Friday, June 20, 2008


Drumalis House
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

The weekend prior to my ordination was spent on retreat. The venue for the retreat was Drumalis House, in Larne. The picture only shows the old house, but on the back, they are in the process of building a huge conference centre with first class accommodation. Seriously, the rooms are like something out of the Hilton.

The retreat itself was led by Paul Hewitt, Rector of Glencraig. Through three sessions we considered the theme of 'Who Do You Think You Are', reflecting on our faith journies, and the skills that God has endowed us with for the task at hand.

The weather was fantastic, and at times you would have thought it was a walking holiday, as some of us went for a walk along the Antrim coast to the Black Arch on the Friday afternoon, and then I went on a photo walk on the Saturday with a local Bernie.

The time apart also enabled me to read a couple of books (as well as the Scriptures, of course), which were very helpful. The first, I had read before, and enjoyed it again, as well as being profoundly challenged by it. 'The Work Of The Pastor' by William Still sets out the vital task of the pastor, which is to teach the Word, feeding the sheep. By setting this as priority, many pastoral situations which otherwise may arise are dealt with in the normal teaching, faithfully expounding the Scriptures in a systematic way.

In reminding the pastor of the call to feed the sheep, he also states that the pastor's job is not to entertain goats. Let goats entertain goats in goatland, is his memorable phrase. I highly recommend this book to all pastors, as a refreshing reminder of the key task of leadership in the Church.

The second book I read was 'McCheyne From The Pew.' This is a look at the ministry of Robert Murray McCheyne of St Peter's Church in Dundee, through the diary entries of one of his elders, a Mr Lamb. What a blessing to read of how one pastor was faithful in declaring the whole counsel of God to his congregation, and the fruits that came from it. All the more so, when we remember that McCheyne died at the age of 29, yet his legacy lives on to this day.

Both books had, at various times, alluded to or discussed the passage from Acts 20 where Paul's farewell to the Ephesian elders is recorded. Time and again prior to the ordination, Acts 20:28 has been given to me - 'Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.'

The retreat was then finished off with the Bishop's Charge, with Bishop Harold guiding me through a study on Acts 20 - loud and clear, again the same message!

Guess what is going to be guiding my ministry? Yes, Acts 20:28. Amen.

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