Posts tagged ‘Parish’

July 24, 2013

A walk through history

Last Sunday our Parish took part in the Clonakilty 400 celebrations.  We walked from the site of the ancient church to the ‘new’ church that was built in 1818.  Here is a gallery of photos from the day…

Here are the words I spoke in the church service:

21st July 2013, Kilgarriffe Parish Church, Clonakilty.  

I would like to thank Tomás Tuipéar for his excellent talk up at the old church site and for giving me all the fascinating bits of history that I am about to share with you and for all his help in preparation for today.  There are many others to thank also, including Councillor John Loughnan, the Mayor Phil O’Regan and members of the town council, Cork County Council (who did a huge job in preparing the walkway for us today), members of Clonakilty Duchas and of course the Clonakilty 400 committee, without which the walk would not have been possible. Thank you to our bus drivers John and John, and a special thanks to our churchwardens, Joyce and Elma, organist Roy, Ernie, Jean, Tommy and to the many others who have more than played their part in making this event happen…

This church building where we are now takes its name from the ancient church at the old Kilgarriffe, from which many of us have walked.  The name Kilgarriffe comes from the Gaelic ‘Cill’ (kill) meaning church and ‘Garbh’ (gorrive) meaning rough or rough ground.  Kilgarriffe is of course also a townland and gives its name to the Civil Parish of Kilgarriffe as well.

When Clonakilty was set up in the early sixteen hundreds, church life moved from the ancient Kilgarriffe to this place.  Historians believe this was the site of the Clogh ny Kylte castle recorded in 1367; it would have been usual to have a church or chapel of ease attached to such a castle.

The castle of Clogh ny Kylte didn’t survive the many battles of the time but it is possible that the chapel attached to it did.  In 1605 settlers are recorded here and called the ‘Portreve and Corporation of Cloughnakilty’. Their place of worship is not known but when the charter of 1613 was granted, the limits of the borough were measured from this place and referred to as ‘the old chapel’.

Richard Boyle, who was made lord of the town, is credited with building a church for worship on this site in 1613, then In 1615, James Worth is recorded as Vicar.

The next reference is in 1663 when the inhabitants of the parishes of Island, Kilkerranmore, Desert and Ardfield were united by commission to repair the church of Cloghnikilty – 139 years later in 1802, the building was re-roofed and a gallery added.  Then in 1818 it was taken down and the present church erected on the site at a cost of £1,300.  The church contains a chalice (which you can see on the Communion Table) with the following inscription ‘This cup was made in the year 1636. Humphrey Jobson Esq. and John Baker, gentleman, being church wardens.

In the Bible we have a wonderful description of the church as being made up of ‘living stones’ (1 Peter 2:4-6).  We often think of a church as a building made up of blocks of cut stone, but isn’t it a powerful image to picture the church instead as being made up of living stones, of all the people who worship together with their common foundation in Christ?  As we listened to Tómas earlier, his infectious enthusiasm helped to bring the history of that ancient place to life and my mind was transported back, imagining what the people were like and what kind of lives they lived and how for the vast majority life must have been very hard.  Their belonging to the church of ‘living stones’ must have been at least as important to them as it is for us today.  As their spiritual descendants, may each of us, regardless of what building we worship in remember that as living stones we are part of that one church founded on Christ, whose great privilege is to pass on the faith to those who would come after us so that the history of the church in this part of the world might go on being written.  Wouldn’t it be great if at the celebration of the ‘Clonakilty 800’, a mere 400 years from now that our descendants could celebrate even more than we can today all that God has done in His church and that any religious divisions of the past would be nothing more than an historical footnote?  May God bless us and bring us together more and more as Living Stones for the glory of His name, Amen.

January 18, 2013

A holy enchantment


Nikon D7000, 35mm f1.8 G DX,  (1/250 sec, f8, ISO 400) Processed in Instagram.

It was Sunday morning.  As usual I was in a hurry to get myself ready and get out of the door, into the car and on my way to church to make it in time for the 9.00am service.  To make matters worse when I did get to the car it was coated in ice!  I quickly dashed back inside and filled a large jug with warm water to defrost the windows.  I was really running late now (or so I thought).  I drove reasonably quickly whilst taking care to be on the lookout for patches of ice on the road.  The sun was just coming over the low hills on the Eastern horizon, it was spectacular.  I had the camera in my bag and I started to think about how I would find the time to take a photo.

Much to my surprise I arrived in Timoleague in good time, I was early.  At the entrance to the village I pulled over and got out with my camera to try to get a picture of the Abbey ruins with the sun rising behind it, but there was a problem – I only had a 35mm lens, which meant that the Abbey was too far away and there would have been too much junk in the foreground of the picture – I really needed 150mm or more to get the right shot.  A voice in my head said ‘drive on, keep going’.  I got back in the car and drove to just beside the Abbey, facing the estuary, the tide was high.  I got out of the car and walked over to the water’s edge.  As I was lifting the camera to my eye I heard a flapping noise to my left; my presence had alerted a duck and he was now flying low across the water.  He came into the viewfinder and I waited until he was in just the right spot and then I pressed the shutter release.  I had my photo, but much more importantly I was now relaxed and ready for worship, my stress had gone.  Somehow in that moment by the water’s edge I connected with God, with His Creation as a means, a platform for holy enchantment.

October 9, 2012


‘Roots and Stream’, Cumbria 2012. (Panasonic LX1, 1/30 sec, f3.2, 8.7mm, ISO 80) Larger version here.

Every Sunday in our Parish notices we have a ‘Memory Verse’, a sentence or two from the Bible to encourage, comfort or challenge the reader.  The verse from last Sunday was still wending it’s way through the alcoves of my mind as I was looking through some pictures taken during our summer holiday.  As I came across the photo above it was just asking to be paired with that verse:

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

(Colossians 2:7)
New Living Translation

January 12, 2012

“… so that our church does not die out with us.”

Overgrown church building

Below you will find the sermon from last Sunday as I had it printed out, (I think it came out a bit differently but anyway there was some interest in it so I thought I would post it here).  The picture above was taken at the ruins of Lislee church, near Courtmacsherry.

Text: Mark 1.4-11

A happy New Year to you all!  One thing I love about a New Year is that it is a reminder to us that God is a God of ‘new beginnings’ and that it is never too late (while there is breath in our body) to have a new start.  But of course it is not just at New Year, but all the year round that God works and He is always doing new and exciting things.

Recently I was listening to a talk by Nicky Gumbel (the man who started the Alpha course), about the church where he serves in London.  He reminisced about when he first started going there as a parishioner and how in those days there was a very small congregation and they were mostly elderly.  At their equivalent to a vestry meeting they said to the Vicar, (a chap called Sandy Miller), ‘Yes, we like traditional church services and the old language, but please do whatever you need to do so that our church does not die out with us.’  So, many changes were gradually made and one of them was to take the pews out of the church and replace them with chairs, so they could do more things with the large space.  Nicky Gumbel loves the chairs and now twenty or so years later he finds himself in a similar position to the older folk when he was young and that is to the young people of today, chairs are a hindrance and just so old-fashioned; they just want an empty floor!   The thing about chairs is that you are stuck in them and the young people love to be able to move around freely, sit in groups get up and go over to another group and so on.  So Gumbel says that even though he loves the chairs and finds it difficult when they are not there, he is willing to not have them at some of the church services for the sake of generation who are growing up in the church.

Why am I going on about this?  One reason is that I want us to start thinking a bit more about the future of the parish but mainly it is because I believe that there is a connection with our reading from Mark’s Gospel.  The Jewish people were very traditional and very stuck in their ways and it was John the Baptist’s job to wake them up.  Have you ever had someone throw a glass of cold water on your face?  Well, that is what John came to do, as Tom Wright puts it:

“John’s ministry burst in upon the surprised Jewish world.  Many had been looking for a sign from God, but they hadn’t expected it to look like this.  Many had wanted a Messiah to lead them against the Romans, but they weren’t anticipating a prophet telling them to repent”. (From Mark for Everyone, SPCK)

What did John want the people to do to be ready for Jesus?  He called them to ‘repent’, to turn around and start walking in the right direction, to wake up to God’s reality.  John wanted people to be ready for the new thing that God was doing.

While the other gospel writers give us more detail on the Lord’s baptism, Mark gets directly to the point, he tells us:

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ (v.9-11)

One striking thing here is the words of the Father, which in one translations reads:

‘You are my wonderful son; you make me very glad.‘

I don’t know what it is, but in our part of the world the relationship that fathers have with their sons is such that it is not unusual for sons to never hear things such as ‘my dear child’ or ‘I’m very pleased with you’, or even simply ‘I love you’.  I believe that these words of the Father to Jesus, the Son should be an encouragement to all of us Fathers who have sons, to follow the example given to us, to tell our sons that we love them, that we are pleased with them and how much joy they give to us and how proud we are of them.  As a father, it might be one of the most important things we ever do.

The account of Jesus’ baptism is very important not just for the relationship that we see between the Father and the Son but also their relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Now sometimes our lectionary readings come together remarkably well and today is one of them.  All of the readings show God at work doing new things by the Person, work and power of the Holy Spirit.  In the reading from Genesis chapter 1, it is the Spirit of God that broods over the chaos of the deep and breathes God’s creative life into it.  As Jesus is baptised God’s Spirit settles on Him, affirming His identity and mission.  In the reading from Acts we hear how a group of new believers break into a whole new dimension of faith as they are baptised with both water and the Holy Spirit and yes if we engage with this reading it is a bit like a wake up call, like a glass of cold water being thrown in our face.

There are of course many people today who think that Jesus was a great teacher, who gave us an important moral code and ethical guidelines as ideals to strive for, but then they leave it at that.  Jesus though is not past tense, He is alive today working with the Father and the Spirit as He always has and always will.  The option to see Him as just a good moral teacher is not enough.  He wants to do new things in us and through us.  He wants to indwell us by His Spirit so that the words of the Father to Jesus that day become the same words that He says to us.  “He sees us, not as we are in ourselves, but as we are in Jesus Christ.  It sometimes seems impossible, especially to people who have never had this kind of support from their earthly parents, but it’s true:  God looks at us, and says, ‘You are my dear, dear child; I’m delighted with you.’” (Tom Wright, Mark For Everyone)

Your Heavenly Father loves you so very much, believe it.

In a similar way to that in which the Holy Spirit brooded over the face of the deep at the dawn of Creation, so He broods over us.  God wants to breathe His new life and love into the darkened chaos of our doubts, fears and sin.  He strongly desires to cleanse us with the blood of His Son and for us to let Him in, let Him work, let Him act in us and through us.

Change is something that typically the older we get the more difficult we can find to accept, whether it be the change that God wants to work in us as individuals or change that He wants to happen in the Church.  Over the past while as I have been driving around different parts of the country I have noticed more clearly than I ever have before the number of closed church buildings there are.  Now of course we can argue that church buildings are closed because of changes in population, emigration, intermarriage, Ne Temere and so on but I think the overwhelmingly greatest reason for church closure is the refusal to pass on the gospel to the generations to come in a way that is relevant to their language and culture.  Thankfully there are many churches and parishes that have successfully passed on the gospel message to the new generations and as you know this is something that we try (with limited success to do here) but I think no one would disagree that we need to be a lot braver and less tentative about it.  God wants to do new things in you and me and I believe he wants to do new things in this church and in this parish because He does not want this church to die out with the generations represented here today.  Remember that God is a God not of endings, but of new beginnings!  Let us pray… Amen.

September 11, 2009

We’re moving Parish – initial thoughts…

Well I don’t know how to write it so I’ll just put the words down as they come to me. We are moving. Yes, I can’t believe it, but this place which has become our home we will soon be saying farewell to. It is exciting but it is also very sad to be leaving behind such a wonderful bunch of people. It was hard to phone parishioners and tell them the news, folk who have been there for me and my family in so many ways over the past six and a half years that we have had the privilege to be here.

But do you know what, I never felt so appreciated in my work as when I made the phone calls. People reminded me of weddings, baptisms, funerals (oh there have been so many, too many of those) and other high and low points in their lives where I had some privileged access or responsible part to play. To be involved in so many lives, often in very painful, stressful or joyous times is an incredible (here’s that word again) privilege.

It’s impossible therefore not to get really attached to people and so it will be very hard to say good bye. What can you do though, when you feel with such clarity in your spirit that it is time for a move? When God is so clearly leading, one is compelled to follow.

As we move west to Kilgariffe Union (Clonakilty) we will be sad, but we will also be very excited at a new beginning, so many opportunities ahead, new people to get to know, a new home to live in and all the many minute changes to every day life that on their own don’t amount to much but put all together form a quite different life to the one that was lived before.

I’m sure I will read over this tomorrow and not understand a word I wrote, but this is a big thing for me and my family and it’s going to take some getting used to. To be both sad and excited at the same time is a strange feeling…

June 1, 2009

A Fête (not) worse than death

Camera: Olympus OM-1, Lens: G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Film Fujifilm Reala 100

Camera: Olympus OM-1, Lens: G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Film Fujifilm Reala 100

Camera: Olympus OM-1, Lens: G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Film Fujifilm Reala 100

We enjoyed great weather for our Parish Fete in Glanmire recently. It’s really good to see everyone from different parts of the Parish coming together to get this thing organised every year. Even though it’s a real slog and people get fed up, by the time it’s all over we are agreed that it wasn’t the “Fête worse than death” that we had all feared!

The above photos were all taken on my old Olympus OM-1 film camera and the negatives scanned using an Epson 4490 flatbed scanner. If you are interested you can see more photos on our Parish web site.