Mossa’s Chip Van

My friend, Mossa, comes from Lebanon.img_0067 He used to own the chip shop in Kells, Co. Antrim, when I was minister there, and we hadn’t seen each other for 18 years until a few Saturday nights ago when, through a chance encounter, we met up again. It was great to see him and to renew our friendship.

These days Mossa, his wife, Violet, and their 3 sons, live close to Dungannon, and Mossa has a chip van which he parks at the Tamnamore Roundabout on the M1. He serves the best mixed kebab and chips in that part of the world and if you are ever in the area and are feeling a bit peckish, it’s a great place to stop. Continue reading “Mossa’s Chip Van”

Down Mexico Way

I had a phone call from Mexico last night, and of course my first question to my caller was about the swine flu. Erin Dunigan is a ministry student with PCUSA, a friend of my daughter’s, and a free-lance writer for the Presbyterian News Service. She splits her time between California and Mexico, and she was calling me to conduct an interview for the upcoming moderatorial year.

Sara, Julianne, and Erin
Sara, Julianne, and Erin

I imagined that everyone in Mexico would be walking around wearing face masks, and avoiding other people as much as possible, but Erin quickly disabused me of that perception. Where she is, in Baja, it is many miles from Mexico City (over 1,700) and life goes on pretty much as normal. No one seems to be excessively worried about the virus, she says, and given the beautiful climate, life in that part of Mexico sounds very pleasant indeed. Continue reading “Down Mexico Way”

President Obama’s Ulster family

For the benefit of my North American friends, and by way of celebration of the 100th day of the Obama presidency, it’s worth pointing out that President Obama has not-so-close family connections to Co Fermanagh. The family resemblance is not that obvious, but it doesn’t stop them from claiming the connection!dsc01385

It would be great if the President and First Lady came to this part of the world in the next twelve months. It’s probably my only chance to meet the most famous couple in the world. Failing that, I will just have to make do with the cardboard cut-out which I spotted in Union Station, Washington D.C. last summer.

The Methodists are the best

So says Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein, in a recent RTE interview on The Meaning of Life. It was a really intriguing interview. Gerry says that some time ago he resolved to remain a Catholic, but admits that some of his beliefs are a bit “Protestant”. He doesn’t think he needs a middle man when it comes to God and he hasn’t gone to confession for years. And when asked if the host at holy communion is the real body of Jesus Christ, he replied, “Who knows?” He thinks the Methodists are the best. I have a lot of friends who would agree with him on that point! But he likes the democratic nature of Presbyterianism. And the fact that Christian denominations are divided he reckons is “madness”. “I like the gospel. I think that Jesus Christ was a mighty man,” he said. Continue reading “The Methodists are the best”

Globalisation and Mission

img_0061My former colleague at Westminster Seminary, Dr Sue Baker, has edited a collection of essays in honour of our mutual friend, Manny Ortiz. Sue’s own contribution to the volume is a thought-provoking article entitled: Globalisation: How Should Mission Respond?

In reflecting on the drawbacks of technological advances, Sue warns that the speed of communication could be at the expense of relationships, and that people in mission, both local and distant, must resist the temptation of spending five to six hours a day in front of a computer screen and relatively little time with people. That certainly seems like a problem for those in ministry anywhere. Is this blog just another symptom of the disease? Maybe I should have gone to visit a family in my congregation rather than write this? Continue reading “Globalisation and Mission”