Wednesday 25 March 2020

Vision 20/20 - Summary of Parish Conversation held on 9th February 2020

The following suggestions arose from a recent parish consultation held in all three churches on Sunday 9th February - While we are all largely housebound perhaps you might think about how you might be able to assist with any of the initiatives or suggest your own ideas.
email Rev Stephen:

·        Make worship more appealing
·       Visit the 'non attenders' on parish list 
·        Signage on road
·        Sunday School
·        WhatsApp / text messaging
·        Biodiversity development in church grounds - Eco/Environmental issues
·        Easter Deadline to make some progress

·   Education and consolidation of own values as we get involved in community work/outreach
·        Have we given up on young people?
·        Need to involve young practically and listen to their needs
·        Volunteers to set up Sunday School
·        Churches are already involved with social outreach
·        What are community and other churches doing that we are not?
·        Fellowship outside of Sunday worship
·        Accessible worship
·        Welcome and Hospitality
·        Church Hall as alternative informal/cosy worship venue
·        Youth Forum?
·     A variety of liturgies and other ways to include people - what about relaunching social group?
·        Home Visiting and/or Prayer group(s)
·        Use our buildings more effectively 

·        Childrens Services
·        Develop School/Parish relationship
·        Sunday School
·        More variety of services - from BCP to Contemporary Worship
·        COFFEE!!
·        Publicity/Advertise ourselves - external lighting/banners/ring bells
·        Greeting visitors/newcomers & Welcome literature
·        More focus awareness on/of giving to others
·        Open Church more often
·        WhatsApp / text messaging

Saturday 21 March 2020

Mothering Sunday 2020 - Online service from St Finian's Church of Ireland, Newcastle Co. Dublin



Praise God who loves us. Praise God who cares.

We praise you, our God, for all mothers who have loved and laughed and laboured as they cared for their children. Blessed be God for ever.
We praise you, our God, for all mothers who have wept in sorrow and joy for their children. Blessed be God for ever.
We praise you, our God, for Jesus, born of a woman and nurtured in her love, and for Mary, a reminder of your patient, waiting love. Blessed be God for ever.

SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE   As a mother comforts a child so will I comfort you, says the Lord.
                                                                                                                     Isaiah 66:13

INTRODUCTION: We thank God for mothers and carers around the world. It takes a very special love to care for a family. Today we’ll celebrate that love and thank God for his own perfect love for us all.
We’re not all mothers ourselves but we all have a mother, whether or not they are still with us, and we are all children of God. He is our loving Father but is also the one who remembers and comforts us as a mother comforts her child, and draws us close as a hen protects her chicks.

Dear Jesus,
We thank you for mothers and carers everywhere,
and for the special love they have for their children.
We thank you Jesus for your special care and comfort
and the perfect love you have for us all.
Help us all to show your love to those who care for us,
and to the people that we meet in our lives.  Amen.

We call to mind our sin, our failure to value the love of others and our failure to love as Christ has loved us.
Silence for reflection
Your love gives us life from the moment of conception. We fail to live as your children. 
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
You call us to do good.
We seek our own good. 
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
You hear us when we cry for help.
We ignore the cries of others. 
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn of Praise: CH712 “Tell out, my soul”
Listen to and sing along with this hymn at

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord:
unnumbered blessings, give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name:
make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy name, the Lord, the Mighty One.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might:
powers and dominions lay their glory by;
proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word:
firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children’s children and for evermore.
Timothy Dudley–Smith (b. 1926) based on the Canticle ‘Magnificat’ (Luke 1: 46–55)

God of compassion, whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary, shared the life of a home in Nazareth, and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself: Strengthen us in our daily living that in joy and in sorrow we may know the power of your presence to bind together and to heal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ministry of the Word

The First Reading: 1 Samuel 1: 20–28

So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him.’
When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfil his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, ‘After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.’
‘Do what seems best to you,’ her husband Elkanah told her. ‘Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.’ So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three–year–old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, ‘Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he shall be given over to the Lord.’ And he worshipped the Lord there.

The Psalm:  Psalm 127: 1–4
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,• those who build it labour in vain.
2 Unless the Lord keeps the city,• the guard keeps watch in vain.
3 It is in vain that you hasten to rise up early go so late to rest, eating the bread of toil,• for he gives his beloved sleep. 4 Children are a heritage from the Lord• and the fruit of the womb is his gift.


The Second Reading: Colossians 3: 12–17
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

HymnCH517 “Brother, sister, let me serve you”
Listen to and sing along with this hymn at

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant, too.
We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ–light for you
in the night–time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.
Richard Gillard (b. 1953)

The Gospel: John 19: 25–27Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.


Greetings again from St. Finian’s Church of  Ireland in Newcastle Co. Dublin. It is by far the smallest of the churches in this parish which also includes Christ Church Celbridge and Straffan Church, but it is also the most ancient dating to about 1400 with the adjoining tower dating to about 1200. There were previous buildings on this site dating back to early Christian times and there is a granite cross in the graveyard which dates back to the 7th century and so the church could quite reasonably be referred to as the Mother Church of our parish.

How appropriate then on this Mothering Sunday that we as a parish focus on this place for our shared worship in these unsettling times that we find ourselves in.
The origins of this Sunday are in the 16th century when people annually returned to their mother church for a service in either the church where they were baptized, or the local parish church, or the nearest cathedral. In time Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that entire families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented from doing so by conflicting working hours.

Children and young people who were "in service" (as household servants) were given a day off on that day so they could visit their families and mother church. The children often picked wildflowers along the way either to place in the church or to give to their mothers. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.

And so it is a day to be together with loved ones and to return to our roots but at the moment that is not possible for a lot of people and today is quite poignant for many.
Not just those who may have lost their mothers in recent time but also those who have to be separate from their mothers and grandmothers and indeed fathers and grandfathers in order to protect those whom they love from the Coronavirus.

I spoke to a man this weekend, a grandfather who told me how he now meets his son in a supermarket carpark to collect the shopping that his son had done for him  - they keep their distance from one another and his grandchildren wave out of the son’s car at their grandfather and he waves back and wonders how long it will be before he can hold them and hug them again.
It is ironic that on this Mothering Sunday the best thing we can do for our loved ones is to distance ourselves from them and to stay away from church.
But thankfully we do live in a digital age and we are finding new ways to be present to each other and to be Church even when we cannot share the same physical space. I can honestly say that I have experienced a level of fellowship, friendship and altruism in the past week greater than I have ever experienced before, either in church or in the wider community.

The readings chosen for today reflect the values of mothering and motherhood – In the lesson from 1st Samuel we see the sacrificial love of Hannah in presenting her son Samuel to the Lord.  There are many people making sacrifices today for not only their loved ones but also total strangers – there are people on the front line in fighting this virus who themselves are in the at risk category and yet they keep on giving of themselves, and many as we see in Italy and elsewhere have paid the ultimate price.
In the Epistle from Colossians 3 we hear of the attributes required of God’s chosen people – compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. 

I have seen those attributes in spades since this crisis began – it reassures me of the basic goodness of humanity reflected in the countless offers from within our community to reach out to our more vulnerable members and protect them by running errands and delivering groceries and medication etc as required. Some offered to write to those who are alone, or children to send their pictures and drawings or to give them a phone call to let them know that they are not forgotten.
There is a real sense of that body of Christ referred to in the epistle – as members of the one body you were called to peace and so many people are helping to bring peace to troubled hearts.
And the Gospel – that poignant passage at the foot of the Cross where Jesus declares to his mother and the beloved disciple “Woman – here is your son, and to the disciple, Here is your mother” and we are told that from that time on the disciple took her into his home.
There is a lot of this adoptive mothering going on at the moment where as Church and community we are reaching out to one another with the values that are traditionally associated with mothering and they are not unique to the female sex.
Compassion, kindness and generosity are in abundance as we rediscover a truth that has always been and that is that we are all of us (not just the over 70s or those with medical conditions ) we are all of us vulnerable human beings who rely on and need each other and we are all loved by a God who as Matthew 23 v37 states: How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings
This time will pass as other times of trial that this building has witnessed have passed, wars, famines, plagues and disasters and it is still here and the people of God are still here – Why? Because of Love – The love that God has for us and the love that we are showing towards one another at this difficult time. We are the Body of Christ and united with Christ we need not be afraid. He will still the storm and he like a mother will cherish every one of us as if we were the only one. Amen

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Hymn of Faith: Thanks & Praise 52 He’s got the whole world in his hands”(adapted)
Listen to and sing along with this hymn at
He’s got the whole world in his hands,
he’s got the whole wide world in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got you and me, brother, in his hands,
he’s got you and me, sister, in his hands,
he’s got you and me, mother, in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got you and me, mother, in his hands,
he’s got you and me, father, in his hands,
he’s got you and me, mother, in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got the little tiny babies in his hands,
he’s got the little tiny babies in his hands,
he’s got the little tiny babies in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands.

We thank God for giving us others to share in our lives:
For parents, and the love which brought us to birth:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For mothers who have cherished and nurtured us:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For fathers who have loved and supported us,
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For brothers and sisters with whom we have shared our home:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For children and their parents:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For relatives and friends, who have been with us
in our hopes and joys and times of sadness:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For all who first spoke to us of Jesus, and have drawn us
into the family of our Father in heaven:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
Help us to live as those who belong to one another,
and to you, our Father, now and always.

Almighty and All–loving God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we pray to you through Christ the Healer
for those who suffer from the Coronavirus Covid–19
in Ireland and across the world.
We pray for all who reach out to those who mourn the loss
of each and every person who has died as a result of contracting the disease.
Give wisdom to policymakers,
skill to researchers,
comfort to everyone in distress
and a sense of calm to us all in these days of uncertainty and distress.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord
who showed compassion to the outcast,
acceptance to the rejected
and love to those to whom no love is shown. Amen.

Lighten our darkness, O Lord, we pray,
And in your great mercy defend us
From all perils and dangers
For the love of your only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

We pray the prayer Jesus taught us, saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
for ever and ever.

Closing Hymn: CH570 “Give me oil in my lamp” (vs.1, 2 and 4)
Listen to and sing along with this hymn at

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
give me oil in my lamp, I pray;
give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
keep me burning ‘til the break of day.
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
sing hosanna to the King of kings!
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King!
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising,
give me joy in my heart, I pray;
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising,
keep me praising till the break of day.
Give me love in my heart, keep me serving,
give me love in my heart, I pray;
give me love in my heart, keep me serving,
keep me serving ‘til the break of day.
Traditional v. 1 based on Matthew 25: 8

Let us rejoice that we are precious to God.
May his blessing touch our families
and all who are precious to us.
May we, as the family of God,
shine as precious stones
reflecting his love to the world. Amen.


Thursday 19 March 2020

Night Prayer from the Rectory 19th March 2020


Evening Prayer – 19th March 2020


A candle is lit
Christ your light shall rise in the darkness
and your healing shall spring up like the dawn.

The light and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all
And also with you.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
Who is worthy of all thanksgiving and praise.

Blessèd are you, Sovereign God,
Shepherd of your pilgrim people:
their pillar of cloud by day,
their pillar of fire by night.
Stir up in us the fire of your love
which shone forth from your Son
enthroned on the cross,
that we may be cleansed of all our sins
and be made ready to come into your presence,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Blessèd be God for ever!

O joyful light,
   from the pure glory of the eternal heavenly Father,*
O holy, blessèd Jesus Christ.
As we come to the setting of the sun*
and see the evening light,
We give thanks and praise to the Father and to the Son*
and to the Holy Spirit of God.
Worthy are you at all times
   to be sung with holy voices,
   O Son of God, O Giver of life,*
and to be glorified through all creation.

Let my prayer rise before you as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

O Lord, I call to you; come to me quickly;
hear my voice when I cry to you.
Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord,
and guard the door of my lips.

Let my prayer rise before you as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Let not my heart incline to any evil thing;
let me not be occupied in wickedness.
But my eyes are turned to you, Lord God,
in you I take refuge;
do not leave me defenceless.

Let my prayer rise before you as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

As our evening prayer rises before you, O God,
so may your mercy come down upon us
   to cleanse our hearts
and set us free to sing your praise,
now and for ever. Amen.


Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
   whom then shall I fear?*
the Lord is the strength of my life;
   of whom then shall I be afraid?
When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh,*
it was they, my foes and my adversaries,
   who stumbled and fell.
Though an army should encamp against me,*
yet my heart shall not be afraid;
And though war should rise up against me,*
yet will I put my trust in him.
One thing have I asked of the Lord;
   one thing I seek;*
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
   all the days of my life;
To behold the fair beauty of the Lord*
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
   he shall keep me safe in his shelter;*
he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling
   and set me high upon a rock.
Glory . . .




Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lighten our darkness,
Lord, we pray,
and in your great mercy
defend us from all perils
   and dangers of this night;
for the love of your only Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ . . . 3



The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.

May the life-giving cross be the source of all our joy and peace.
And the blessing of God Almighty, Father Son & Holy Spirit be with you and all those who you love and who love you, this night and for evermore. Amen.

Night Prayer from the Rectory 18th March 2020

Click here to view

Wednesday 18 March 2020

New Parish WhatsApp group

There is a new and very active Parish WhatsApp Group which is keeping parishioners in touch with one another and offering support to anyone who needs some practical help - The rector is also posting some worship resources on the site and hopes to have an audio/video act of communal worship linked there next Sunday. If you wish to join the group contact Rev Stephen on 0872328172 or

Prayer in difficult times

Prayers about the outbreak
(Thanks to St Finnian's Parish in Belfast for these prayers which can be used for personal prayer time)

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love, for your name’s sake. Amen.

God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation. In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness, be their light; through him who suffered alone on the cross, but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those who are ill
Merciful God, we entrust to your tender care those who are ill or in pain, knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe. Comfort and heal them, and restore them to health and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For hospital staff and medical researchers
Gracious God,
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For one who is ill or isolated
O God,
help me to trust you,
help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me
from your love
revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.

For the Christian community
We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.
Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference

Let us pray to God,
who alone makes us dwell in safety:
For all who are affected by coronavirus,
through illness or isolation or anxiety,
that they may find relief and recovery:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For those who are guiding our nation at this time,
and shaping national policies,
that they may make wise decisions:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For doctors, nurses and medical researchers,
that through their skill and insights
many will be restored to health:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.
For the vulnerable and the fearful,
for the gravely ill and the dying,
that they may know your comfort and peace:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us pray to the Lord,
who is our refuge and stronghold.
For the health and well-being of our nation,
that all who are fearful and anxious
may be at peace and free from worry:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For the isolated and housebound, that we may be alert to their needs, and care for them in their vulnerability:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For our homes and families, our schools and young people, and all in any kind of need or distress:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For a blessing on our local community, that our neighbourhoods may be places of trust and friendship, where all are known and cared for:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Saturday 14 March 2020

An open letter to fellow clergy and bishops of the Church of Ireland and other religious leaders of all faiths.

Dear friends – I write to you as the rector of a County Kildare parish within the commuter belt of Dublin city and the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough. This weekend I took the difficult decision to close all of our churches until the end of the month or indeed until advised that the current Coronavirus threat has passed. This was not an easy decision and not one I took lightly but I did it because I was conscious that ANY public gathering increases the risk of spreading infection within the community.
It is not just those who might attend church that are vulnerable but everyone they subsequently interface with which will inevitably include the aged and the immuno-compromised. I like many in the Church of Ireland am rector of a parish where the age profile is very high and so a significant number of my parishioners are in a category (80+) where if they catch the virus, one in eight of them will likely die! Please dwell on that for a moment! These are people who have served our church all their lives and have sustained it through thick and thin and now we are wilfully risking them these precious twilight years!   This is not a chance I am willing to take! In addition to this I have a number of recovering cancer patients, transplant patients and those with respiratory issues who are extremely vulnerable to this virus.
And I am also conscious that it is not just my parishioners that I have a responsibility towards but also those in the wider community – My church is part of that community and if we are negligent we risk not only our own health but also those who we interface with in our daily lives and we have an equal duty of care to them.
I am aware that the Government in neither jurisdictions has demanded that we close and so those churches that remain open are not in breach of the law but that does not mean that there is no moral imperative to do otherwise!
Is our piety really more important than the health of the most vulnerable members of society?
Do we believe in a God who demands that we sacrifice the vulnerable in order to maintain public worship during a temporary crisis such as this?
If we can say hand on heart that continuing public worship will not increase the risk of infection then all is well but the reality is we cannot and all is not well! This is a chance for those of us of religious faith (no matter what creed or denomination) to stand up for the vulnerable – It’s in the Gospels as far as I recollect…….

NB: I am aware that the bishops of Cashel, Ferns & Ossary & Limerick & Killaloe Dioceses  have advised church closures and welcome the wisdom of their respective decisions