Friday, June 27, 2008

Early African Reflections


Even at this early point in my placement, coupled with previous ventures to this vast Continent this place is full of complete contrasts.

It is such a beautiful place - taking time to soak up the sun in the middle of the day or as it rises or sets - totally magnificent. On the other hand when one progresses through towns around here on the copperbelt you find mammoth piles of debris from the mining industry.

Sitting in Chapel here in college it is a place of faith, of the word of God - The students who have preached on the last couple of evenings have been so good - preaching from the Gospel of Matthew, giving timely warnings to fellow students about the fruit which leaders in the church are to produce and then the call of discipleship which appears throughout the Gospel.

Today has been great as it has given me a chance to sit down and reflect on Africa - a continent which does have its own problems - one just has to look at the BBC website and see the problems - Zimbabwe today comes to mind - I was so mindful of that country when we flew over it on the way here. Please do continue to pray for the people of that nation and also the church there which is facing massive opposition from Government.

In Zambia too the church faces many problems - with many of the people living on under a dollar a day - there are huge problems, but it is progressing - please do remember this place where I am staying - St. Johns Anglican Seminary, the place which trains Anglican priests who will serve the church as Priests and evangelists. We think in CITC, not getting home on a Friday is bad - due to the expansive nature of the country, many of the students only get home at the ends of the terms, they have families hundreds and hundreds of miles away.

I am really looking forward to getting properly stuck in this next week, into classes, Yes, classes! - Looking forward to Ethics and Homiletics as well as taking Practical IT Skills. A few other things are happening over the weekend which I am indeed looking forward to - more about them in my next update.

I am also aware of what is happening at home this weekend, namely Summer Madness - my prayers are with all those attending - especially those from Banbridge - May God speak and may you all listen to Him!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I Know I have said this before but now it is true - My CMS Ireland Blog is now taking the weight of my postings for the summer - so you had better go there if you are looking any updates and Prayer pointers. Thank you for your interest :-)

My Zambia trip is from 23rd June --> 21st August

It can be found here - My CMSIRELAND BLOG


McMURRRAAAAYYYYYY or should that be Rev. McMurray now ??? :-p

Tonight, good friend and fellow blogger Gary McMurray was ordained deacon in Dromore Cathedral. The service, I believe was a really prayerful and worshipful time when we prayed for Gary and his future ministry in the Church. The rector of St. Elizabeth's preached an extremely important message of how we were to pray for ministers based upon Timothy thinking about life and the teaching which those in Christian leadership have to carry.

It was also good to see they guys from college again along with John Deane and those who were ordained last year (James and Clare).

Deep Breath now - The next Deacon ordination I will attend will be some for our year even possibly my own D.V. which is a scary prospect :-)

Photos from the ordination tonight can be found on my flickr page

Sermon Preached in Moira Parish - Sunday 15th June 2008

Sunday Morning 10 am Service (Matthew 9:35- 10:8)
Moira Parish – Morning Praise service
Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, as we come to your word this day, we pray that you would speak to us, that you would challenge us and that you would lead us closer in our walk with you.
In your name and for your sake we pray.


When the rector, asked me to preach at this service – on Friday – my immediate reaction, without thinking yes and then once I had put the phone down I thought oh crumbs – What are the readings – what have I let myself in for?

When I got hold of the lectionary and realised it was the Matthew reading that was good – because it was talking about Discipleship – which is great because it allows me the excuse to put up my ‘L’ plates – so right from the start I want to explain that right from the youngest to the oldest we are all learners – that is what the word discipleship means. That is what we are called to do.

I am going to concentrate on the Gospel reading – It is a familiar reading I am sure to many – The themes it contains are huge in the Christian Faith – It speaks of mission, it speaks of who Jesus is and it speaks of discipleship

Before we get into the text, Let us take a look at where passage is set – it is in Matthew’s Gospel which was written from a unique perspective and to show that Jesus was the messiah that the Jews were indeed expecting, it comes after the teaching narrative of the sermon on the mount and directly after a whole passage on miracles and calling of Matthew.

I would like to take a look at the text – If you have a Bible with you may want to follow

Jesus went out teaching, preaching and healing – The three of these things go hand in hand when the gospel is spread.

I often wonder how amazing it would have been alive to have met Jesus in the flesh in Galilee. His ministry is totally key to our understanding of who he is.

The miracles he performed shows and bears witness to who he is – he is shown to have power over nature,
power over Disease
power over death
and ultimately power over sin.

When we move on to the next section when he saw the crowds he had compassion on them – why? Because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd

It is interesting to note here a strange looking word
splanch – nizo- mai – SPLANK NIZO ME

Which is used throughout the NT in regards to Jesus motivation – right in the depth of his being – in his belly –is where he felt for the people and their problems.

For us :
He is the unchangeable – It has been said so many times that I do feel that we can sometimes in our faith grow immune to it – God has compassion on those who are hurting, who are suffering, who are harassed and helpless.

As we move on in this passage – There is a recognition that there is a part for everyone to play in this mission – Jesus once again draws as he does on so many occasions on agricultural imagery – “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”
Notice what he does here – He speaks this to his disciples and the asks them to “ask the lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his field”.

It is here I would like to pause for a moment and ask if anyone has been to theme park – any favourite rides? <> I went to Alton towers last year and had a great time – my favourite rollercoaster is AIR – I managed to get a quick video of it for you taken by someone first hand. Its not that great quality by hopefully you will get the idea.

I am sure, if you haven’t been to alton towers and been on air you’ll not really get what I’m saying, you wont have experienced the same feelings I have for it. My point here is the same in the text we can hear others talking about going places, hear others testimony about what God is doing in this place, in other places but if we don’t take that step to actually say God I want to do it then we wont

This is where us as disciples are challenged – we know that there is a harvest, we know that someone has to do it, we maybe pray to God that he would send someone to work in the field. Little do we know that we might be the answer to our own prayer. If we are already working maybe we are being called to pray for others to help us.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job.
Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

As we move into Chapter 10

We see the disciples being told – JUST DO IT – get out there and do the stuff I have shown you – they were given authority to heal raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, preach the message – Jesus gave them the authority.

He also makes provision in this – you will notice that the disciples are not to go alone, they are paired up. In ministry the idea of individuals I don’t think is biblical – having teamwork, another person who you relate well to is key. Someone you can pray with, someone who is ready to help you and you to help them when difficult times someone is key.

The chapter then goes on to speak of provision – and what to take and not take which in our whole idea of going does not sit easy one coat – no bag … I know I’m heading over to Africa next week and I am finding it difficult to stay under BA’s weight restrictions!!

So having said that what are we to do?

Well, I suppose this message this morning is practical
Firstly I believe God has a heart for those who are harassed and hurting this day – He is intimately concerned with the things you are concerned about, he is desiring above all the rest to heal and to restore those who are broken. He desires for that relationship to be restored.

Secondly, I believe that there are those to whom he wants to say – just do it – He is wanting you to get out there and do whatever he has called you to do – It’s not necessarily to become a Church of Ireland Clergy person but it may be to spread the gospel in your place of work, in your school, in your family circumstances wherever.

Finally, I believe he wants to say – don’t worry – I have made provision for you – especially for those who maybe over the summer are heading off overseas or doing some mission service at home – God will provide for all your needs.

We have been given so much – it is our responsibility to give – to the world around – Let’s JUST DO IT and not leave it to someone else to spread the good news – from the youngest here to the oldest we can all talk about God to our friends our work colleagues

Let’s take a moment of silence as we think about what we need to be doing this week, what resources we need to be asking our father for.

Let’s Pray
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would speak into our situations and ask that your would be provider and sustainer of us


---- Prayers of intercession ----

Let us pray,

God of gods and Lord of lords,

We come this morning as ourselves, with our faults and our failings, we come with our concerns, our doubts our worries we come before you and declare you as Lord, Lord of this place, lord of this town, lord of our lives.

Father God we come to you on this Fathers’ day and pray for all those who are father’s, we ask you to bless them with patience and love which only you can provide.

Lord God as we look around the world that you have created we see so much beauty, however you have instructed us to pray for those who are in need – we think of those in countries where there is violence, war, disaster and hardship – we pray for those places which hit our headlines on a daily basis – for Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iraq, Afganistan, China, Burma
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer
We pray for the church,
In our readings we are challenged, regardless of age or background, problems to serve God in whatever way he has called us. We take a moment to pray that God to send workers into the harvest field. Remembering that as disciples we too are called to play our part in the body that is the church.
Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer

We pray for our community of faith in this place.
Lord Jesus,
You had compassion on those who you saw were in trouble, in grief, in pain – that compassion moved you to action.

We pray for those whom we know who need a touch from the Lord this day. We pray particularly for The Rector and his family at this difficult time and others whom we name in silence.

Loving Lord, Surround those who suffer at this time.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer - Conclude with the Grace

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Fast forward again

Over the course of this summer - I hope to blog frequently whilst in Zambia - all of the posts will appear on my CMSI Blog which is available here