So far, the month of October has been a short Autumn preceded by a good summer. The winter activities at Donaghadee Parish are now in full swing both for adults and young people. It is great to see the parish halls so well used with such a variety of groups and organisations.
In this edition of In Focus I want to highlight a few points that are on my mind:
Firstly, we approach Remembrance Sunday this year with the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War foremost on our minds. I am constantly reminded through the service at our town’s War Memorial and the Act of Remembrance in Church, that the Great War commemorations are living history. Families still have a strong affinity to those who made the supreme sacrifice in that terrible conflict. I hear many stories in my ministry of families visiting Commonwealth War Cemeteries on the Continent and being moved by the neat and well tended graves, as they pay their respects to a fallen relative.
This year I will not be at our town service but rather on my Annual Camp with my Reserve Unit – 253 Medical Regiment – based at Sunnyside Street, Belfast. It is unfortunate that this is during November but as a reservist I am required to give of my time in this annual two week period of training. It will be a poignant Act of Remembrance that I will conduct whilst away on exercise, given the current unrest in many parts of the world. Please remember me in your prayers and also please pray for the many members of our nation’s military forces on land, sea and air who are serving in dangerous places.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn . At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
Secondly, as a Parish we are well into our Bible study series – The Essential Jesus Challenge – one hundred days of Bible study! I hope all who took up the challenge are enjoying the studies and being renewed in their faith. I have tied the Sunday sermons to themes from the studies and have been greatly encouraged by the congregational response!
Finally, as I write to you, we are in the middle of major road works in our town. Parking is difficult and I’m sure many of the shop owners are not happy at the upset. I was intrigued by the
description of the work.
I quote to you from the Ards Borough Council web page:
“In October 2013, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland, announced a £2.4 million public realm scheme for Donaghadee. The scheme, which is being match-funded and delivered by the Council, is intended to reinvigorate Donaghadee, transforming the visual appearance of the town centre, enhancing its appeal as a place to visit and shop, generating a positive economic impact.”
This reminded me of the work completed to our beautiful church building – disruption, change and
finally enhancement! Renewal by God’s Holy Spirit can be disruptive when He seeks to “reinvigorate” the Church – the body of Christ – then it can be difficult. On the road sign, I like the use of the word “Realm”. It speaks to me of our place in the nation ruled over by our Queen and that we are building something that transcends ourselves – though we are a part of it. We, in Donaghadee, in all our activities, worship and outreach – are building the Kingdom of God; His Realm in the hearts and minds of the people of this Parish. If you have never attended church, or for any reason your attendance has dropped off, I invite you to join us Sunday by Sunday to come quite literally “by His royal command” – into the presence of Almighty God. None of us would EVER turn down an invite to visit the Queen in London, yet we so quickly reject the gracious invitation of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to come. Psalm 95 reminds us: “Come let us sing to the Lord our God. Let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation… today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”.
Your friend and Rector
IAN R GAMBLE