; realise how it can transform you; and open your hearts to him so that he may.

The next is by listening to what St Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians as to how to walk in the Spirit. First he warns us against the works of the flesh, which are contrary to the Spirit; these are 'fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these'. These are to be avoided for, as St Paul tells us, those who do such things will 'not inherit the kingdom of heaven'. Instead we must lead our lives according to the word of God and the guidance of his Spirit; we must, as St Paul teaches, do as those who truly belong to Christ do and crucify 'the flesh with its passions and desires'; then will our lives be filled with the fruits of his Spirit which are 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control'.

Lastly, we must make room in our lives for silence; for God is found in the silence as the prophet Elijah discovered and which we read about in First Kings. Therefore we must bring silence into our lives … both to let God and his Holy Spirit in … and to keep the world and its noise and all its temptations out … think of so much that is on the radio and television, what is broadcast over the internet, what comes out of Hollywood and the music industry … and then compare it to what St Paul called the works of the flesh … the things that will deny us the kingdom of heaven … there is much, much too much of the works of the flesh in the noise of the world … and very little that leads to the fruits of the Spirit … and so making time for prayerful silence in our lives is making time for God … and making time for the salvation of our souls …

I still have the little hammer from that carpenter's set … although nearly fifty years have passed since I was given it, it still remains as good as ever and it makes for a very useful tack hammer. As far as gifts go, one could say that it has withstood the test of time. But, however much I may treasure it, it remains just a hammer; but the gift of the Holy Spirit is a far greater gift … for it is a gift that, if properly received, and constantly fostered within in us, will last beyond time … it will last unto and lead us into eternal life … somewhere that I pray that all here will find themselves on that great and terrible day at the end of the ages in the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 20 May 2018: Pentecost (liturgical colour ??? Red)

Posted on May 19, 2018 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Congratulations to Mervyn and Emma, the new Mrs & Mrs Parr; and to Lee and Shannon, the new Mr & Mrs Wilson. We wish both couples every happiness over the course of many years of wedded bliss.

 

+Monday 21

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.' Mark 10.21

Reflection

It was out of love, for the sake of his immortal soul, that Jesus told the rich young man to let go of the things of this world. How does this warning apply to your life? Do the treasures of this life – including the praise of others - mean more to you than those of heaven?

+ Tuesday 22

'There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not receive a 100-fold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10.29, 30

Reflection

The sacrifices one makes in this life are abundantly made up for by one's joining into the fellowship of the family of Church. What is more, things that will soon fade away are given up for the sake of what is eternal.

+Wednesday 23

'Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.' Mark. 10.43,44

Reflection

It is one of the seeming paradoxes of the Christian life that greatness is attained through humility, and lordship by humble service. But in truth, there is no paradox at all, for the things of the world are a passing splendour; and the things that bring greatness in this life matter not at all in the next.

+Thursday 24

'And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.' Luke 16. 9

Reflection

What is translated here as 'dishonest wealth' might be better put as 'worldly riches.' Christ is telling his disciples to use the goods they are blessed with in this life as but another means of entering into eternal life.

+Friday 25

He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written,“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”?  But you have made it a den of robbers.’  Mark 11. 17

 

Reflection

God's house is a holy place. Are you careful to behave with due reverence at all times when you are within?

+Saturday 326

So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’ Mark 11. 33

Reflection:

The source of Jesus's authority was before their eyes, even as was that of John's. Sometimes people just want not to believe, no matter what the evidence. Pray for them, that their blindness will be lifted.

 

+Sun 27 May, Trinity Sunday of Month – Liturgical colour Green - As this is the festival day of one of the churches in our Union, Holy Trinity Bilboa – the only service in our union that day will be a United one of Holy Communion in that church at 11 am

 

Coming up this Week

+25 May (Friday): referendum on the Eighth Amendment. The text of the Eighth reads: 'The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.' If repealed, it would be replaced with the following: 'Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.' The proposed legislation allows for abortion without restriction up to 12-weeks and under specified circumstances thereafter. The Archbishops of the Church of Ireland have expressed grave concerns about these proposals. Please reflect prayerfully on this issue; and remember to vote on the day.

Notes & Advance notices

+9 June: Wandesforde NS fund-raising cycle

+Sep 15th: Bishop Burrows invites those confirmed by him to a Confirmation Celebration in Bishop’s House, Kilkenny. Please contact the rector for details for how to get an invitation for this RSVP event.

 

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677

[email protected]

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

our true home

Posted on May 13, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The advent of low cost air lines means that most people today in the Western world know what it is to travel abroad. But it is a very different thing to live somewhere than to visit it. As it happens I have, during the course of my adult life, lived in a variety of foreign countries: in England as a student; in Israel as a Kibbutz volunteer; and in Portugal and the United States during the course of my military career. And it is a very interesting experience. On the one hand you want to fit in with the local culture as far as possible. But on the other you don't wish to lose sight of where you came from either. It is an essential part of your identity, of who you are.

You find yourself doing things to help maintain that connection with home that might otherwise seem a little odd. You get people to send you 'care packages' filled with Irish treats such as Mars bars, packets of Tayto, and Barry's tea; some even go so far as to get friends coming over on a visit to bring them Irish rashers, sausages, and black puddings. If you find a shop that sells such things you become a regular customer. And elements of Irish culture that you would have ignored while living at home suddenly become of great interest. Wild horses, for example, would have been unable to drag me to a Chieftain’s concert as a young man at home in Cork; and yet a few years later, while living in Florida, I found myself driving for two hours so I could see them play live. Why? Because it helped me while I was living abroad keep in touch with my real self, with my Irish identity.

But here is the interesting thing. Even those who have never moved so much as a mile from where they were born ought to understand what it is like to live in a foreign land. For while all of us may live in the world, Christians do not, as our Lord tells us in our Gospel reading today, belong to the world. Christians, as the commonly used phrase derived from John 17 has it, are in the world but not of the world. At our baptisms, when we died to sin and rose again to new life in Christ, something remarkable happened to us. We became citizens of somewhere else, somewhere not of this world; we became, as the Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians, citizens of heaven.

This means that the core identity of each of us is as a Christian, a person who lives in this world, as we all must do, but lives that life in the light of eternity. This does not mean we care nothing for the society in which we live – far from it. Indeed, St Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that we are to be good citizens of wherever it is that we live. But in doing so we can never allow ourselves to forget that we are Christians first, people whose actions in this world must always be guided by the principles of our faith.

This can be a costly exercise. Those who live according to the values of the world do not like opposition. This should not surprise us; Christ himself said of his disciples 'the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world.' And Christians have indeed always faced hatred. The Church Fathers tell us of the ways in which the early Christians stood out from the society in which they lived. They refused,

for example, to take part in the sexual immorality prevalent at the time, and confined themselves to marriage – with marriage being for life, as Christ taught. They abhorred the abortion and exposure of babies that was a common practice of their age – exposure being the taking of a newborn infant, particularly girls or those who were disabled in some way, and leaving them outside somewhere to die, either from the elements, hunger, or, most likely, being killed by wild beasts. We may be proud, I think, that our ancestors in the faith hated this practice so much that they made it their business to rescue every child they could find who had been left to die in this appalling fashion. And, of course, Christians refused to worship the false gods of their age … which included refusing to treat the emperor as a god.

All this brought the hatred of the world upon their heads … and many paid for it with their lives. But they thought it a small price to pay; just as they thought having the love of the world at the cost of eternal life too great a price a pay. Many in the world today continue to pay that price – the age of the martyrs is not something from the past but one that runs unbroken from the time of Christ to today and will most likely continue to the end of the ages. We are fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where what is called 'red martyrdom', dying for the faith, is rare and unlikely. But that does not mean that we will not face challenges. In our society matters connected with traditional Christian values often become what are called 'contentious issues' … and the sneering and unpleasantness faced by those who try, as good citizens in the world, to oppose those changes, or indeed simply try to live their lives quietly according to Christian values, is not taken lightly. It is never easy to put your head above the parapet and say you disagree with what the world has decided to declare good.

This is why it is important for us to always stay connected with our faith. Like the person living abroad, the Christian must never neglect to do those things that help support them to continue in what is their true identity. And so we must through all our time in this world be diligent in those things that are required of those whose true citizenship is in heaven. This means regular prayers – St Paul, you will remember, exhorted us to constant prayer; it means frequent reading of the Scriptures – as St Jerome told us, ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ; study of the Church's teaching and traditions – St Paul in many places, as well as Church Fathers such as St Irenaeus and St Athanasius, remind us of their importance; and, of course, our duty to gather together in public worship of the Almighty – something commended to us by Scripture too often to enumerate here.

The importance of this cannot be underestimated. It is sad indeed when an emigrant returns home only to realise that his old country is his home no longer; but at least he still has a home in his adopted country to return to. But if we lose sight of our citizenship of heaven, where will there be for us to go at the end of the ages? It is a loss to great to contemplate; and therefore it is a loss that I hope that none here will ever be faced with: this I pray in the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 13 May 2018: Easter Seven (liturgical colour ??? White)

Posted on May 12, 2018 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service

GFS annual service this afternoon at 2.30pm in St Canice's

 

+ Monday 14

'In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’ John 16.33

Reflection

Our Lord did not promise a life of ease to those who followed him; indeed, he warned them of hardship. We see many brothers and sisters today who endure suffeirng for the sake of the Gospel; their example should give us courage to face our own much more minor trials.

 

+ Tuesday 15

'Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.' John 17.11

Reflection

Christ prayed his followers should be one in a unity that mirrored that of the Holy Trinity. What efforts do you make to undo the brokenness of his Church?

 

+Wednesday 16

'I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.' John 17.14

Reflection

This world is not our true home. Why then do we so often act as if we had no other?

 

+Thursday 17

'Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.' John 17. 24

Reflection

See with what great fervour our Lord cries out to the Father that all who follow him may be saved! Why would he not - was it not for just that reason that he suffered and died for us, that we might be saved? Will you wound again the one who died for you by refusing his offer of salvation?

 

+Friday 18

‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ John 21.15 Reflection Christ asks his question using the Greek word for all-embracing, divine love; Peter responds with the tepid equivalent of admitting he likes him. How often does the love you show for God resemble that of Peter's on that day? Or is it often even less?

 

+Saturday 23

But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21.25

Reflection:

How could a short account hold within it all that the Word made flesh did during his life? Yet we have what we have, the inspired words of Sacred Scripture, and are blessed indeed to have them.

 

+Sun 20 May, Pentecost (Whit Sunday) 3nd Sunday of Month – Liturgical colour Red - services according to usual pattern; see below. This is the third most sacred day in the Christian Calendar. As full an attendance as possible is strongly encouraged.

 

Notes & Advance notices

+25 May (Friday): referendum on the Eighth Amendment. The text of the Eighth reads: 'The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.' If repealed, it would be replaced with the following: 'Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.' The proposed legislation allows for abortion without restriction up to 12-weeks and under specified circumstances thereafter. The Archbishops of the Church of Ireland have expressed grave concerns about these proposals. Please reflect prayerfully on this issue; and remember to vote on the day.

+27 May: Trinity Sunday – As this is the festival day of one of the churches in our Union, Holy Trinity Bilboa – the only service in our union that day will be a United one of Holy Communion in that church at 11 am

+9 June: Wandesforde NS fund-raising cycle

 

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677

[email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

false compassion v. real love

Posted on May 6, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I remember when the time came around ten years ago when all agreed that it was time for an aunt of mine to move into a nursing home. All but my aunt that is. She and her husband were childless and he had already moved into a home. She was becoming progressively unwell herself and needed the support of an extensive team of carers and regular visits from the district nurse to remain at home. This came to a rather abrupt end when, while she was having a spell of respite care in the same nursing home as her husband, it was decided by the medical authorities that it was no longer in her best interests to live at home. Their rather grim assessment was that if she returned home she would be dead within a few months; whereas if she was to move permanently into the nursing home there was ever chance that she would live for years with a very good quality of life. They therefore decided that that had to end all home support; because for them to otherwise would be effectively for them to be complicit in hastening her death.

I was the one dispatched to the nursing home on behalf of the family to inform her of their decision. A strong-minded and independent lady, she was not well pleased. Many phone-calls were made to various nephews and nieces, ordering them to come collect her and take her home. None did, knowing that she would returning to an empty house; and that there would be no one there to clean, cook, help her wash, do her shopping, or anything else she needed assistance with. She threatened to call a taxi and make her own way home. Which she could indeed have done; she was perfectly compos mentis; and she was certainly not some kind of a prisoner. Fortunately she did not.

It was, as I am sure all can imagine, quite distressing for all involved. It was very hard to say no to a much loved aunt, one who had been like a second mother to many of us during our childhoods, and later like another grandmother to our children. But to help to return home would have been a false compassion. It would not have been loving behaviour because it would have harmed her. Real love desires what is truly best for the other person; and sometimes that requires tough choices.

In our Gospel reading our Lord commands us to love one another. That he makes it a commandment tells us something very important about love. In the modern era many think of it as being something that we have no control over, that we either love someone or we do not. But our Lord's words make it clear that this is not the case. God does not ask us to do impossible things. He does not ask us to fly, to walk through a solid wall as if we were some kind of a ghost, to see when there is no light. But he does command us to love, which means that it is possible.

Love, real love, is not an emotion, it is a choice, an act of the will. We decide to love people. When it comes to intimate relationships the physical attraction that we call 'falling in love' may play a part initially; but if that relationship is to have any future the commitment required to make it permanent and life-long requires an act of the will. When it comes to loving others, it also requires an act of the will. There is no requirement that we fall in love with them in some way; or that, in fact, we even find them vaguely likeable. What is required of us by our Lord's command is that we treat them lovingly – and this we can do because our actions are under the control of our wills.

So what must we do to behave lovingly towards others? Well, of course, we know that this includes helping them materially. Christ has told us that food or water or clothes given to those in need is as if it were given to himself; and woe betide those who fail to do so! But Christ also tells us the we must love others as he has loved us; and he came into to world so that all might be saved. This means that to love others we must consider not just their material needs but their spiritual also. The love that we show them must help them on the path to eternal life. And so just as we understand that in order to love God we must keep his commandments, so we must help others to understand this also.

This will often place us in what might be termed an awkward position. Because it means that when we see others doing wrong it is not ok for us to smile and nod and say it is their choice and all choices are equally good. It is indeed their choice, for God gives to all free-will; but those things that go against God's law are not good and we are obliged to say so … not because we wish to tell others what to do but because, out of love, we must warn them of the risks they run and the dangers they face in rejecting what God asks of all his children.

This also, I would suggest, means we must not help people to break God's laws. We should not, for example, lend money to a friend knowing that he plans to use it for drunkenness, gluttony, or debauchery; we should not give a married friend the use of our car for the evening to drive to a liaison with someone other than his or her spouse; and we should oppose laws that make it easier for people to do what commands us not to do. They may do these things anyway; but we do not show love for them, the real love that desires what is best for them in the light of eternity, if we help them to do these things in any way.

Because the help that a person asks for is not always the help that they truly need, what is in their real best interests. And because giving it actually harms them, it is a false compassion. Such false compassion would have persuaded the members of my extended family to return my aunt to her home as she asked for; where she would have soon died. The real love that was shown her has meant that she continues to live in the nursing home with her husband, both receiving the care they need. This love has brought her ten years of happy and healthy life; and will, God willing, bring her many years more. But that kind of love shown to those around us will bring them far more, if they are willing to accept it – eternal life in heaven. I pray that you will show then always the love that they need … just as I pray that others will show you that love also … so that all may one abide for ever in heaven in the love of God: Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 6 May 2018: Easter Six (liturgical colour ??? White)

Posted on May 5, 2018 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service

 

+ Monday 7

‘Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.’ John 16.3

Reflection

Christ warned us that there is a real possibility of suffering for our faith. Do not grumble then if you suffer some minor inconvenience for yours; rather, thank God for it, and the witness of those who suffer far more.

 

+ Tuesday 8

‘It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.’ John 18.8

 

Reflection

Christ promised to send the Church his Holy Spirit. That promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. He has not left us alone in our faith.

 

+Wednesday 9

‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.’ John 16.13

 

Reflection

Christ guides his Church. When the world brings troubles and challenges, do not fear then that she will be led astray.

 

+Thursday 10 The Ascension

‘Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.’ Luke 24. 50,51

 

Reflection

Christ blessed his disciples at this Ascension. He further blessed them with the sending of his Holy Spirit soon after. He continues to bless us today and always.

 

+ Friday 11

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’ John 15.12 Reflection Christ’s love entailed laying down his life for us. Therefore, no sacrifice we make for our brothers and sisters, especially those that lead them to Christ, can be too great.

+Saturday 12

‘I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’ John 16.28

 

Reflection:

Christ left the world, yet is with us still. For did he not promise that he is with us until the end of the ages?

 

+Sun 13 May, 7th Sunday of Easter, 2nd Sunday of Month – Liturgical colour White/Gold - services according to usual pattern; see below.

 

Coming up this week:

+Tue 8pm Select Vestry Meeting, Wandesforde Hall

+Thur: The Ascension Day – the usual early morning service will take place in Rosmore at 8am, followed by breakfast. Please let the rector know if you intend attending so that the catering can be planned for! Canon Tarelton will lead the service.

+Thurs – Sat: General Synod, Armagh. Please pray for all in attendance, not only for safe journeys but that all they do will be in accordance with God's will and for his greater glory in the world.

+Sat: fundraiser for church repairs, St. Fintan's Church (CofI) Durrow, 7.30pm. Features the Blessington Millennium Choir. Admission free, donations welcome!

 

Notes & Advance notices

+20 May; Pentecost (Whit Sunday): This is the third most sacred day in the Christian Calendar. As full an attendance as possible is strongly encouraged.

+27 May: Trinity Sunday – As this is the festival day of one of the churches in our Union, Holy Trinity Bilboa – the only service in our union that day will be a United one of Holy Communion in that church at 11 am.

+Christian Aid Week is coming up and Christian Aid is looking for someone to run a coffee morning or some other fundraiser in aid of its important work. If you are interested in doing so, please contact the rector.

 

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677

[email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

nothing but the truth

Posted on April 29, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I had a phone call from a doctor the other day, a consultant obstetrician. He wanted to talk with me about something that was on his mind, the essence of which is that Ireland has become a very dark place and is becoming darker. It wasn't exactly a random call – he and I had met couple of times – once at a funeral and once as I was leaving the hospital he works in after visiting someone there. From these two brief encounters he had formed the opinion that I was someone who would understand where he was coming from.

I guess he was right because I tend to agree with him. In many ways Ireland is a bright, shiny, modern country – after all we have motorways and smart-phones and broadband … if you live somewhere you can get broadband … but for all the material advances and the trappings of affluence in most lives there is indeed a great darkness hanging over the land … many, I imagine, can't see it … but that would be because it is a spiritual darkness … the kind of darkness that comes when large numbers of people start to think that there really is no such thing as objective truth when it comes to moral and ethical questions and all that really matters is how they feel about the decisions they make …

Theologians have a special name for this way of thinking, this philosophy if you will. Of course they do! They call it relativism. Essentially it consists of the idea that in such matters different people can have different truths. One is not better than the other, each is equally good, equally valid.

But such relativism is not the Christian way. 'I am the true vine,' we hear Jesus say in our reading from St John today. He did not mean by that that he was the true vine for some but not for others. He is the true vine for all. Some, of course, may refuse to accept him as the true vine. That is their choice. God gave us all free will. But their rejection does not lessen the truth of what he says. That is what objective truth is all about. It remains the truth, no matter who rejects it … even if the vast majority reject it.

We, of course, are Christians. This means that we accept the truth of what he told us, the teachings he has passed on to us through the Sacred Scriptures and Traditions of his Church. But even we need to be reminded sometimes that when it comes to the truth, this kind of Truth, you must accept it all. For if you say, either openly or in your heart, that you believe A and B of what Christ taught, but not C, that A and B are necessary for the salvation of souls, but not C, that God surely could not care about C, then you are letting the spiritual darkness of the age enter your own soul; for Christ himself gave that teaching to us as of the truth he taught …

Such a person is surely on dangerous ground indeed, for how can such a one, someone who says I will obey this teaching and that teaching but this other one, this I do not like! This teaching I will not obey and it does not matter because I do not believe in it, even though it is part of the Truth that Christ gave his Church. Can such a one be said to abide in Christ? It is not for me to say; but I would worry for them, and think of our Lord's words in our Gospel reading today – if a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown in the fire, and burned.

Sobering words. Sobering words indeed. But it is important here to remember that there is a difference between someone who rejects Christ's words and being someone who accepts them and occasionally fails to live up to them … or even fails to live up to them often! The first, the one who rejects our Lord's teachings and refuses to believe that he has done anything wrong, they will never ask God's forgiveness and his Grace to do better in the future. The other, they do indeed sin, but they know they sin; they have fallen prey to the many temptations that surround us … but they understand that they have done wrong and ask God's pardon … they repent and ask his strength to do better in the future.

And that strength that they pray for when asking God's forgiveness will be given. For weak and frail though they are, they are the branches that abide in Christ, the branches that, as he tells us also in our reading today, bear much fruit … branches that his Father, the vine-dresser, will prune so that they may bear even more fruit.

This is good news indeed. Good news for us, for we are all sinners; and good news for the world … good news for the world because of something that Christ said elsewhere … that his followers are the light of the world. It is a reflected light, of course, because Christ is the one who is truly the light of the world; but those who follow him faithfully help shine his light into the world.

And this is something that the world desperately needs, threatened as it is by so much darkness. God sent his Son into the world that all might be saved; and the Son sends us and all his followers that his saving word might be known to all. We must pray that all who hear it will choose to be branches that are part of the true vine … and that they will continue always to abide in the vine which is Christ so that they will bear much fruit … just as I pray that all here will abide always in Christ and bear much fruit all through their lives so that at the last they will abide with God forever in heaven - Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 29 April 2018: Easter Four (liturgical colour ??? White)

Posted on April 28, 2018 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service

 

+ Monday 30

'They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me.' John 14.21

Reflection

Christ calls us to show our love for him by obedience to what he teaches. How then can you fail to do as he commands?

 

+ Tuesday 1 May (St Philip & St James, Apostles)

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' John 14.6

 

Reflection

Christ is the gateway to salvation. And it is a gate that none may pass through who are willfully disobedient of his commands and remain unrepentant of how they have offended against God's law.

 

+Wednesday 2

'Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.' John 15.6

 

Reflection

To reject Christ is to reject all he offers. Do not be seduced by the false promises of the world; cling instead to Christ, the one who has the words of eternal life.

 

+Thursday 3

'If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.' John 15.10

 

Reflection

To abide in God's love means living as Christ did, a life of love and obedience to the Father. Nothing we do can cause God not to love us; but we can, by our actions, reject him, and thereby reject the eternal life he offers to all who love him.

 

+ Friday 4

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.' John 15. 12,13

 

Reflection: The faithfulness unto death of Christian martyrs have brought many to faith. Just as Christ laid down his life for us that we might have eternal life, so we must be ready to follow the example of our Lord and die for the sake of eternal life for others.

 

+Saturday 5

‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. ' John 15. 18

 

Reflection:

Faithfulness to Christ may bring you the mockery or hatred of others. It may even bring you death. What does that matter as long as you are faithful to Christ?

 

+Sun 6 May, 6th Sunday of Easter, 1st Sunday of Month – Liturgical colour White/Gold - services according to usual pattern; see below.

 

Coming up this week:

+Tue: MU Closing Service 8 pm, the Colliery Church: Preacher Dean Tom Gordon

Notes & Advance notices

+8 May (Tue) 8pm Select Vestry Meeting, Wandesforde Hall

+10 May: The Ascension Day – the usual early morning service will take place in Rosmore at 8am, followed by breakfast. Please let the rector know if you intend attending so that the catering can be planned for! Canon Tarelton will be leading the service – his last opportunity to do so. We wish him well as he prepares for his move – even as we commiserate with Killeshin Union on his loss. Not having his wisdom and experience on our doorsteps will be felt by all in the area.

+20 May; Pentecost (Whit Sunday): This is the third most sacred day in the Christian Calendar. As full an attendance as possible is strongly encouraged.

+27 May: Trinity Sunday – As this is the festival day of one of the churches in our Union, Holy Trinity Bilboa – the only service in our union that day will be a United one of Holy Communion in that church at 11 am.

+Christian Aid Week is coming up and Christian Aid is looking for someone to run a coffee morning or some other fundraiser in aid of its important work. If you are interested in doing so, please contact the rector.

 

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677

[email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

 

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

the faith - what you have signed up for!

Posted on April 22, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

When I joined the US Army I had to take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. I remember the day well. We were gathered in a large, low-ceilinged room in a recruiting centre in North Florida. The décor was quite dull, as were all government offices at the time – a very plain, beige carpet, walls painted a nondescript shade of green, and with a scattering of desks and chairs, all the standard government issue gunmetal grey. The only splash of colour was the red, white, and blue of the flag in the presence of which the oath had to be taken.

The people who were to take that oath with me that day varied considerably. They ranged in from late teens to mid-thirties, covering the whole span from youngest to oldest ages at which a person might join up. Some were Black, some Hispanic, some Asian, others, like myself, Caucasian. Perhaps other ethnic groups were represented, but nothing stands out in my memory. The style of dress varied greatly also. Some were in t-shirts and jeans, a few in hoodies; a small number were dressed quite formally, men in suits, women in dresses. The majority would have been somewhere in between – smart casual is the term, I believe – the men wearing proper shirts but no ties with neatly ironed trousers, and the women blouses and skirts.

Really, the whole melting pot that is American society was represented there that day. But whatever their age, ethnicity, or socio-economic background all there had one thing in common: they were all prepared to make a solemn pledge that if need be they would die to defend the values of their society and the democratic way of life.

Most soldiers know, of course, that they will never be called upon to make that ultimate sacrifice. Even in times of war most in uniform have a very good chance, statistically speaking, of avoiding not just death but serious injury as well. But that was not what Jesus was signing up for, so to speak, when he became man. Death was certain. As he says in our Gospel today, He is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep – the sheep being all of mankind, all those who have ever lived or ever will live.

And like a soldier, he laid down his life for a purpose. That purpose was the salvation of all mankind. But unlike a soldier he had the power not only to lay down his life, he had the power to take it up again. And by his rising he destroyed the power that death had over his flock – like him all would die; and like him all would rise again – but to eternal life on the last day.

But until that day comes, he left work for his flock to do. In our Gospel we also hear our Lord speaking of the sheep who are not of this fold who must be brought in also. Jesus was telling his disciples that he had not come only for the Jews, but for all the people of the world. This is a teaching that he would give to his followers more than once – for example at the end of Matthew's Gospel in what is often called the Great Commission where he told them make disciples of all peoples.

And how are we progressing with that work? Well, with over two billion Christians in the world some might think not badly. But if we consider that there are around six billion people in the world there is clearly much that needs to be done. Indeed, perhaps much more than we might first think. Firstly, how many of those two billion are Christians in name only, people who although they are baptised live no differently to those who are not, people who would never dream of allowing the teachings of their faith to interfere with how they live? And secondly, there is our Lord's teaching that there should be one flock and one shepherd. And there is indeed only one shepherd and can be only one, our Lord himself, but the flock is sadly divided into many thousands of different denominations.

So there remains much work to be done. And looking to further words of our Lord's in today's gospel, the place to begin that work is, as always, with ourselves. We must not be as those he condemns as hirelings, who care nothing for the flock. And because Jesus commanded all his followers to make disciples of all nations, all have a role in caring for his flock – both in increasing it by bringing more in and maintaining it by supporting and encouraging those already within the fold in the faith. All, of course, have different roles to play; but there are certain basics that all must fulfil. The first is we that must know our faith. This involves both the regular reading of scripture and educating oneself in the teachings of the faith. Studying what the Church teaches did not end with Confirmation class – that was only supposed to be the beginning of a new stage in your journey of faith! Next, we must live our faith. Private prayer and regular attendance at public worship are a vital part of this. Those blessed with having the care of children and young people must ensure they are instructed in the faith – part of which is the example of godly living that they see in the home. Decisions, small and especially great, must be proceeded by prayer and careful consideration of what it is that the doctrines of the faith instruct us as to what is right and wrong in particular situations – by which I mean the teachings given by Christ to his Apostles and handed down by his Church generation after generation, not some new and fashionable thought that someone came up with five minutes ago. And third and last we must proclaim our faith. I do not mean by this standing on the side of the road holding up a sign that says 'sinner repent!', but rather in our everyday interactions with others. If someone tries to get you involved in some deal that means cheating of some kind – a good price for cash, for example, but no receipts so that the taxman need never know – not only say no, but say why you're saying no. If you are discussing the issues of the day with friends, don't be afraid to make it clear that your Christian faith informs your views. If an election candidates comes knocking on your door, make it clear that if they want your vote they have to represent your values … and if it happens to be someone who said one thing to you last time round and then behaved another once elected, make it clear that they needn't expect your vote this time and why. And, of course, when you do vote cast it in accordance with those Christian values. Secularists make no bones about trying to see their values enshrined as matters of public policy – why should a Christian feel it is wrong to also vote in the way he or she feels is right? And, in any case, if Christians will not vote in support of Christians values, then who will?

This may seem like a lot. But really it is not. It is simply a small part of what it is to live as a Christian in the world – something, I will add, that you faithfully promised that you would do as part of the vows you made at Confirmation. These, rather like a soldier's oath, commit you to serve as Christ's witnesses in the world. Such living is not something you will be awarded medals for - indeed, many in the world many condemn you for your fidelity to Christ. But this should not dismay us but rather cheer us. Christ told us to be afraid if the world hates us, for it hated him first; and his followers all through the ages always considered it a great privilege to suffer for the sake of his name. Indeed, we even today we have a title of great honour for those who die for the faith – martyr. But even if our fidelity brings neither medals nor martyrdom, it brings us something greater: eternal life in heaven. And this is something for which we must thank God always: Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 22 April 2018: Easter Four (liturgical colour ??? White)

Posted on April 21, 2018 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service

 

+ Monday 23

'The sheep follow (the shepherd of the sheep) because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him.' John 10. 4,5

Reflection

Christ is the good shepherd and we are his sheep. If we would hear his voice we must listen only to those who speak with his voice, the voice that is to be heard in Sacred Scripture and the teachings o

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary

 

22 April 2018: Easter Four (liturgical colour – White)

 his Church. From the voice of all others we must flee.

 

+ Tuesday 24

'My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.' John 10. 27,28

Reflection

To listen to the voice of the one true shepherd is to be blessed indeed. Those who do know God and are known by him - and at the last will be with Him in Paradise.

 

+Wednesday 25

'The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge.' John 12.48

Reflection

Christ died for us that we might be saved. And those who reject him will be judged according to his Word.

 

+Thursday 26

'Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.’ John 12.20

Reflection

Christ appointed his apostles who in turn laid their hands upon others and so on down to the day. Those who will receive Christ must receive those whom he entrusted with the leadership of his Church and the handing on of his teaching.

 

+ Friday 27

'Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ 

John 14. 6

Reflection: 

This is a hard teaching for our age. But they are Christ's own words. Therefore you must believe them, live them, and proclaim them.

+Saturday 28

'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  ' John 14. 9-10

Reflection:

Do not be troubled if you find the oneness of the Son with the Father difficult to understand, for the Apostles themselves found it difficult. Rather consider why it is that you, a limited human being, might think that you should be able to understand all the mysteries of the universe and the One who created it.

 

+Sun 29 April, 5th Sunday of Easter, 5th Sunday of Month – Liturgical colour White/Gold - United Service of Holy Communion in Mothel Church at 11 am

 

Notes & Advance notices

+29 April: 5th Sunday of month; united service of Holy Communion in Mothel Church at 11 am

+10 May: The Ascension Day – the usual early morning service will take place in Rosmore at 8am, followed by breakfast. Please let the rector know if you intend attending so that the catering can be planned for! Canon Tarelton will be leading the service – his last opportunity to do so. We wish him well as he prepares for his move – even as we commiserate with Killeshin Union on his loss. Not having his wisdom and experience on our doorsteps will be felt by all in the area.

+20 May; Pentecost (Whit Sunday): This is the third most sacred day in the Christian Calendar. As full an attendance as possible is strongly encouraged.

+27 May: Trinity Sunday – As this is the festival day of one of the churches in our Union, Holy Trinity Bilboa – the only service in our union that day will be a United one of Holy Communion in that church at 11 am.

+The table quiz in aid of the 'Comer community hall raised in excess of €1500 on the night. Well done to all who supported and intended. However, as around €100,000 is needed to cover the works required this is clearly only the beginning!

 

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677

[email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

 

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!


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