This week Fr Martin Magill continued his ecumenical tithing with a visit to St Finnian’s Church, Cregagh (Church of Ireland). On reading his account, I was impressed by the hospitality offered there and also how he made a connection with the church through meeting young people from it at the Benedictine Monastery in Rostrevor.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: St Finnian’s Church, Cregagh (Church of Ireland)
During the week whilst on retreat in the Benedictine monastery near Rostrevor, I met 4 young people from St Finnian’s Church, Cregagh (Church of Ireland) which led me to choose to worship in their church. After cycling to St Finnian’s, I was greeted at the door of the church by some members of the parish and was assisted to find a place where I could leave my bike. Before the service began I chatted to a number of parishioners. In the course of one conversation, we got talking about the Comber Greenway and he suggested the idea of joining up all the different cycling and walking paths around the city in what he called the “Belfast Linear Pathway”.
The service began with the robed choir processing in to the opening hymn. None of the hymns were familiar to me but that didn’t stop me from joining in as best I could. After greeting visitors, the rector, Rev Jono Pierce read the announcements which included details of a “Come and Have Breakfast” later in the week. We then had a scripture reading from 1 Corinthians 10 beginning at verse 1.
The gospel passage came from Matthew 13 – the parable of the wheat and darnel (tares). I was struck by a number of points in the sermon:
- the challenge not to “trade on our reputation”,
- the danger of complacency,
- the need for self-knowledge,
- an encouragement to be aware of our areas of struggle/areas of weakness
Some examples were given – our use of money, the way we treat others, addiction and unhealthy eating. The rector used two stories to illustrate some of his points and encouraged us to have confidence in God’s faithfulness in times of temptation based on 1 Corinthians 10:13 –
“And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”. (NIV)
In the intercessions, we prayed for the diocese of Down and Dromore and Bishop Harold. On the international front, we prayed for the people of Egypt and those affected by the train crash in Spain. In the intercessions, we prayed for the sick, the poor and the bereaved; we were then given some quiet moments to pray for our individual needs. We then continued with the rest of the Holy Communion service which was beautifully led by the rector. When it came to the time for the distribution of Holy Communion, I received a blessing as my denominational discipline does not permit the reception of the Eucharist in other denominations. Whilst this is very sad, it did however provide me with the opportunity to pray for the day when Christians will be able to enjoy full Eucharistic hospitality across the denominations.
After the service a number of parishioners greeted me very warmly and expressed their delight at my presence at the service. One parishioner in discovering I was from Lenadoon, realised she knew one of the parishioners in my parish and was very keen I would pass on her best wishes. Jono was very generous in his time for conversation with me afterwards and assured me of a remembrance in his prayer. Instead of cycling back, one of the parishioners brought my bike and me back to St Oliver Plunkett Parish.
In short, let me encourage anyone who reads this account in full and who hasn’t been there: “go and worship in St Finnian’s, Cregagh; a warm welcome, a beautiful church and very good liturgy await you”.