Sunday, January 30, 2011

Youth Website is now Live!

Youth Website

Yes! St. Columba’s now has its very own youth website and contains a wealth of resources please do use it.

It has been designed to be as useful and friendly as possible. We are updating it weekly with information

What can I find on the site?

If you are a young person We have various “columns”

why do we do what we do ?- (updated monthly) is a column dedicated to what we do in church week by week. It eventually will answer questions like:

  • Why do we come to church anyway?
  • Why do we have different colours/seasons in church ?
  • Why do we sing hymns?
  • Why do we celebrate Holy Communion?

N:gage with Sunday Mornings (updated weekly)- is a column dedicated to engaging with Sunday morning worship. It provides readers with tools to help them prepare for worship. Informing them of the type of service it will be for the 10:30 service, explaining the reading and looking at a bit of the service.

We also have partnered with Scripture union and you can find Daily Bible Reading Notes there on the site!

We also hope to host guest interviews with various people in and around the church and beyond.

we also have split the website up dependent upon the age group with games, video clips, links.

For our older teenagers and above we have set up a facebook group.

All of our updates will be highlighted on our twitter account - if you happen to have a twitter account - please do follow us @stcolumbasyouth

Whilst this is a youth website - all are welcome check us out:

If you are happy and you know it ...

A sermon delivered at the 10:30 service in St. Columba’s Parish church on Sunday 30th January 2011

While going to sunday school, I remember distinctly learning the wee chourus

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands

If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands

So often we get caught up in the pressures of life - in balancing accounts, in meeting work deadlines, in flying from one thing to another that we push the things of God from the centre where they should be to the periphery of life. We get caught up with the details that we forget the bigger vision of what life is all about. We know all too well that depression and anxiety is on the rise.

Throughout this year we are working our way through the Gospel of Matthew at the Morning Services. Our reading today is the first part of the first major teaching block of the Gospel known as the Sermon on the mount.

Jesus opens his sermon by emphasising what the blessed or happy life looks like

Jesus here is emphasizing the values produced in Kingdom Men and Women by the Holy Spirit. Values which stand in stark contrast to the values of the world back in his day as well as values which are all to common today.

JB Philips has rendered the Beatitudes that apply to the kingdom of this world like this

Happy are the “pushers” for they get on in the world

Happy are the hard boiled for they never let life hurt them

Happy are they who complain: for they get their own way in the end

Happy are the blase for thy never worry about their sins

Happy are the slave drivers for they get results

Happy are the knowledable men of the world for they know their way around

Happy are the trouble makers for they make people take notice of them

Happiness is a concept which I am sure we all strive for, economists tell us that it is one of the goals of the decisions we all make with our finances - not simply working and making decisions to increase wealth but asking questions as to how we spend our money, our time to get happiness and fulfillment out of life.

This week, amidst all the usual news stories two stood out for me...

BBC Breakfast took on the challenge of seeing if people could learn to be more happy though various tasks and challenges.

Also the chief of the Bank of England Mervyn King in a speech quoted the Ken Dodd song

King said: "When it comes to measuring success, don't count money count happiness. The advice of Ken Dodd in 1964."

Within the Beatitudes we have a concise list of Kingdom values - which will be mediated on through the remainder of the gospel

Poverty, mourning, meekness, hunger for righteousness, purity, mercy, peacemaking and persecution.

To those on the outside - who are searching for happiness in our world today these values may seem quite alien but actually by meditating on each of them in turn is quite useful and gives us a picture of True kingdom life. Life which Jesus himself promises us elsewhere in the Bible - Life in all its fullness

Time only allows me to look at a 3 of the examples but if we look at these you will see a pattern emerging

“Happy are the meek” becomes “Miserable are the arrogant”. The meek will inherit the earth, but those who bully others can only take: they are not *given* anything.

“Happy are the merciful” becomes “Miserable are the merciless”. People who bear grudges, who refuse to forgive, and who take revenge, are the real prisoners. They are prisoners of their own hate, and it eventually poisons all their relationships.

Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” becomes “Miserable are those who have no spine”. It isn’t always easy to stand up for what is right — yes, we can wind up persecuted. But who will ever trust us with what is truly important if we don’t have the inner strength to hold on to it in the first place?

The others ... why not take the reading sheet home with you and see what Jesus was getting at through them

If you are happy and you know it and you really want to show it

If you are happy and you know it Go and ...

  • Do not be afraid to to show that you do not have everything
  • be meek
  • fulfill your hunger for doing what is right
  • show mercy
  • be pure
  • make peace
  • don’t be afraid of what others will think of you

Do all of these things because God has called you to do them! - The world is waiting for Men and Women, Young and Old to show what true happiness is all about

February ... Knock Knock

Below is an article published in the February edition of our Parish Magazine

Knock Knock its the Curate ...

I can’t believe February is here, it doesn’t seem that long since I was writing for the December magazine way back in the middle of November. Now Christmas has past and we are now embarking on a new year.

January this year for me has been a very “techie/geeky month” which has been great. In addition to the regular visiting, meetings, services and all the other things which go along with my role as Curate, my computers have been out and about on lots of occasions for various “Silver Surfer” events. I have been very encouraged by the enthusiasm of the many parishioners through the doors of the sessions as well as the patience and skills of those who signed up to help. Thank you all very much.

On the other part of the techie work, (if all goes according to plan) we should, by the time the magazine goes to print have a Youth Website ( which makes use of the latest technology and social networking, helping us to link up with young people and their parents to interact with the parish on-line. This will allow us hopefully to communicate our message to a generation who are living through one of the greatest revolutions that the world has ever seen.

My passion for the church has always been and always will be - that we are able to communicate what the good news of the gospel is, and what it means to all ages.

Silver Surfers has been a place where we get together, learn together, chat and laugh together and help each other in community. The same is true with our new Youth website a place where as a parish we can share resources, ideas and communicate with each other in new and creative ways ... that surely is at the heart of Christian Community.

In Christ


PS A huge thank to all who sent cards, gifts and Christmas wishes to the curatage over the festive period, they were all greatly appreciated.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Our Identity - A short address prepared to A Late Evening Office St. Columba’s Parish Church Sunday 9th January 2011

I continue to be amazed with the ways in which businesses, banks and government have to find out if we are who we say we are. Passports, bio-metric data, pin numbers, micro chips, finger prints, reference numbers, passwords, usernames, numbers, survey forms, our credit history, plastic cards, key fobs ... and all the rest

We are increasingly told that we are to protect our identity from being stolen - we are to shred documents, not to share pin numbers and to protect our plastic card.

Just last week I went in to register to rent out a DVD - I had to go in with my Passport, utility bill and sign a form

Our identity is crucially important.

We are complicated beings - we may be brother or sister, husband or wife, friend to some, mother or father, granny or grandad, we may be in charge of some others, we may be under the charge of others at work, we may be owners of cars, we may be tenents, we may be customers of this or that store. Each person we meet on a daily basis may have different expectations of who we are and what we are about.

In our Gospel reading this evening we have skipped over 30 odd years from where we were last week - from the Christmas story to Jesus beginning his public ministry. We see in this reading how crucial Identity is.

God the Father, in Jesus’ baptism identifies who Jesus is and what he thinks of him

His identity was confirmed...God's son.

He was identified as the focus of God's love.

He was identified as being very pleasing to God.

Before Jesus does all the amazing things he did in his ministry the base, the foundation is founded upon his Baptism.

There are huge problems in our society today when people, young and old forget about their identity - or who try to make a new identity for themselves.

Core to all who have been baptised is that we have been given an Identity - we have been given a Christian Name, we have been identified as the focus of God’s love and we have been identified as being very pleasing to God - that is the very core of Christian teaching.

But we need to own that truth, we need to trust that truth and we need to put it into practice.

Who are you? You are a child of God, the focus of his love and with you God is well pleased.

Yes we do stupid things, Yes we let him down time after time but we also are a people who believe in forgiveness and Grace. Thanks be to God. Amen

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year Sermon

What a difference a year makes

A Sermon preached on Sunday 2nd January 2011 at Evening Prayer in St. Columba’s Parish church.

In the name of God, Father, Son and Spirit. Amen

Just before Christmas, our youth group were kindly invited to the studios of UTV for a tour around the news studios and the radio station. In one of the rooms we were given a sneek peak at one of the programmes by a producer who met us in one of the corridors. It was a programme on the Highlights of Northern Ireland news.

The programme showed snippets of the highs and lows of life in the province, from politics, to sport, from ash clouds grounding all the planes to the snow storms recently experienced. This programme and many like it on other TV channels and radio programmes are a good way to look back and see what we all have been living through

2010 has indeed been a year which I am sure each one of us will have our own highs and lows. At this time each year it is a time to look back at what has been and look forward to what will be.

Certainly, looking back it is great that within this parish in 2010 we have welcomed back people into our parish, we have seen new people engage with church, we have been able to work together to get lots of things done -

  • Heating systems fixed,
  • flower festival organised,
  • Ladies Guild & Mens Club anniversaries,
  • held our ordination service,
  • many baptisms,
  • various weddings,
  • Creche set up
  • we have laughed together,
  • cried together,
  • worshipped together sunday by sunday
  • maintained and extended our choral tradition...with the many special services
  • we have welcomed new members into our congregation,
  • we have faced challenges and overcome them,
  • we do have a great family atmosphere in the parish, where people are prepared to stand alongside each other and work together.

I am sure each one of us could add other things which have meant something to you that has happened in the past 12 months.

As we look forward to a new year - I wonder what your hopes, your dreams, your resolutions, your prayers are for yourself, your family, your friends, your community and indeed this your church?

In Proverbs 29:18 we read that without vision people perish - What is your vision for 2011?

With church - We are looking forward to living up to and indeed helping to answer the prayer which is printed in each of our parish magazines.


This is a big prayer, a big vision but one to which each one of us are called to play our part.

In our gospel reading this evening we see what happens after Jesus is born. Mary and Joseph up to this point have had what would have been described as a most extrordinary year. Encounters with angels, long journey, no house but a stable, baby born, strange visitors shepherds who came around and then magi making a huge journey to find them.

I am sure the Holy Family were ready to rest up and relax.

Then all of a sudden they are on the road again, responding to an emergency which they could not have expected. But this situation God had everything under control. In the panic and the life and death situation they found themselves in I am sure the turmoil must have been great.

We see from this reading that God had it all under control, he was working is purposes out. We also see that Matthew can look back with hindsight and see that God had already made plans for the flight to egypt.

As we progress into this new year, let us dream, let us plan, let us have a vision of what we could use this year for, of how things could be different.

Let us take the message of this season of Christmas that God is indeed with us, and let us remember that whatever problems, situations, challenges, ups and downs we may face, what ever joys and sorrows we may come across let us remember that message of immanuel, God is with us.

This year, 2011, we have been told by many quaters is going to be a tough, challenging year when finance, commerce employment and other factors are taken into consideration, however we have all got to remember what life is really about and the priority we need to place in our faith in God and his sufficiency.

Let us remember that God is walking with us, that he has a plan for us, he wants us to enjoy living. Jesus himself did say - that I have come so that they may have fulness of life.

My hope and prayer for all of us in this new year is that we will encounter God in a new way, that when trials come, when we are faced with challenges we will remember the truth of Christmas that Immanuel - God is with us.

Let us pray.