Friday 31 December 2010

A New Year Prayer for January 2011

John Wesley, 1703-1791

During Epiphany we reflect on how God reveals his nature to us. A natural response is to pray that he may reveal himself to others in and through us. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who remained a priest in the Church of England all his life, encouraged his flock to make this covenant with God to be his in all things. Methodists still use it at Covenant Services, traditionally held at the start of the New Year.

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty;
let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

adapted from John Wesley's Covenant Prayer,
as used in the Methodist Covenant Service, 1974

Friday 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas one and all!

Wishing You
A Very Happy and Blessed Christmas

and all the very best for 2011
from Joc & Marty Sanders

I like this Madonna by Albin Egger-Lienz (1868-1926) because of the luminous warmth of the light, and also because the artist was born just outside the lovely town of Lienz in the Austrian East Tyrol, where we stayed last summer. On the first morning we were woken by the sound of marching bands leading Tyrolean sharp-shooters in traditional uniform. They were parading to an open-air Corpus Christi Day mass across the main square from our hotel. Dressing quickly, I joined the worshippers in the street and did my best to follow it in German - a marvellous experience!

Thursday 9 December 2010

150th Anniversary Celebration of St Mary’s Church of Ireland, Nenagh

The Nenagh Union of parishes extend a very hearty invitation to all, to join with us in St Mary’s Church, Church Rd., Nenagh, on Sunday 19th December at 3 pm, for an Advent Eucharist to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of St Mary’s Church of Ireland, at which Archbishop of Armagh Alan Harper will preach and Bishop of Limerick & Killaloe Trevor Williams will preside. Refreshments will be served afterwards.

Archbishop of Armagh Alan Harper

Readers may be interested in the following historical details.

The vision to build the present St Mary’s came from the then Rector, Rev. James Hill Poe. It replaced a church of the same name which was unfit for purpose in Kenyon St, of which only the tower remains. The first planning meeting was held on May 6th 1855, and the new church was finally consecrated on 19th December 1860 – 150 years to the day before this year’s celebration.

The site was donated by Carroll Watson, Attorney, of Brookwatson. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were informed that the parish would contribute £200 towards the cost, but replied that this was not enough. After various delays, plans were received, but they did not include a spire or gallery. Further negotiation was needed before permission was given for them.

The Rev. James Hill Poe died in 1859, without seeing his plans fulfilled. Work finally began in September of that year. The church was designed in the Gothic style by Joseph Wellard, one of the Irish pupils of Edward Pugin, and the pictures show that his design was followed closely. The plans included a neat tower surmounted by a sword-like spire.

Original architect's drawing of St Mary's

The building-contractor was Mr Hunter of Bandon, but of course many local craftsmen were employed. It took over a year to complete the task.

A bell cast in the Sheffield foundry of Nalor & Vickers, presented by John Bennett, Churchwarden, was installed in the tower. The organ, built by Telford of Dublin, was especially designed to expose to view a pretty stained-glass rose window in the gable end.

Opening Ceremony, 1860
St. Mary's Church was consecrated and opened for worship on Wednesday, 19th December 1860, as recorded in the Nenagh Guardian of that day. The Bishop of Killaloe, Lord Riversdale, was present "though somewhat feeble of limb" and the congregation numbered about 700. The choir sang an anthem composed for the occasion by the newly appointed organist, Robert Atkinson, while the preacher was Archdeacon Roe, rector of Roscrea and one of the leading orators of the time.

150 Years of History
Since its erection, the church has undergone no structural change and the Nenagh Guardian’s description of 1860 still stands:
The building... consists of nave, aisle and chancel. A light gallery spans the West-end… The chancel is lighted by three lofty lancet opes (windows)… The flooring… laid with encaustic tiling pavement of very neat pattern.

The church has since witnessed the worship of generations of parishioners, as well as their baptisms, marriages and funerals. They have lovingly maintained it and beautified it with many memorial gifts. The church was entirely re-roofed in 2003-5 at a cost of €230,000, and this year it has been completely redecorated as part of the anniversary celebrations.

Do come to see all that has been achieved by the grace of God!

Thursday 2 December 2010

December prayer - A child's prayer at Christmas

Singing “Vom Himmel Hoch” from a church tower at Christmas
by Ludwig Richter
Luther was no puritan – he loved music, he loved children, and he had a deep feeling for the festival of Christmas. What better, then, than this prayer he wrote as a carol for his own children, to pray together as we look forward expectantly through Advent for the birth of Jesus, our incarnate Lord, on Christmas day.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle-song,

Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth!

Martin Luther, 1483-1546
The last 3 verses of the carol
“Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her”
which he wrote in 1531 for his children.
Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1855