Monday, June 13, 2016

Questions 'r' us - how about some answers ???

On Saturday a large number of people gathered in the Rochestown Park Hotel to discuss the affairs of the Diocese - as the annual synod was brought together - with Bishop Paul Colton as the chair.

Each year as Bishop of the diocese he challenges us, encourages and provokes discussion.

His full address can be found here ... Full text

He posed 5 challenges

  1. Rural decline in Ireland.
  2. Responding to the needs of a developing Cork Metropolitan Area.
  3. Churches with a small ‘c’ – diversifying the use of our church buildings.
  4. Exploring and responding to the needs of the age group known as ‘millennials’.
  5. The new Cork, Cloyne and Ross project in partnership with Bishop’s Appeal and Christian Aid to improve maize production in Burundi.
So we have lots of questions based upon these 5 areas

1. What are the needs of rural Ireland and how can we be a part of meeting those needs?  

And, in particular, how can we utilise, diversify the use and expand the use of church buildings to be a part of the meeting of those needs?

2. What part can we play in the Cork of today as it develops and how can we respond in diverse, or extra-territorial forms of parish and ministry?

3. Do our churches look closed or do they look open for business?
  • What use is a church that is only open for one hour a week, and for occasional special events?
  • Can we find additional and alternative uses for some of our churches?
  • Are churches open, and what are they open for?
  • Working in partnership with local communities could our parishes and our church buildings serve areas in some way?
  • As part of our being and looking open are our churches easy to find and well sign-posted?
  • Is it obvious what times Services are at?
4. are we up for engagement with the millennial age group?

The questions linked to the 5th area I'll leave for another day ... as I'm currently caught up in all things Zambia at the moment!

Robert's Simple Reflections 

Its all very well asking lots of questions ... I suppose we need to ask -  how can we find answers? - this is crucial that we do find answers to these questions - Its in these questions and many like them that leadership happens, where creative solutions can be found. 

I wonder what you think of in these questions? 

In Blarney, in Inniscarra, in St. Peters - what other uses can our building be used for ... how can we be of service to the community? 

The Millennial Age group - what needs done ? 

We have asked so many questions I do think we now need to consentrate on the answers to these and various other questions. 

Lets together find the answers so that those with questions can find the answers with us! 


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Words ... and their power

A Sermon preached on Sunday 12th June - Blarney Church - 2 days after Judith Monks Funeral

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer.

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

If I was to pick a reading NOT to read today - for me it would be this reading - but such is our Lectionary at the minute it always poses challenges - It means that we preachers cannot choose their pet reading - and we’ve got be let the text challenge us and boy does this reading challenge us today - when we’ve had a raw week - a week which has seen us weeping, when we’ve been asking why, when we’ve been mourning the loss of Judith.

But I want to ask a question and speak a little bit about words - Some may have read my initial thoughts on my Blog over the past 48 hours

The question - How do we use our words?

I was reflecting upon many, many peoples conversations with me on the walk both up and down the hill here in the church yard as well as in the parish centre following Judith’s funeral - The conversations went something like this - “ O I wish I had said such and such to Judith about how much she had meant to me - and I never got the chance to”

Its been a similar thing which is said at lots of funerals - and here is the link with the reading I am very sure the same conversations were happening back in 1st Century Nain - We see Jesus in this reading giving the Widow a second chance - to have the conversations she wished she could have.

Jesus’ words of life provided a 2nd Chance “get up”- for those conversations to happen - Words provided the opportunity of life.

So if Jesus’ words then were words of life - I wonder what words might Jesus be speaking to us now- today - clearly they are not the same words -  as we grieve as a community - I hope you’ll let me ponder for a few moments

I have been struck about Judith’s life and ministry amongst us has been about words - words of jesus - many many words of encouragement, many words of teaching, many words of hope in the midst of despair, word of peace in the midst of the storms of our lives and words of care when we needed to be comforted.

Looking around the church on Friday I was struck by the number of people who were touched by Judith’s words and her actions. Yes she’s not around any more and we’re going to have to adjust to that new reality as difficult as that maybe for us but we have a choice going forward - and its a stark choice - we can blame God - And I must admit that over the course of the week -theres been times I’ve been angry with him - why now?, whats it all about?, what are you doing? all that potential!

But I’ve also been challenged by - “the time” passage in Ecclesiastes- “A time for everything”

“A time to be born and a time to die” - “A time to laugh and a time cry” - “A time to mourn and a time to dance”

At this season I wonder as we allow ourselves time to mourn and cry … can we can take the seeds  from God which Judith planted in our lives (as gifts) and nourish them, those healing words she spoke into our lives and discover what potential they have to bloom.

A confession - I don’t know how to do this but I want to do a lot of listening over the next weeks and months  - but I want this to be the foundation of our Missional Community - where genuine love for one another is spoken of.  Let us look forward, let us be there one for another, let us do whatever we can do deepen the links that already do exist. And let it begin here and now. And let us accept the honour which others do and say thank you … as difficult as it may be for us to hear it. 

What we do have in this community is all the necessary elements which when put together have the potential to to reach out and build up - Its difficult to hear encouragement but actually its very necessary. I wonder what encouragement you need to give to those sitting here this morning. Or if you’re not from this church - your community - your work places - word which might just bring life and healing to that place.

<<< personal encouragements for everyone in the congregation >>>

I do believe God is moulding us into what he would have us become. As I have reflected on my blog … time is short - lets support and help one another as we go about our mission to share God’s love with one another in the community around about us.

All of us need to chat more - we have a great community but I wonder could be get to know those we don't know better - are there other things we could do? - I’m open for suggestions :-)

Somehow we need to speak words of life to each other - encourage one another to play their part in the life and witness of this community.

If you look at this passage the scene was turned around both by Jesus’ Words  and his action

are we prepared to listen to his words and be impacted by his action today.

as a church we are here for each other - we need each other and we will be here for each other.

My prayer for us all is that we may know that peace which passes all understanding

And may the links between us grow and be strengthened as well as us looking outward to the village more and more to see how the light may shine and more words of life may be spoken to those who mourn


postscript ... to top of a crazy morning - when there was no wine, no bread (but we got them in time :-) ) and a fire alarm set off by birthday candles during the final song! - I've just found out that I had put the wrong reading onto the sheets & therefore preached on last weeks reading :-) - but thankfully God is a forgiving God and he knows what he's doing  and he is on his throne! :-)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Living honour out everyday - A challenge!

This blog comes from a place of loss ... a place of tears ... a place of the un-said things ... it comes at the end of a week of shock, mourning and grief within our little community.

Lots today could be said about Judith Monk ... and maybe a blog will be written later to honour her as a friend, confidant and leader.

But there's something more ... something I've had many conversations right across the board about today and something which I do think we need to deal with.

This thing is honouring one another, speaking well of one another, saying thank you to one another, calling out the good things we've seen, encouraging one another and having the deep conversations one with another.

If these last 6 weeks has taught us anything - one thing surely is life is short! all too short and we do need to let people know how much they mean to us - before its too late - how much a difference they mean to us in our every day lives. Surely we've got to build one another up.

But there's another part to this - is that we've got to take the encouragement from others as well! We Irish don't really like doing that. and I'm one of those who finds this difficult - We don't like to take being honoured - "oh it wasn't anything", "others are much better", "sure it was nothing", "somebody else would have done the same thing", "it was only a wee thing" we might say.

Actually - why not try and say a simple - thank you!

I'd love to create in church, in the village, in the wider community an environment where we honour one another, speak well of one another and where we encourage one another. Its really not that difficult - and who knows what might spring from it.

So often we see the opposite where people are either taken for granted, where things are left unsaid or people don't know how much they are appreciated. Let's encourage one another and accept the encouagement from each other.