Monday, June 30, 2008

The Family

The Family
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

In college, John and Carmen were like Lesley and mine's ma and da, and here we are all united after Carmen's ordination in Armagh Cathedral. Just Lesley Vet to get into a collar now ;-)

Carmen Hayes and William McCracken were ordained Deacon on Sunday 29th June, St Peter's Day. Carmen will now be Curate-Assistant in St Mark's Parish, Portadown, and William will be working in Camlough and Mullaglass Parishes.

Some of our college folks were remarking on the fact that both John and myself had managed to match our clerical shirts to the pinstripe on our suits!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Deacon Damien

Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

Earlier this week Carmen and myself took a crazy road trip the length of the island, down to Cork. Our destination was Bandon, in West Cork, where Damien Keane was ordained to the order of Deacon, to serve in the Curacy of the Bandon Union of Parishes.

The photo was taken after the service, at the bun fight. Interesting to note that we both chose Presbyterian Blue for our shirt colour...

Please be praying for Carmen (on the right) as she prepares to be ordained on Sunday in Armagh Cathedral.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Snails. Yum Yum

Snails. Yum Yum
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

I've been going through some old photos recently and uploading some to Flickr. It's mostly because I haven't had the time (or the weather) to take as many photos recently.

One such old photo was from our holiday in France two summers ago, when staying with Clotilde's family. It was from one of our last nights, when we had gone to Bordeaux. Steve ordered snails to give us all a taste, and here they are, before they went down the hatch.

All I can remember is that they were a bit salty, but didn't taste much else. Yuck!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Doctor, Doctor

In honour of Lynsey passing exams and now being a Doctor, I present some Doctor, Doctor jokes for your cringing or for your entertainment.

Doctor, Doctor, I think I'm a pair of curtains.
Pull yourself together man.

Doctor, Doctor, I think I'm a bridge.
What's come over you?
Two cars, a lorry and a bus.

Doctor, Doctor, I feel like a pack of cards.
I'll deal with you later.

Doctor, Doctor, every time I drink a cup of coffee I get a stabbing pain in my eye.
Take the spoon out!

Doctor, Doctor, I've got wind. Can you give me something for it?
Here's a kite!

Doctor, Doctor, I think I'm a bee.
Buzz off!

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.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ordination Photos

I've set up a wee group on Flickr for photos from the Ordination. So far there are contributions from two friends, as well as my own pictures taken by Neil.



College Folk
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

First photos of the ordination. (Click on picture to see more)

What an amazing service! What a great God we serve!

Music was fantastic, I don't think I've ever heard singing like it, so joyful and great. Choir were brilliant. Excellent word from the Scriptures. Good attendance. Very encouraging. Big spread at the bun fight.

More cogent thoughts will follow in the days to come!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Beating The Retreat

Tomorrow begins my final preparations before ordination on Sunday. First up, a rehearsal for the service in the Cathedral, so that I know what's happening, what's expected, and who's doing what. At some point in the morning, I also make my Declarations. These are various statements of belief and practice which have to be subscribed to by those being ordained, as well as those being licensed, instituted or installed in the Church of Ireland. A few weeks ago, I was sent a copy of the Declarations, so I could have a look over them beforehand, and it fills an A4 page. But no problems, I willingly agree, assent and declare all that they contain!

Immediately after, I'll get out of my cassock, and drive off to Larne for the pre-ordination retreat. Two days in the company of the candidate Deacons for the Diocese of Connor, and led by Paul Hewitt, Rector of Glencraig.

In some ways, the past two weeks have a been a form of retreat, taking things a bit easier, and out of the normal press of life. These two days should be good, and useful preparation for the Ordination, and ministry afterwards.

At this stage, it's hard to know just how many people may well come along on Sunday night. It will be good to see some family and friends I haven't seen in a long time, and to have the support of friends from across the diocese, province, and island. But whether large or small, the important thing is that the congregation praises God for all that He has done. To Him be the glory.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quote of the Day - Chains

Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

I've just finished reading Dr Helen Roseveare's second book 'He Gave Us A Valley' and have enjoyed it immensely. Her first book 'Give Me This Mountain' (which is a quote from the Prayer of Jabez) tells of her work in the Congo, and this one tells the story of her work in Zaire, establishing a college to train paramedical health officers, nurses and midwives.

In some parts, you get the sense that she was frustrated to be out of the front line of missionary work. Yet the impact God had through her was remarkable, in releasing others to serve and evangelise while treating patients. Her account is one of honesty, as she relates her spiritual struggles and the bad times as well as the good times.

Towards the end, she comes back to a quote that two people had told her, which seems to sum up her experience. "'We can't all be the last link in the chain.' Being the last link may bring public acclaim and a sort of popularity: but being willing to be any link, however inconspicuous, brings happiness and lasting joy."

Are we being links in people's chains today, helping along the way to finding Christ? As someone once said, it's not about our ability, but rather about our availability.

Sunset Pier

Sunset Pier
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

I was out the other night in Donaghadee, and on the way home, saw the sun setting as I was coming towards Holywood. One of my friends on Flickr, Shutterbug has made this pier something of her trademark, but here's my take on it. I'm well satisfied with how the photos turned out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ordination Picture

On Sunday, Stephen was ordained deacon, as I've already said. After the service I pulled out my wee point-and-shoot camera to get a photo of him. Sadly, the batteries failed at the crucial moment. So, thanks to the Dublin and Glendalough website, here are the three candidates, Dean and Archbishop prior to the service:

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Dublin Ordination

The first of my classmates is now a deacon! I was down in Christ Church Cathedral Dublin for the ordination of Stephen Farrell, now serving as Curate Assistant of Taney Parish, Dublin. Also ordained were Robert Lawson and Anne-Marie O'Farrell.

As if the events of last week weren't enough to make it all very real - the buying of clerical shirts, the peek at the draft order of service - today was firm reality. Stephen is now a minister! And in just seven days, so shall I.

I'm off from Friday until Sunday on my pre-ordination retreat, so if you need to get in touch, do so in the next few days!

All are welcome to attend on Sunday night - the service is at 6.30pm in my home church, Dromore Cathedral.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Green Grassy Slopes

I paid a visit to the new Battle of the Boyne visitor centre today. I have to say it was very good, and well worth the visit. The house itself, Oldbridge House, contains some audio-visual information, displays and maps, which are good at describing and explaining the events on 1st July 1690 on the green grassy slopes of the Boyne.

The best display was the model of the battle site with running commentary and a coloured light display showing the movement of troops and the main points of activity. But the highlights of the trip had to be the outdoor exhibits. At 3pm there was a display of cavalry, where a lady dressed in Williamite garb demonstrated cavalry movements and associated warfare; then at 4pm two appropriately dressed men demonstrated musket fire.

All in all, a good new museum which will positively contribute to a better understanding of our shared past. Plan your visit today!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Big Brother

Tonight, the new series of Big Brother begins. Once again, the house will be full of mad people who are desperate to get on television. Once again, the papers, tv and internet will be full of the latest news and gossip from the series. Once again, the producers will engineer situations in the house to ensure maximum coverage and risqué content on the TV.

I won't be watching. I'm not entirely sure what the whole attraction of watching other people living is. Surely we should be living ourselves, rather than watching others live?

Plus, there's only so much we can know about people by watching them. No matter what they present on the outside, we don't know their hearts and intentions. We can't really know them.

But there is one who knows us more fully than we know ourselves.

1O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,"
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Look

The Look
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

The odd time I indulge in some 'street photography.' The concept is a documentary style, capturing people as they go about their business. I was out and about during the exam weeks in Dublin, trying to relax, when I captured this photo. I thought it says a lot about our society, especially, but not exclusively, the Dublin of the Celtic Tiger.

I was taking a photo of the young guy begging. He has fallen asleep. Wrapped in a blanket, huddled at the side of Henry Street.

Ignored by the many tourists and Dublin residents walking past, enjoying their shopping.

As I took the photo, this wee lad walked into shot, staring at the other boy. What innocence, and what is he thinking? Why is that boy begging?

What a state we collectively have gotten into - when we no longer hear the cries of the poor and the oppressed. Again, we're back to the question of what we are going to do for those who need us. Let's all learn from the compassion of this little lad, and come to our senses. The poor need us. The Kingdom needs us.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Prompted partly by Alan's comment on a recent post, I'm launching a little interactive competition for you, the readers. In a short while, I won't be an Ordinand any more, so the title of the blog will be somewhat out of date. No longer will I be writing the thoughts of a random ordinand. The question is, what should the blog be renamed as?

The thoughts of a random Curate?

The thoughts of a former ordinand?

Or should I move away from the thoughts of anything...?

Over to you - suggestions in comments, then we'll see where we go from there.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Welcoming the Stranger

Last week I was in the Tesco Lisburn store getting in some groceries. A regular part of the routine. Mum always complains when things are moved around the store, as she then forgets some essentials, not seeing them on the traditional route through the shop. I noticed last week that the back wall has been taken over by a new section called 'World Foods.' A major element is a whole variety of Polska (Polish) foods, as well as other cultures and countries.

Is Tesco trying to cut off the small food stores that rise up where there are significant numbers of immigrants in one area, supplying familiar food from home, tastes that they are used to? As Tesco would say, 'every little helps' to make the foreigners feel at home. Plus, it will boost their profits as well.

It got me thinking, though. If business like Tesco are going out of their way to make foreigners feel at home and to build up community, then what is the Church doing about it? No matter who you talk to, from across Northern Ireland, they have stories of the immigrant communities in every town and village. Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, etc.

These are people who need to hear of Jesus just as much as the Northern Ireland born and bred people. What are we going to do about it?

Could we start English language classes to help people learn the lingo and be able to understand natives better? Could we make available Bibles, books and tracts in their own languages? Could we have a drop-in to help them, and to help them see that the Church is a place of warmth and welcome?

Just a few ideas. In the past, Ireland was a source of missionary endeavour, whether it be Saint Columba or Saint Gall in the 5th century or so, or the misionaries with CMS and other mission agencies. Now, the world is coming to Ireland. Mission fields are on our doorstep. What are going to do about it?