From Our Minister

Pastoral posts created by the minister

Despite the heat, this World Cup leaves me cold

Those who know me, know I am a huge soccer fan, I watch it on TV and get to live games whenever I can. Since the age of about 5, thanks to my grandad, I have been a passionate Arsenal fan, living through the glory days of Arsne Wenger and the slumps before and after. Like all ” Gooners” I am basking in our revival and a hopeful return to those glory years under Wenger. I have owned every bit of Arsenal merchandise ever made; when alive, my dog Bobby wore an Arsenal collar, and I am a familiar sight around the church in my Arsenal baseball cap. As much as I love soccer, as much as it excites me, the prospect of this World Cup, the traditional battle of the worlds footballing giants is leaving me cold.
Bill Shankly once commented that football was more important than life or death, now it seems both life and death do not matter to a game that has been consumed by money. The World Cup is a spectacle, universally watched and enjoyed by all ages, its image I fear has been tarnished, its principles sold, it has given away its soul.
Some say that sport should be beyond politics, but this is not politics. This is life and death. The death of over 6,000 migrant workers in the construction phase simply cannot be ignored, Qatar’s treatment of those who are LGBTQI+ likewise cannot be brushed under the carpet, the rights of women and young girls cannot be ignored. The players did not choose this venue, they had no say but those who did surely have questions to answer because it seems Bill Shankly ironically may have been right; football is more than life or death and that is footballs shame.

A Lesson from the Nuns of Kylemore

As you may have read elsewhere on our website, on Sunday 21st August, Irish Unitarians held an historic service in the chapel of Kylemore abbey, a service at which I was honoured to deliver the sermon. As well as a major tourist attraction, the Abbey is primarily home to a community of contemplative Benedictine nuns. Living their lives within the abbey grounds they do so in the spirit of the Benedictine motto; Ora et Labora– Pray and Work. After and during the service, I couldn’t help be struck by a number of things as I chatted to Abbess and members of her community. First, their openness to other faiths, their sense of God as the God of all people, their humility, warmth and kindness but most of all their smiles and humour, all blending wonderfully to make a group of Irish Unitarians feel welcome and at home. People often ask; well what is the point of monks and nuns who lock themselves away to live a life of prayer away from the world? That question misses the whole point; they are not removed from life but are very much a part of it, what’s more they offer a powerful witness as to the depth and joy of life, if only we take a moment to stop and recognise it.

All the best for now

Rev Mike

You’d never buy a horse without seeing it!!

A glimpse of the new chapel, for more visit the ” Announcements” page

During Covid, like everyone else, we had to adapt and like many others took ourselves on-line and entered a whole new reality. Today, we have a ” blended” congregation as those in the building are joined by our friends on-line. We have people joining us from all over Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Brazil and the USA and those are just the ones we know about! Make no mistake, its great and we have embraced it with gusto! When I was a young lad, a neighbour of ours at home used to say; ” you’d never buy a horse without seeing it first!”.

Now that we ever emerging from Covid, there is nothing like the human contact we all missed so much. So, while we love having our on-line congregants, if you can, if you live near enough, why not pop in and see us in person some Sunday. We are a friendly, easy going bunch, we don’t take ourselves that seriously and when it comes to God, faith, religion and church; we are just about as diverse as you can possibly imagine and yet it works!

Olympic Thoughts

As I write the Tokyo Olympics are entering there final week. The absence of crowds has made this a very surreal event, but it has not diminished from the extraordinary performances that every Olympics brings. We have witnessed the smiles and the tears of those receiving medals, have all been lifted by the four medals won for Ireland ( so far!) and we have witnessed the disappointment of those whose turn it wasn’t. The Olympics remind us of two very important lessons in life. First, success, whatever that be for each of us, doesn’t just happen. Athletes don’t just turn up and win a medal. It takes hard work, persistence, determination and a lot of sacrifice and courage. But more than that, every journey to success begins with a dream, never give up on yours.

Blessings – Rev Mike

A Blended Community

As churches return to in person gatherings, there has been much debate over the past year about on-line worship. Some have suggested that it is not really church, taking the view that under the circumstances enforced by the pandemic it was merely something of a “ holding pattern”, like planes circling an airport waiting to land. While it is great to our church open, to see the masked faces, the smiles reflected in eyes, it is also a chance to reflect on what church means. During a recent sermon, I referred to our church as may be being “ church sans frontiers”, a church without borders. We are a new church, a blended community, all as one, be it in person or on-line, be you sitting in the building on a Sunday morning or watching from your kitchen, you are our community.

As you read this, it’s worth bearing in mind that you are reading this on your phone, tablet or laptop because of a Unitarian. The internet was created by Tim Berners- Lee, a Unitarian. That’s our spirit, it has always been and always will be. We engage with our world, we engage with the human condition, with our ever- expanding knowledge of both, we seek knowledge, not to own it or lock it away but because life isn’t static, it’s a journey, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes messy and complicated, often confusing and the great thing is nobody can truly say; “ yep, I’ve got this worked out”. The only truth is, we are all looking, all searching for something, all spinning around at astronomical speeds on a ball of rock in space, all here for a reason. Whether we realise it or not, we are all in this together!