God is not only interested in religion

The words at the top of this page are by Marcus Braybrooke. They are a distillation of a longer quotation from William Temple (Archbishop of Canterbury 1942-1944) quoted in Marcus’s book Peace in Our Hearts, Peace in our World:

It is a great mistake to suppose that God

is interested only, or even, primarily in religion.

Religion is more than doing things a certain way, it is about the way we live our lives. Consequently faith is supposed to find its conclusion in the way we live. We are reminded of this in the Letter of James:

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?
If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,
and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

James ch.2 v.14-17

How we live and how we interact with the world is a measure of how far the Kingdom of God is being constructed.

As Mahatma Gandhi said:

No work that is done in God’s name

And dedicated to God is small.

A scavenger who works in God’s service shares equal distinction

With a king who uses his gifts in God’s name.

This is the theme of today’s online service. Filmed in Clough Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church Alfie McClelland plays the organ and Elsie Nelson gives the reading. The hymns played are Thou Whose Almighty Word (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 173) and Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 326).

The service can be seen here:

Sunday Worship Clough Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church (available from 9.45 am Sunday, 22nd November)

Celebrating Harvest

This Sunday’s worship again reflects on the importance of the harvest in our lives, both spiritually and temporally. Our reading is given for us by Dillon Howell and the hymns and harvest music is played by John Strain on the organ at Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.

The video both begins and ends with images from harvest services in our churches over recent years. They are always such uplifting occasions and a great deal of thought goes into making the churches look so attractive. It is nice to be reminded of some of the imaginative and creative displays that we always see in our churches. Click on the above video to see the service.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious,

for his steadfast love endures for ever.

Psalm 107.1

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 Inch Abbey

Inch Abbey c.1180

Today’s service comes from Inch Abbey in county Down. Service led by Rev Dr David Steers. Also taking part in the service are the Rev Rosalind Taggart and the Rev Norman Hutton.

Readings: Psalm 148 and Matthew ch.5 v.1-12

Organists:

Alfie McClelland, Clough Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church

John Strain, Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church

Hymns:

Glorious things of thee are spoken (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 233)

Seek ye first the kingdom of God (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 272)

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 221)

Sent forth by God’s blessing (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 409)

Click on the above video for today’s service

Time for a Story: Stargazing

This week’s story, told by Sue Steers FRSA, with special animation by InkLightning, features the life of Galileo. It can be seen here:

The life of Galileo

Sunday Worship from Clough, 5th July

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This Sunday our service comes from Clough. The theme is inspired by Thomas Carlyle’s remark that ‘Wonder is the basis of worship’. In this light we explore the place of singing in our worship (‘O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hands hath made’). Dr Anna Ferguson reads Psalm 96 and Alfie McClelland plays the hymns: City of God, how broad and far and Love divine, all loves excelling.

This week’s Time for a Story has the theme of Diligence and tells the story, from India, of Janaka. It can be viewed here:

 

 

 

 

 

Worship for Pentecost Sunday 2020

 

Mountains of Mourne from near Ballee

The mountains of Mourne from near Ballee

“What does this mean?”

Our service today comes from Clough Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church and features music played by Laura Patterson and Alfie McClelland on the organ, a duet on bagpipes by Laura and Robert Neill and a reading by Adele Johnston (Acts ch. 2 v.1-21).

P1040425

Clough Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church

Taking our cue from the onlookers at the first Pentecost, in the service today we ask what does Pentecost mean to us today? Can we reclaim Pentecost as part of our liberation? Can we find meaning for us today?

The hymns played are:

I, the Lord of sea and sky (Mission Praise 857)

and

Thy kingdom come – on bended knee (Hymns of Faith and Freedom 210)

Friday, 29th May saw the 67th anniversary of the climbing of Everest and in our Time for a Story this week Sue Steers reflects on the meaning of this famous event achieved by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in terms of co-operation and team work.

 

 

 

 

Online Worship: Easter Day

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Our service for Easter Sunday comes from First Dunmurry NS Presbyterian Church, Dunmurry.

Easter service, Sunday, 12th April 2020.

Service conducted by the minister in charge: Rev Dr David Steers

Piano: Allen Yarr

Guitar and solo: David Gibbs

Reading: John ch.20 v.11-18

 

The hymns played are:

Church Hymnary No. 119

‘Jesus Christ is risen today’ (first three verses)

Church Hymnary No. 123

‘The day of resurrection’

With special music provided by David Gibbs of Portrush. David sings Moliannwn (Let’s Rejoice) a Welsh folk hymn written by a Welsh slate quarryman called Benjamin Thomas who lived from 1838 to 1920. This is a great song for this time of year. Benjamin Thomas emigrated from Wales to North America and with his roots in Wales but living in America it beautifully brings together his experiences of the Spring on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Stories in Slate blog says:

“Born on April 9, 1838, Benjamin Thomas was a native of the famous slate quarrying town of Bethesda in North Wales, but he spent a good half a century on the North American Continent ending his days in the Slate Valley. He was a man who involved himself in things Welsh, most notably in poetry – he penned several verses which can be found in countless old periodicals of the age. Most are musings upon the vicissitudes of life, but there is no doubt that his most enduring piece is ‘Moliannwn’, the vigorous song of praise at the arrival of spring.”

You can read the full fascinating account of this song here:

Moliannwn (Let’s Rejoice)

Thank you David for singing it for us.

Image at the top of this page: The Three Marys at the Tomb (1396) by Lorenzo Monaco, Illumination on vellum, 46 x 48 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Source: Wikimedia. Public Domain.

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.

 

 

From the Archives

Clough Flower Service 1954

Clough 1956 01

James Robinson lent me this Calendar from Clough dating to 1956. As the caption says it shows the Sunday School before the Flower Service in July 1954. I think the Rev George Buckley made a Calendar for each year he was minister of Ballee and Clough and I will search out any more of them that we can post online. But this one is particularly interesting because it shows the members of the Sunday School. The Flower Service was an important annual service in Clough in those days and many members remember it. Mr Buckley took the picture one year and used it in the Calendar eighteen months later. I am sure everyone in the photo can be identified and a great many of them are regular attenders in the church to this day. It would be nice to put a name to each of the children so that we can post those online too.

Clough 1956 02

 

Downpatrick: Then and Now

I am grateful to Mary Stewart and Thelma Lowry for the next image which is of the interior of Downpatrick in 1967 immediately following its previous renovation and redecoration in the 1960s. This picture was taken on the day of Thelma’s wedding in the church:

Church renovations 1967

As can be seen the colour scheme is quite different to what we are used to today as this picture taken by Down County Museum in 2014 shows:

NonSubscribingChurch--36

In the five years since this picture was taken a number of features have changed, including the addition of furniture and wall plaques. The ‘Squire’s Gallery’ is tidier too! But there is a different feel entirely to the interior, which is believed to be one much closer to the original interior of 1711.

Visit to seven churches – in one day

I was pleased to lead members of Reclaim the Enlightenment on a tour of no less than seven Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Churches on Saturday, 26th October. We were fortunate to enjoy a beautiful bright day and although we couldn’t see everything or hear the full story in each place we did cover a lot of ground and saw a great deal. We visited, in turn, All Souls’, Belfast; Dunmurry (where the ladies kindly provided very welcome sustenance in the form of tea and scones); Rademon; Clough; Downpatrick; Ballee and Killinchy. As we went around the congregations we were welcomed by clergy and church members and I gave a talk about each church in each place except in Rademon where Jim Ferris gave a wonderful talk about his church. Below are some images from the day. You can read about Reclaim the Enlightenment here.

RtEDunmurryExt

Dunmurry

RtEDunmurryHall

Refreshments at Dunmurry

RtERademon01

Rademon

RtEDownpatrick

Members of Reclaim the Enlightenment at Downpatrick

RtEBalleeBus

On our way back on the bus outside Ballee