Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I don't know if its just because I am tucked nicely away in a quiet street but I have only had one wee bit of paper through the door from a political party (not that I am complaining). There are plenty of posters to tell me the options!

Tomorrow night, Thurs 29th at 7:30 Willowfield parish church is hosting a hustings event ... I had no idea what such an event is ... but it is amazing what happens when you "google it" it explains everything.

Anyway some of the candidates will be there taking questions from the floor chaired by the rector Canon David McClay. I look forward to see what they all have to say for themselves!

We got talking in Bible Study tonight about the importance of praying through our options. The election is indeed important. On this blog / talking to people I WILL NEVER get party political but we must remember that we do have the freedom to vote, that freedom has always been fought & won for therefore we need to inform ourselves of the options and the policies and make a choice.

Our politicians are important, we are told that we are to pray for them. This is really really important --> what they do & say affects the jobs, healthcare, security, education ... of our nation. On the run up to this elections Christians can have a major part to play in voting & then in the leadership. On May 6th we have influence ... let us use our vote!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


A sermon preached on Sunday 25th April 2010 at 10:30 Holy Communion Service in St. Columba's Knock

Let us pray

Heavenly father,
you call us to be learners, to be disciples, as we delve into your word this day help us to:
hear your voice,
discern your will
and live out our faith in the world
This we ask in Jesus name,

In the Gospel reading Jesus said in John 10:27-28

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.

Throughout the Bible the imagery of a shepherd is one of the most profound & prevelent in the whole of scripture.

When we think of Shepherds, our minds may be drawn to David as a shepherd boy, using the tools of his trade to slay the giant Goliath
many of the prophets started as shepherds
or perhaps the beloved Psalm 23 … The Lord is my shepherd

or the shepherds in the Christmas Story illustrated so well in many of the nativity plays children with the tea towels on their heads hearing the good news of the birth of Christ from the angelic host.

Jesus, has just, a few verses before the reading from todays gospel, described himself as the Good Shepherd, and then said that he is prepared to lay down his life for his sheep.

This morning I would like to pause and think a little about shepherding and sheep … something which a townie like me knows not too much about.

However, as a family, just before I headed down to theological college, mum and dad made the decision to move house - a couple of miles out of town into the countryside, so when I head home I love standing in our kitchen and see sheep in the field directly behind our house.

I am sure like me you might have a romanicised version of sheep … fluffy white clouds, not a care in the world, munching away on grass.

However, the sheep outside my kitchen window at home, are far from perfect - fight with each other, get very dirty, have to be dipped because they have flees, they need looking after, disease, if one escapes from the field, all the other stupid sheep go with them, they are looking at other fields and think I want to go there → they really are complete eejits!

A strange question to ask on a sunday morning
How are we at being sheep? …

I am not sure if you know the silly kids song … I want to be a sheep baa baa baa baa?
(i'll not sing it here!)

I suspect most of us if we are honest are quite good at being sheep …
… far from perfect
… fighting with each other
… needing someone to look after us
… look at the grass on the other side of the fence and see that it looks greener

How are we at being sheep which Jesus points to as his sheep in this reading
“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me”

How are we doing at hearing God's voice? Are we tuned into it?

How do we hear God's voice? Does God speak to us today? How does he communicate with us?

Primarily through the word of God … the Bible … do we know what it says?, are we taking time to feed on it?, are we listening to what God is saying in it? Are we expecting God to speak to us?

Do we find the Bible difficult to understand?, are we prepared to ask questions? Are we prepared to study and make sense of it?

God can also speak through wise counsel, by this I mean, talking things out with people who we know and respect as Christians, people we know who will support us, people who can help us understand.

God can speak to us through prayer – when we take time to listen to him.

My Sheep hear my voice, I know them

I know them.

There are so many promises in the Bible concerning God knowing us intimately, knowing our names. This knowing goes way beyond simply knowing us, we know people to see. He knows us intimately, He knows our strengths, our weaknesses, our failures and our triumphs and this knowing is about relationship with us.

My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me .

They follow me

This is where it gets exciting, this is where when we grasp the relationship possible with God through Jesus – things fall into place. The promise of Peace, the meaning of life, the ultimate questions can be answered. This is why we celebrate easter, this is why we are able to sing alleuia.

When we follow Jesus – when we live listening to his voice we are able to see changes, we are able to make changes because he see his example and strive to be like him. We follow what he did.

Later in the service those receiving The bread and wine will come to the rail and those administering will say – the blood of Christ keep you in eternal life, and the body of christ keep you in eternal life.

In our reading we read

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life

Are we prepared to accept that we are sheep?,
are we prepared to hear Jesus voice?,
are we prepared to believe that he knows us,?
are we prepared to follow him?
Are we prepared to accept his promise of eternal life?

If we are then surely we can then proclaim with complete gusto and confidence the opening words to Psalm 23

The Lord is MY shepherd, I shall not be in want
he makest me lie down in green pastures

Sheep cannot lie down and rest unless:
a. They are not afraid in the night
b. They are not infested with bugs
c. They are not fighting among themselves
d. They are not hungry

As Sheep, do we recognise the shepherds voice?, how are we doing at following him? How are we doing at trusting him being my shepherd?

It is a challenge yes, but I am convinced that there is nothing better, nothing worth living for other than being a sheep in the herd of the Good Shepherd … what about you?


Neglect of the Blog again corrected

I seem to be going through seasons of blogging and not blogging!

Once again, it will be corrected by a burst of blogs in the coming days.

I am back on duty since last tuesday, after a great wee holiday around various areas in Ireland in the green machine.

Today I have been preaching at our morning service then down to dublin and tomorrow I am looking at resources & options which can be used for liturgy in churches. Links etc will be available here when I get back to belfast.

Hope all is well with everyone in Blogosphere