Stand Up for the Risen Lord

99cupIt is very disappointing, to say the least, that the European Rugby decision-makers have decided that Ulster’s quarter-final match against Munster will be played at 1.45pm on Easter Sunday. Given the Christian commitment of so many Ulster supporters, as well as the players, it is worse than unfortunate that the ERC authorities have in effect denied Christian supporters of Ulster the opportunity of supporting their team in this important match.

I love Ulster Rugby and for the past number of years I have been a season ticket holder at Ravenhill. Friday nights at Ravenhill are great events, and have been enjoyed by many Christian youth groups as a good social outing. But my commitment to Jesus Christ takes precedence over anything else, and on the most important day in the Christian calendar I plan to be with my fellow Christians worshipping and praising my Risen Saviour. I am grieved that I cannot travel to Thomond Park to stand up for the Ulstermen. I imagine that a significant number of my fellow supporters will also be very disappointed and will feel that their “right” to support their team has been taken away from them.

It’s not that I want everyone to conform to a strict sabbatarian position with regard to sport, and I recognise that there is tradition among many people on this island of participating in and supporting sport on Sunday. But for those of us who are committed to our local church each Sunday, and especially on Easter Sunday, this decision means that we are unable to follow our team to Limerick.

Some years ago there was a controversy over Ulster being required to play their home matches on Sundays and that decision was quickly reversed following representations from the Ulster supporter lobby. I hope that the reaction of Ulster supporters puts some pressure on the ERC to re-think this bad decision.

Pussy cat, pussy cat…

images-1I have an invitation to a special service at Westminster Abbey next week which I’m looking forward to very much. I’ll write a report when I get back.


16 November 2011 at Noon

Her Majesty The Queen accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will attend a service of celebration, in association with the King James Bible Trust, to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible at Westminster Abbey on 16 November at 12 noon.

The place of the King James Bible in our culture and the continuing significance of the Word will be celebrated in the service.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams will give the Address. A new composition by one of the winners of the King James Bible Trust Composition Awards, Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind by American composer, Zachary Wadsworth will be performed by the Choir of Westminster Abbey, conducted by James O’Donnell.

Following the service the Abbey’s bells will be rung to a peal of Stedman Caters comprising 5,400 changes.

Lancelot Andrewes, Dean of Westminster 1601-1605, was Director of the first Westminster Company responsible for translating part of the Old Testament. It is believed that the translators met in the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster Abbey, a room also used by subsequent translators.

The service is part of a series of Abbey events marking the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Jean Carson 1921-2011

dsc00032My mother, Jean Carson, died today. For all of her 90 years, apart from the past 7 months in a nursing home in Portadown, she lived in Larne, Co. Antrim. She was born and raised at Larne Harbour, one of Jack and Rosena McClean’s six children. She is survived by her brother, Billy McClean (Larne) and her sister, Rose McBride (Sydney, Australia).

In 1939, as an eighteen year-old girl, she committed her life to Jesus Christ, and that commitment was the enduring and dominant feature of her life. She married my father, Willie, in 1950. My father came from Waringstown, Co Down, and following their marriage he worked at the linen factory at Millbrook, just outside Larne, and then for over 20 years he was the Parks Superintendant in Larne Borough Council.

As young people, my mother and father had met at meetings held in the Ulster Temple, Ravenhill Road, Belfast. Both were members of the Elim Church, and for a lifetime they worshipped in the Elim Church in Larne where my father was an elder. In recent years my mother belonged to the fellowship that meets at Larne Mission Hall. She began her working life in The Cash Drapery in Larne, then in Tweedy Acheson’s, and for a number of years worked in Joseph Semple’s drapery shop on Main Street. She loved her home town and lived all her married life in the same house in Kent Avenue.

Today I give thanks to Almighty God for the memory of a good and godly mother.

Belfast Marathon

Ken Todd, former Methodist President, was my running buddy

I did it! I managed to complete my leg of the Belfast Marathon as a member of one of Tearfund’s relay teams. It was a great occasion, with everyone in high spirits. The whole event was bathed in glorious sunshine, and with a cool breeze, the conditions were ideal. It was unfortunate that our Ethiopian colleagues did not get their visas in order to be able to travel so that they could run with us.

There was quite a bit of mutual encouragement and support among the runners as we made our way through the city centre and up the Falls Road. The people along the side of the road clapped and shouted their encouragements as they urged us on. I was worried that the hills might destroy me, but I was pleasantly surprised that we managed to negotiate them comfortably. If I had been running alone, and without encouragement, it would have been a much more painful experience. Is that not a parable of the Christian life?

The most noteworthy aspect of the event, apart from the huge number of participants, was the number of people who were running for charities and good causes, and my running buddy, Ken, observed that there is something distinctly spiritual about this kind of altruistic activity. All kinds of organisations and foundations were represented among the runners, underscoring the fact that there is a huge amount of human need in our world and in our own community.  Clearly, doing something for the benefit of others lifts the human spirit and makes people feel good.

My minor success in this event has encouraged me to consider repeating it next year, DV. I just hope that Belfast City Council don’t change the marathon to a Sunday and thereby exclude people like me, and many others, who are committed to the programme of our churches each Sunday.

If you would like to contribute to Tearfund, then go to the Just Giving website and make a generous donation. What an encouragement that will be to our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia!

Running a leg!

P1010031I am hoping to run a leg of the Belfast Marathon on May Bank Holiday Monday in order to support the work of Tearfund in Ethiopia. The first leg of the relay will be run by two Ethiopian church leaders, so that should get us off to a good start! Imagine being part of a relay team that includes Ethiopian runners! It will all quickly deteriorate, however, with me on the second leg from Bridge End to Hillview Road. The very name, Hillview Road, says it all. It’s a short up-hill leg that is bound to kill me.

Other church leaders who are taking part are Bishop Harold Miller, Rev Ken Todd, Former Methodist President, Rev. David McClay, co-leader of New Wine Ireland, Dave Dunlop, Windsor Baptist Pastor, Dave Dickinson, Alpha Ireland and Beth Laverty, 24/7 Prayer Ireland. We will be joined by over 100 other church members who are running in support of Tearfund. Continue reading “Running a leg!”