I was in Kinsale on Sunday evening for the St Multose Harvest service. In part, the gift of the gathering was handing over a cheque.
A group in Kinsale drawn from the community and representing numerous churches took it upon themselves to settle a Syrian family in the Kinsale area. This family (details still unknown to us) is escaping conflict in their war-torn country. The 'Road to Kinsale' initiative has cleared the way, fulfilled all the legislative requirements, and raised all the necessary funds to make this a reality. Part of that fundraising was through the churches, and it was my honour to hand a cheque over to a committee representative.
At that moment, it felt like we were, together, being the very hands and feet and heart of Jesus. Beyond (maybe above, behind, and between) all our singing and worship is the real need of the world. We know this causes a monumental ache in the heart of God. So much so, that worship without active witness has drawn God's ire. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God said: 'You say "Peace! Peace!" where there is no Peace' (Jeremiah 6: 14).
I can't recall the number of times I've been caught in the crossfire of a church dispute, only to be disquieted by the distance between God's dream of a mended universe and our petty tiffs.
For all we might be getting wrong, I do believe at this moment, making way for this family pleases the heart of God. After all, we worship a Saviour who himself held refugee status.
In receiving the cheque, one of the key players in the 'Road to Kinsale' initiative shared an encounter experienced by his son. His son, a teacher, chose as part of a mini-treat for his class, to show one of David Attenborough's brilliant documentaries on the natural world called Blue Planet.
In his class sat one boy, a refugee too, who had arrived safely to these shores from a burning North Africa. As they watched a fascinating account of the deep blue sea, this boy descended into a traumatized state. What was, for the other children, a seascape of beauty, power, and wonder, was for this boy a reminder of being neck-deep in water, the threat of sharks ever real, and memories of his young life absolutely on the line.
"Let us be kind to one another," wrote Rev John Watson, "for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
Seven Questions for this week
Events page advertising this Friday's Jazz Vespers service in Cork city
Sermon for the week by Rev Dr Neville Wilson