|Jon Kennedy’s ‘Postcards from
his sojourn in Northern Ireland‘
Too much to recapitulate
JONAL ENTRY 1308 | OCTOBER 2 2013
The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
— from Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy, chapter 1
The Lord said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
Diary: General catch-up
It’s been three weeks since I last wrote, and too much has happened to even try to recap it all. I can’t believe I’ve become a big user of Facebook, but it has come to pass. It takes far less time to update my status there and see what a wide assortment of friends and family members (including my two little grand-daughters) have been up to without having to sit down to write. I’d rather be writing—that’s my bumper sticker—but usually that’s not practical and often I’m too distracted to collect my thoughts.
So here are the main highlights of my past three weeks. I began, three weeks ago yesterday, volunteering for one four-hour shift per week at the Dock Cafe. Though I was already too busy, it seemed I wasn’t doing enough pure ministering, and this—washing dishes, cleaning tables, and serving customers, is about as focused as you can get in actually ministering to people (short of nursing or surgery, neither of which I’ve shown any aptitude for). The Dock Cafe is a cross-community (Protestant-Catholic and Orthodox) ministry, which is the type of work I came here to do. Most of its clients this time of year and on the day and time I’m working (roughly 11-3 Tuesdays) are students in the nearby community college, Belfast Met, so I’m at least saying hello and “how can I help you” to more students in these four hours than I did in a typical week in my campus ministry years at Stanford. Literally, hundreds of them spend time in the cafe through those hours. I’ve described some aspects of the Dock Cafe in these blogs so I won’t revisit the generalitites, but to add that its food and beverages are provided without price; partakers are asked to put a contribution to help out in the “honesty box,” but no one tracks any individual. There are some “pay what you can” cafes in the United States (mostly as ministry to homeless and otherwise needy) but this may be the only one in Ireland or the UK.
On Sunday, September 22, I represented the Orthodox Church here at Queen’s University, the major campus in Belfast. It was the beginning of term, and the Uni was welcoming parents who were dropping off their freshmen or, as they call them here, “freshers.” I had invitations to visit St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, and though few showed interest, it was great to fellowship with campus ministers from the Church of Ireland, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Congregational traditions.
Since my schedule has become more crowded with the addition of the shift at the Cafe, I’ve decided to set aside Wednesdays and Fridays as my travel days, and I’ve had three awesome trips since my report on Coleraine last time. On September 20 I went to Downpatrick, which is only a few miles (around 20, I believe) southeast of Belfast, in the same direction but not the same highway as New Castle. It is the site where St. Patrick is believed to have entered Ireland in the Fourth Century and his remains along with those of Ireland’s two other patron saints, Colm (Columba) and Bridgit, are believed to be interred in the cathedral grounds there. I had been there with my sons years ago, so had not made it a top priority after arriving this time. But being able to explore without having to hurry to see other sites the same day was wonderful. See the photos and notes on my Downpatrick day on my Google+ page.
Last Wednesday I made my second trip to Dublin since moving here last March, and it was also very fruitful, as the pictures and notes on Google+ attest. And since there were schedule conflicts last Friday, I didn’t travel that day but opted to go to Bangor on Saturday, and that was, as they say here, brilliant. Literally; it was one of the best days in terms of weather in my six and a half months here. And though I had been in Bangor once on an earlier visit, I hadn’t really seen the town and was dazzled by its beauty as an ancient seaport. Again, there are several “albums” of pictures taken that day on Google+.
I’m now holding the fort alone at the Loom while Ward and Marda (my landlords/housemates) are on holiday for almost two weeks. Today is a travel day, but the mist is what most of the world calls rain and since I’m so behind on blogging, I’m here at the Cafe Wah doing my duty rather than gallivantin’.
Please leave comments. Finally, below are some of the best picture previews of my recent travels, if you haven’t been keeping up on Google+.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Downpatrick
Fall in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin
Bangor, Ireland, makes me think of Cape Cod, an idyllic seashore town with a harbor, a marina (above), restaurants with ocean views, and views of church steeples inland.
§ I have now uploaded over 2,000 photos and videos, mostly from my current visit to Northern Ireland, but also including several hundred photos and videos from my summer in Pennsylvania (2012), and some photos of the family, on my Flickr site. Most of these are now organized by sets. Click here for the Flicker site.
Feedback: You can comment on today’s topic on the page linked below
Homiletical thought: What a short and sweet presentation of the Gospel is Paul’s opening greeting to Timothy, that all are sinners and are saved only by God’s grace through the work of Jesus Christ. And how tragic that Jesus’ words from this passage from Luke is as true now as when He said it. Also worth some thought is Paul’s emphasis on the importance of being, and having, godly examples.
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Please pray for my mission to Northern Ireland. You can read my background overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.