And God saw everything that he had made…

This is the time of year for services of Harvest Thanksgiving, important occasions for all kinds of congregations in many different types of denomination. Our service today includes the Diary of a Church Mouse by John Betjeman and read by Sue Steers. In this famous poem the Mouse reveals that :

Christmas and Easter may be feasts
For congregations and for priests,
And so may Whitsun. All the same,
They do not fill my meagre frame.
For me the only feast at all
Is Autumn’s Harvest Festival

Above all the Harvest underpins our understanding of God.

Christina Rossetti wrote:

Lord, purge our eyes to see
within the seed a tree,
Within the glowing egg a bird,
Within the shroud a butterfly,
Til, taught by such, we see
beyond all creatures, thee.

The hymns are We plough the fields, and scatter (Hymns of Faith and Freedom 456) and Come ye thankful people come (Hymns of Faith and Freedom 454) and are played by John Strain on the church organ. You can see the service here:

Time for a Story: Reformation

The end of October sees Reformation Day and Time for a Story retells the story of Martin Luther and the 95 Theses, including the top selling model of Luther manufactured by Playmobil. The story is told by Sue Steers and can be seen here:

His holy mountain…the joy of all the earth

Thou, whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight;
Hear us, we humbly pray;
And, where the gospel’s day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
Let there be light!

Sunday, 6th September marks the day we have started our return to worshipping together in church but our online services continue and today this one comes from Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.

Mountains and hills play a key part in the Old Testament and as we reflect on them we contemplate the whole of Creation and our part in it:

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain,
beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
(Psalm 48)

The service is conducted by the Rev Dr David Steers, the reading (Psalm 121) is given by Carol Nixon at Downpatrick, and John Strain plays the organ at Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. Click on the above link to join in this short act of worship.

Time for a Story: The Riverbank

This week Time for a Story looks at Kenneth Grahame’s famous book The Wind in the Willows. Told by Sue Steers is also features special animation. Click on the above link to see the video.

Mole at Ballee

Sunday Worship from Ballee

cropped-ballee-pulpit-fall-imtom-caven

Water is what connects us to life. It is also – clearly when we look at the book of Genesis – something that connects us to God.

Today’s service comes from Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. It is also a collaborative act of worship because taking part in the service is the Rev Brenda Catherall, minister of Chowbent Unitarian Chapel, Atherton, Lancashire. Brenda reads from Genesis ch.1 v.1-5 and the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

The world offers itself to your imagination

Brenda is reading at Pennington Flash, near Leigh, an area reclaimed from industrial decay and now a Country Park and home to over 250 species of bird. Wild Geese also feature in the video.

John Strain, Ballee organist, plays the hymns All people that on earth do dwell (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 1) and Bright the Vision that delighted (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 35).

 

Time for a Story: Wisdom

This week’s story tells the story of Archimedes, famous as an astronomer, inventor and scientist, whose Eureka moment has passed into the English language. Click on the above video which features special music, images from the British Museum and animation created by InkLightning. This image is of Syracuse, the birthplace of Archimedes.

 

Here is some more information on Chowbent Chapel. Click on the image below to read about Chowbent Chapel and the Rev Brenda Catherall:

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The studded door from the vestry to the chapel

Sunday Worship from Ballee 28th June

Roots hold me close; wings set me free

Today’s service comes from Ballee and features a reading sent in by Jonathan Chambers, now of Somerset, which reminds him of Ballee. It is by George Eliot from Daniel Deronda (1876):

A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some spot of a native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of the earth, for the labours men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmistakable difference amidst the future widening of knowledge: a spot where the definiteness of early memories may be inwrought with affection, and kindly acquaintance with all neighbours, even to the dogs and donkeys, may spread not by sentimental effort and reflection, but as a sweet habit of the blood. At five years old, mortals are not prepared to be citizens of the world, to be stimulated by abstract nouns, to soar above preference into impartiality; and that prejudice in favour of milk with which we blindly begin, is a type of the way body and soul must get nourished at least for a time. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars belonging to one’s own homestead.

This links in with Psalm 8 (read for us by Rachel Neill):

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is humankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honour.

and with our hymns played by John Strain which include:

He formed the stars, those heavenly flames,
He counts their numbers, calls their names;
His wisdom’s vast, and knows no bound,
A deep where all our thoughts are drowned.

But all this helps us reflect on our roots, where we come from, what we have achieved in the course of our lives, and our place in the vastness of the universe.

Also this week we uploaded Time for a Story: Saying Please, which has its own Somerset connection:

 

and my own thoughts on churches coming out of lockdown in Northern Ireland:

Worship: Sunday, 10th May

Ballee int Sept 2017

This week’s service is recorded at Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, county Down. We are pleased again to have the services of John Strain, our Ballee organist, who plays some music at the start and end of the service as well as the two hymns:

‘Through all the changing scenes of life’ (Hymns of Faith and Freedom 48)

‘Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father’ (Hymns of Faith and Freedom 54)

Readings:

Lamentations ch.3 v.21-26

Don’t Quit by John Greenleaf Whittier (with special thanks to Emma McConnell)

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low but the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.

 

When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns as every one of us sometimes learns.

And many a failure turns about when he might have won if he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow, you may succeed with another blow.

 

Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt.

And you never can tell how close you are, it may be near when it seems so far.

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, it’s when things seem worse that you must not quit.

 

Recent videos on the churches’ channel also include a reflection on Time which includes consideration of J.R.R. Tolkien:

‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

(J.R.R. Tolkien)

And a prayer for VE Day also by Sue Steers which includes an account of the life of George Cross who took part in the D Day landings and returned to Normandy at the age of 100:

 

 

 

 

Communion Sunday, 3rd May 2020

This week’s service is a Communion Service recorded at Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church

Sunday, 3rd May 2020

Service conducted by the minister the Rev Dr David Steers

Organist: John Strain

Reading: Matthew ch.14 v.13-21

The hymns played are:

‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ No. 326

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah

‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ No. 61

Now thank we all our God

The full words of the hymns can be found in the description under the video on YouTube.

For most congregations in the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland May is the month in which one of the two communion services of the year are held.

We also uploaded to YouTube, earlier in the week, another video which set out to explain something of the background to the celebration of Communion within the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland. Recorded at Downpatrick it can be seen here:

Online Worship: Palm Sunday

Assisi-frescoes-entry-into-jerusalem-pietro_lorenzetti

‘The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem’ (1320) by Pietro Lorenzetti. A fresco in the south transept of the Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi. (Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain).

Our Sunday service today comes from Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church county Down.

Minister: Rev Dr David Steers

Organist: John Strain

Reading: Matthew ch.21 v.1-11.

The hymns played are:

Hymns of Faith and Freedom No. 43

King of glory, King of peace,
I will love thee;
And that love may never cease,
I will move thee.
Thou hast granted my request,
Thou hast heard me;
Thou didst note my working breast,
Thou hast spared me.

Wherefore with my utmost art
I will sing thee,
and the cream of all my heart
I will bring thee.
Though my sins against me cried,
Thou didst clear me;
And alone, when they replied,
Thou didst hear me.

Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise thee;
In my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise thee.
Small it is, in this poor sort
To enrol thee:
E’en eternity’s too short
to extol thee.

 

Hymns of Faith and Freedom No. 327

Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
O’er the world’s tempestuous sea;
Guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us,
For we have no help but thee;
Yet possessing every blessing
If our God our Father be.

Jesus, breathe forgiveness o’er us;
All our weakness thou dost know,
Thou didst tread this earth before us,
Thou didst feel its keenest woe;
Tempted, taunted, yet undaunted,
Through the desert thou didst go.

Spirit of our God, descending,
Fill our hearts with heavenly joy,
Love with every passion blending,
Pleasure that can never cloy;
Thus provided, pardoned, guided,
Nothing can our peace destroy.

 

 

Ballee Harvest 2019

Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church held their annual service of Harvest Thanksgiving on Sunday, 13th October when they welcomed as guest preacher the Rev Brian Moodie of Dromore together with the highly regarded choir, the Lindsay Chorale, and their musical director Sheelagh Greer. It was a wonderful service which everyone appreciated. The church was beautifully decorated throughout with each window sill reflecting a different colour of creation, some of which are shown here.

Ballee Harvest Choir

Ballee Harvest 2019 window red

Ballee Harvest 2019 window yellow

Ballee Harvest 2019 window white

Ballee Harvest 2019 window purple

Ballee Harvest 2019 window pink

Ballee Harvest 2019 window orange

Ballee Harvest 2019 window brown

Ballee Harvest 2019 marrow

Ballee Harvest 2019 Pulpit

John Strain’s 40th anniversary as organist at Ballee

Ballee Presentation 30 June 2019 02

In front of the organ after the service (Photo: Mary Stewart)

On Sunday, 30th June 2019  we celebrated John Strain’s 40 years as organist at Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. John discovered his talent as a musician at a young age and assumed the mantle of organist back in 1979. In all those years John has only missed a Sunday service on three occasions and is well-known for his wide knowledge of tunes and his willingness to find just the right hymn even at a moment’s notice. In that time John has played at many baptisms, weddings and funerals as well as at many other local churches including the local Church of Ireland for the last thirty years. Some years ago John released a record of his playing on the church’s organ made by Samuel Dalladay of Hastings in 1912 and in 2012 played for the congregation’s organ centenary twelve-hour hymnathon.

Ballee Presentation 30 June 2019

With Doreen Chambers and Sophia Cleland who both read lessons during the service (Photo: Mary Stewart)

This special service was built around six hymns chosen by John who also gave his reasons for choosing them. During the service readings were given by church members and John’s tremendous commitment, loyalty and achievement in the church was celebrated as a special presentation was made to him to mark this significant anniversary. The hymns John chose were ‘Morning has broken’, ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God’, ‘Go work in my vineyard’, ‘I heard the voice of Jesus say’, ‘When I survey the wondrous Cross’, and ‘Great is Thy faithfulness’, all from Hymns of Faith and Freedom.

Ballee Presentation 30 June 2019 03

With Jayne Caven, church secretary (Photo: Doreen Chambers)

An audio recording of the service is available.

You can read about Ballee’s Carnegie organ here

Christmas in Lecale 2018

Some images from the Christmas services and special events at Downpatrick, Ballee and Clough Non-Subscribing Presbyterian churches.

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Participants in the Clough Carol Service

(click here for more pictures from Clough Carol Service)

Ballee Christmas 2018 02

Ballee Christmas 2018 03

Santa visits Ballee following the Carol Service

Downpatrick Christmas 2018 01

Choir singing in the Downpatrick Carol Service

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Downpatrick Christmas party

Clough Christmas party 09

Clough Christmas party

(click here for more pictures from Clough Christmas party)