Thursday, June 29, 2017

Holy Land Pilgrimage - Brochure Launched tonight

If you, like many others, have often thought about visiting the Holy Land to see the places frequented by our Lord during His earthly ministry, you now have the perfect opportunity. The Revd Robert Ferris, Associate Minister of Carrigrohane Union of Parishes, has led 2 Pilgrimages in the past is planning a similar pilgrimage in 2018 - and all are welcome.

Less than 2% of the current population are Christians and many of them live under very difficult circumstances. Reflecting on this the itinerary will include not just the places where Jesus taught and healed, but also other places where a new generation of his followers teach and heal today. This comprehensive 11-day pilgrimage to the Land of the Bible will depart on 12th November, returning on 22nd November 2018.

The cost of the trip is 2650 per person, which is based on sharing a twin-bedded room with private facilities.

Here is an intro video from the tour company ...




A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is maybe not for everyone, but it is surprising how many people make return journeys. Here are some of the memories held by previous pilgrims:

"Just to have been in the Holy Land is a moving experience that brings the Bible to life in a way no simple words or pictures ever could."

"I was deeply touched at the Garden Tomb, the Shepherds' Field and on the Sea of Galilee in a storm."

"My first impression of Jerusalem was of a noisy, bustling, dirty city, but through the Damascus Gate and into the walled city is the real Jerusalem. Hiving with people, small narrow streets and alleyways; little shops selling everything under the sun, and the smell of spices, herbs and coffee."

"Little churches celebrating events in the life of Jesus, visiting church of all kinds - some simple and quiet, some ornate but all built to the glory of God."

"Walking up the Kidron Valley after a sandstorm, discovering Absalom's Pillar, being on the Sea of Galilee and having Holy Communion beside the sea."


Brochures & Booking forms and information is available from Robert Ferris - robert@cupcork.ie

Deposits of 250 Euro need to be in by the beginning of September to secure place.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Gab & The Church

Last night it was wonderful to welcome a whole new community into the church and it was packed! - We even had to have people up in the gallery!

The reason - we welcomed in The Gab Storytelling community who brought along Berrings Church Choir and a diverse group of story tellers, musicians, poets for a fantastic night of craic.

The reason for this blog about it was because I think it was a brilliant example of community and church joining forces to build up, to develop new relationships and to try out the new thing.

The Gab was started by local resident Mary Walsh and has been running events in Blarney and Cork in recent months with the support of local business and individuals. The Gab also participated in our Christmas Tree Festival.

100% of the proceeds of the event went to the Cope Foundation and Dogs for the Disabled. Well done to all involved!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

More words! .... just because they won't be in the essay!


At the moment in the middle of my first essay for my MA in mission - I'm very glad I've taken this week set aside to do it as there is usually so much on that it would be virtually impossible to get it done in between other things, and Christmas week is a good week for it.

As a way to begin to open the question up and to throw it open to others feedback and ideas any thoughts any discussion welcome. you may even get a credit in my essay if your comment is particularly relevant and I can link to the post! ;-)

the essay question is

Evaluate the critique of ‘inherited church’ by pioneers and proponents of emerging church and/or Fresh Expressions.


In my reading there's a huge amount of questioning being done of inherited church across the globe - and whats also being done to both counter decling numbers but also being done to speak positively to the culture of our day. What I'm reading primarily from the USA and from the UK is helpful to some extent but I keep returning to the phrase -" yeah but that's not where we are". Some of the questions and how those questions are answered  are helpful but lots are not and returning to the fact that there is a lot of work to be done to contextualise the answers into the Irish church in general and the Church of Ireland in particular -  if they are to be of any help in answering the questions which are around the church today.

Why should this be the case?

There are many reasons for this - Perhaps the most fundamental answer to this is to do with history and place of the Church of Ireland on the island - where it is culturally, geographically and also its own understanding of ourselves. Into the mix we add the theological diversity and the propensity we have not to offend neither our neighbour. In other words we don't want to rock the boat.

It is a fascinating when we begin to unpack some of the fundamental questions as to what is church?, what should church be saying to our culture today? and how should we be saying it differently than we have done / do at present? what roles do church leaders - ordained and lay have in this? what structures do we need in place going forward? what does church look like if things do change going forward?

When this is coupled with the fact that within the church at this present time we are looking at new forms of ministry, diocesan strategies, empowering parishes to make changes - what does the future hold? .... lots of questions, very few answers as yet. That's OK ... but at least the questions are being raised and the conversations starting

I've been amazed reading the different theologies - Liberal Protestant, Emergent Liberal, House church conservative, emerging conservative, emerging evangeical, emerging reformed ... and where they are all coming from - each certainly brings gifts within their particular 'streams' some things ring true whilst others are problematicin my own mind - somehow the engagement with them needs to happen as they do provide answers to the questions of faith people have.

more later ... but back to the essay

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lazarus & Rich Man


So what are we to say about this parable … In my study over the past week I’ve been struck by two strands of this story … As I’m a visual learner … I’m going to use the image of something that i suspect we all have in our pockets / wallets / purses - 1 or 2 Euro Coin 

when you look at those coins they are made up of 2 metals - both are need if they are separated the coin becomes useless! They are inextricably linked 

The outside strand i’m using as reflecting our actions

The internal one being our relationship with God 

So lets take our actions first … because that’s where Jesus begins the story - day after day the rich man is swanning about with his fine clothes and his good food. We’re not told but does he simply choose to ignore Lazarus?, does he just not see him sitting at the gate?  is there just too many poor people around about him that he has grown immune to suffering … which can happen. 

Does he not know how to help? If he feeds lazarus … will other comes and where will it end? 

Lukes Gospel in particular has a concern for the poor, the vulnerable and the outsider this parable reinforces this. those who as we have said were overlooked by the elite, the religious of the society of the day. 

I must admit this week I’ve been hugely challenged by this  this week - because of a few things 

On a local scale - the guys to come down to the bottom of the gate of the church - what should our response be as a church? 

On a national scale - the homeless crisis is being talked about both in abstract but also in reality - facts and figures have the potential to blind us to the individuals 

and the International Migrant & Refugee crisis - and I’m going to be a bit provocative for the moment - because I don't know what the answer is but I do know something needs to be done and  as Christians we do need to wrestle with it.  I don’t normally get this passionate but we are being called to do something 

I have been struck that we have a lot to learn from the leadership and challenge of our global partners. The diocese that we visited in Zambia are doing a huge amount in the area of helping those in poverty - at a local level individuals are responding to God’s call in small but effective ways. 

On an International level - Archbishop Chama - who invited us out to his diocese this week sent an letter on behalf of the 85 Million Members of the anglican communion to Banki Moon 

The global tragedy of the forced displacement of millions of people is now a crisis that calls us to work together in new and creative ways in response to such suffering and disruption. The trauma experienced by the world’s 60 million refugees speaks to our common humanity, and pleads with us to take action as we reach out to respond to their suffering.  However, people are not only fleeing conflict and violence, but also moving around the world to escape from poverty or the effects of climate change. People search to find places where they can work and feed their families, to find better opportunities or freedom to live in peace and safety, whoever they are.  All this demands a much more intentional and robust collective response in which the churches and other faith communities are more than ready to take their place.
In addition, as our church communities reach out in loving service to those who have lost everything and who often arrive profoundly traumatized, bearing both physical and psychological scars from their experiences, we know that these people, whom the world labels as refugees, asylum seekers or migrants are, like all the people of the earth, treasured human beings made in the image of God. They deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people on the move, but we know that each of them is not only another number in a huge statistic but also an individual who brings a unique story of displacement, a unique potential to flourish and a unique ability to contribute to the common good.

In today’s world hospitality, reconciliation and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.


This parable deals with the reality of the world, Action is important but we also need to remember how the author deals with the world … its through relationship … the heart of the coin - the core of our beliefs - what God has already revealed. 

When the rich man finds the reality that he’s not where he expected to be … he wanted to send a warning back but is prevented from doing so … the world has all the information it needs to make a decisions on how to live and what they should be doing 

Repent, doesn’t mean “to be sorry.” It means “to change, to alter course, to do a complete turn around and go the other way.” The rich man was in hell, not because he was rich, but because he had ignored Moses and the prophets. 

He should’ve repented on earth and obeyed Moses and the Prophets, but he didn’t. The Law and the Prophets had commanded the Jews to care for the poor and take care of the weak. There are many examples of this but just a couple will demonstrate the case.

 From the Law: Deut 15:11“Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” From the Prophets: Isaiah 58:10“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Not long after Jesus told this story, a man called Lazarus would rise from the dead, in John 11. Did the Pharisees believe then? No, they sought to kill Jesus and Lazarus.

I love the old story of A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge - the rich man who was changed by the appearance of the ghost of Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. 

But signs aren’t enough to make anyone believe. 

All who read & hear God’s word - have a responsibility to respond - as he calls. 

Yesterday I was up in Northern Ireland for a mission conference - and heard great stories from around the world where God’s word was being preached but also where faith was being put into action.

I loved the attitude of what they are trying to do. 
  • See a need 
  • Try our best to Meet that need 
  • And trust God that he will supply what is needed 


The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius - in the mid 60’s wrote in his devotions and is also spoken the film Gladiator - “What we do in life echoes in Eternity” and very much Jesus was saying this through the parable. What we do in our three score years and 10 or however many years we live matters.


 In today’s world hospitality, reconciliation and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Much more than just a letter from a friend - A call for Justice, Peace, Reconciliation and hospitality in our world today

Ok,

Blog, Church, whosover reads this.

This is personal, it's global, it's rambling, it's my intial thoughts  - cutting right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian in our world today. To have it written by someone who I've been privileged to shake hands with and to be invited into their home on various occasions - I know his heart - and this letter is back up by his own actions in his home diocese as well as his work for the wider communion, africa and also the world.

Zambia META 2016 Team meeting Archbishop Albert Chama at his home in Kitwe 

The church - in our parish, in Ireland, in Europe needs to hear this and also needs to look at the implications for Justice, Peace and the integrity of creation you can read the letter in full without my thoughts on it on the Archbishop of Canterbury's blog.

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5769/archbishop-of-central-africa-writes-to-ban-ki-moon-on-refugees 

Red & Emphasis mine 
Your Excellency,
I am writing at the request of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, as you prepare for the important Global Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, which will be held next week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The fact that the church is doing what the church should be doing at this time - ie showing leadership, showing that we have something to say in the public square is fantastic. The fact that the Anglican church is having its voice heard at this important meeting is great - we do have something to say! 
The global tragedy of the forced displacement of millions of people is now a crisis that calls us to work together in new and creative ways in response to such suffering and disruption. The trauma experienced by the world’s 60 million refugees speaks to our common humanity, and pleads with us to take action as we reach out to respond to their suffering.  However, people are not only fleeing conflict and violence, but also moving around the world to escape from poverty or the effects of climate change. People search to find places where they can work and feed their families, to find better opportunities or freedom to live in peace and safety, whoever they are.  All this demands a much more intentional and robust collective response in which the churches and other faith communities are more than ready to take their place.
This is a huge claim and I wonder if we in Ireland are?, if we in this parish are? if the church of Ireland is? - maybe we are, but I wonder are we? how do we get ready? is there things that we need to clear out of the way of our readiness? how can we support those who are on the front lines of those migrants and refugees? 
In the United Kingdom, in my own country Zambia, and in many of the 164 countries around the world in which the Anglican Communion is present, the churches, together with other local religious communities, are working with their United Nations and civil society partners and with governments to provide sanctuary and protection to those fleeing conflict and poverty.
There a huge pile of attitudes which need challenged - how can we properly work together with governments to help? - is the church called at this time to step up, to speak out for the marginalised and the vulnerable in this society? what does that look like? - do we not have enough stuff to worry about in our own parishes with our own people? do we not have homeless in our own cities to worry about? what does it mean to belong to a world wide family? 
In addition, as our church communities reach out in loving service to those who have lost everything and who often arrive profoundly traumatized, bearing both physical and psychological scars from their experiences, we know that these people, whom the world labels as refugees, asylum seekers or migrants are, like all the people of the earth, treasured human beings made in the image of God. They deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people on the move, but we know that each of them is not only another number in a huge statistic but also an individual who brings a unique story of displacement, a unique potential to flourish and a unique ability to contribute to the common good.
Ouch! - this has huge implications - what about those people on our doorsteps - in our direct provision centres?, those who have made it to the front doors of our borders. Can we agree with Archbishop Albert Chama in this paragraph and if we do - what are the implications for our service, for our witness, for us in our priorities of ministry. 
Whilst responding to this massive movement of people is a humanitarian challenge for us all, we know that there are still governments around the world that are reluctant to accord such people any national legal protection or to recognise their status.  This only serves to exacerbate their situation, placing them at the mercy of human traffickers, smugglers and others who would exploit their predicament for profit.  The churches of the Anglican Communion are working to assist the dialogue with such governments and to advocate for stronger legal protection for these most vulnerable people.  We aim to contribute where possible to a durable solution that is based on appreciation of the dignity of the individual and respect for human rights.
It has been a real encouragement to see that in effect the church of Ireland is doing things - which is great - https://www.ireland.anglican.org/news/6094/the-refugee-crisis-our-response but I wonder has this filtered down to parish level - to ask in our parishes how and what can we do to help petition governments to do more, to find out what practical solutions need done. This surely is the big social and political issue of our day and we cannot be found wanting. 
As I reflect on the reality around the world that the Anglican Communion is consistently at the forefront of humanitarian response, conflict prevention, above all currently in the Great Lakes of Africa and in South Sudan, and in rebuilding communities and lives, I recall the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury at the beginning of 2016:
"Standing by a mass grave that I had just consecrated for the bodies of clergy and lay leaders of Bor Cathedral, last January, and then hearing the Archbishop of the Sudan, whose home town it was, call for reconciliation, and to know that he is working with us on that now, was one of the most powerful moments of my life."
In today’s world hospitality, reconciliation and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.
I just love this - Amen, Amen, Amen - but we need to been those who display this - It is all too easy to look at the news headlines and say woe is the day we live in - we need to choose - hospitality, reconciliation and love. 
So, as you and your staff prepare for these very important meetings, we express our warmest appreciation of our colleagues at the UNHCR and other UN partners. We commend to you our Anglican Communion representatives, The Right Reverend David Hamid and Canon Andrew Khoo – who will bring to the Summit the experience and the witness of the churches responding to the crisis in Europe and in South East Asia.
We also assure you that you are daily in our prayers in this work that we share,
The Most Revd Archbishop Albert Chama
                  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Zambia META - how do we begin to tell our our stories?

9 hours since the bus pulled in to Patrick's Quay in Cork - and we disembarked to hugs & how was it?

How do we/I begin to even explain what the last couple of weeks meant to us, how do we process what we have witnessed over the course of the team's life together.

We have laughed together, cried together, eaten together, walked together - got to know new friends, saw the height of God's creation and also the exploitation of that creation. We've discussed the importance of community development and self-sustainability. We've met with amazing Brothers and Sisters in Christ and we've also learnt stuff about ourselves and what is possible.

Once again I've come back from Zambia - my fourth time to the same city with a renewed heart of the church there, for the people and the projects we've encountered. I've loads to tell, lots of photos but a heart thats burning for the links between Northern Diocese and Ireland to be strengthened and encouraged.

But until then for any of my team - Take time to relax, talk about your stories, but also give people who are listening grace - they havent encountered everything that we have! Nor might they have the time to fully understand it all - but do talk :-)

And for anyone listening to us - it will take us time to process what we have seen - there are loads of things to tell - it wont all come out on the first telling! - and be warned you may be there for a while but what each member of the team needs now are people who are prepared to listen actively and help us process the intensity of the past few weeks - who knows you might even hear something from God for you as we chat together.

Photos are a great way to talk about what we have seen and done for me I'll be posting photos to my facebook profile ...

Some helpful hints here https://team.org/blog/six-steps-for-thriving-after-your-short-term-mission-trip/ 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Official Blog 1 from Zambia.

Muli Shani! After 42 hours of travel we have arrived at Kitwe. It only took 2 planes, 4 airports, 5 buses and a night with cockroaches in Ethiopia, but we got here in one piece!



There are still a few things that will take a bit of getting used to, such as water rationing and “Dooming the Room” (spraying the room with “Doom” insecticide to kill any midnight friends).
Saturday 9th
After an abrupt wake up call by the neighbour’s cockerel at 6am, we were brought to the Cathedral of Kitwe by our driver, Jonas.  We were met by the local youth group, who showed us around the Kitwe markets. There we experienced a constant bombardment of the senses. As merchants tried to call our attention with their appealing vegetables and aromatic perfumes, our guides kept us close.
We finished off the day with the Jonas Bus Tour of Kitwe and the local mines. It soon became clear that there was a huge contrast in housing; stone walls and huge fences next to wooden shacks with no protection. There were people on the street selling raw meat and vegetables, surrounded by large amounts of refuse. Jonas said it was because the mining company no longer provides a collection service since they became privatised.  This led to the miners being evicted from homes that were state owned. The houses were then put on sale, leaving many of the poorer workers on the streets and rubbish to accumulate. As the tour drew to an end, we noticed a contrast between the stereotypical African Savannah sunset and the industrialised reality.
Sunday 10th
You know the way in Ireland how we are always complaining about how long winded Robert can be or having to stand for more than two songs? Well, try having to put up with that for 5 hours in one day and the priest apologising to the congregation for shortening the service because we were there! Although it was almost never ending, it was the best service we have ever been to! The room was full of energy as we sung and danced together. The congregation were very friendly. As a traditional welcome they rubbed their hands together before clapping 3 times. Then, as we were leaving we shook everyone’s hands. Jonas our driver then brought us to the church treasurer’s house, where we had lunch with the vicar general and enjoyed getting to know the people and the Zambian culture a bit more.
Monday 11th
Today we went to Chambishi, where we visited the parish priest at the local preschool before driving to Chambishi Secondary School. There we met the Deputy Head of the school, who showed us around the school and led us to the classes. We amused the students by speaking (or attempting to speak) Bemba. Some of the classes had up to 90 students. She talked to us about the fact that many of the students came from vulnerable families, financially. Thankfully, the school was happy to let the parents pay the school fees in small amounts. We were really impressed by the variety of subjects and the dedication of both teachers and students.


Tuesday 12th

Today we went to the Kitwe primary and secondary school building site. This project was started up by the diocese in 2012 and the community was excited about the project. Unfortunately it has not been completed due to lack of funding. However, the workers estimate that the primary school section should be ready for the children in 2017.  Afterwards, we moved on to another building site where they are constructing a conference centre. It will be rented out to businesses and the income from the conference centre will pay for the completion of the school. We quickly got to work and helped make bricks. The workers enjoyed the extra help and it provided an opportunity to get to know them.