Page 7 - Church Review JUNE 2020 [IM)
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Christ Church Cathedral
Dean: The Very Rev Dermot P M Dunne (6778099/
Dean’s Vicar: The Revd Abigail Sines (6778099/
Diocesan Reader: Mr Bernard V A P J Woods Director of Music: Mr Tom Little
(6778099/ Dean’s Verger: Mr Fred Deane
The Dean’s Vicar writes:
Have you ever had a ‘lightbulb’ moment? That moment when you suddenly realise the solution to a problem, or you get a new perspective or understanding on something you’ve been struggling with. In reflecting on one our readings from the Acts of the Apostles a few weeks ago, I had an image of the apostle Paul experiencing his own ‘lightbulb’ moment.
Imagine the scene: Paul, coming as he did from a devout Jewish background, found himself in Athens surrounded by pagan idols. Chapter 17 records that Paul was ‘deeply distressed’ at the sight. Paul went about his ministry in his usual fashion, arguing in the synagogue with Jews, and speaking in the market-place to whoever would pause to listen. It was at this point that Paul encountered some of the Athenian philosophers who listened, it seems, with a mixture of curiosity and contempt. They brought him along to the Areopagus, Athens’ chief legislative and judicial council, the body that evaluated itinerant teachers and preachers of foreign gods. I wonder what was going through Paul’s mind as he made his way to the Areopagus. Was he wrestling internally at what to say and how to react to his surroundings? What was the process he was undergoing as in his mind he sifted through his impressions of Athens and the conversations he had already had in the synagogue and marketplace? What was the prayer he prayed, as he prepared to speak his message to these important city officials? I don’t know how long the walk was, I don’t know if he chatted with the philosophers along the way, or if he had much time to compose his thoughts, but as I imagine the scene, there was a lightbulb moment for Paul, a flash of inspiration that shaped how he would speak to the Athenian intelligentsia. Paul had to move from his reaction of being deeply distressed at the sight of so many idols, to engaging with the philosophers in a way that would make sense of them and allow them to hear his message. So how does he present his message to the philosophers?
‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.”
Paul has noticed his surroundings. He has taken time to notice and what and how the Athenians worship, even though to him what these people were worshiping as gods were no gods at all. He didn’t begin speaking to them as he would have entered an argument with a rabbi in a synagogue. He has begun by sharing his message in a way that is relevant to his context. Maybe recalling the sight of that altar ‘to an unknown god’ was the lightbulb moment, the flash of inspiration, the work of the Holy Spirit in Paul as the bearer of the message, and creating space for the hearers to take in and respond to the message. Paul even takes the liberty of quoting two lines of Greek poetry: “In him we live and move and have our being”; and “For we too are his offspring,” directing their meaning away from the Greek pantheon and instead pointing towards the one true God as the source and sustainer of life. Paul assures his audience that God is indeed not far from each one of us.
I find the thought of Paul’s lightbulb moment—his transition from simply being deeply distressed at the city full of idols to creatively engaging with the Athenians about their altar to an unknown God to be quite encouraging. A lot of people can find it difficult to speak about faith. Often it seems there is little room within contemporary society to engage around faith. It’s something that’s viewed as strictly
personal a bit antiquated or
out of fashion. Not something
that relates to the world today.
That is, until the contemporary
worldview and lifestyle gets a
shock, something so big it can’t
be ignored. It must be dealt with
and lived through. We are living
in the midst of a shock right now,
our lifestyle radically changed,
every aspect of society affected
by the coronavirus pandemic. In
the midst of this global trauma,
we note an increase of people
engaging online around faith and
spirituality. In the UK, there was
a recent survey which reported
that 1 in 4 adults had viewed a church service online since the lockdown measures were put in place, one-fifth of whom had never attended a church service before. In Ireland, companies that provide webstreaming services for churches have reported a tenfold increase in online traffic to view services. Not that I view statistics about online services as a definitive measure of faith, but the statistics are a snapshot of the moment we are in, and what an appropriate moment for each of us to be encouraged in our faith, and to renew our sense of openness to the work of the Holy Spirit as to how we can meaningfully share the Good News of God’s love with others. That may be online through our existing parish and congregation structures, through individual relationships, or in pioneering new ways of engaging creatively. All ‘lightbulb’ moments welcome in these challenging times! As we navigate whatever new normal will be, may we walk in confidence that we are in the hands of a loving creator, who has allotted the times and boundaries of our lives, that each may search for God and find him, and indeed he is not far from each one of us.
World Refugee Week: ‘Imagine’
This year World Refugee Week takes place 15-21 June. The theme, ‘Imagine’, seems more relevant than ever. As lives around the world have been upended by the global coronavirus crisis, we need renewed imagination and creative problem solving to help bring us into a more sustainable and balanced future, once that doesn’t yet exist--one for which the path will only be made by walking it one courageous step at a time. Though public health restrictions will prevent us from gathering during World Refugee Week this year, Christ Church Cathedral is partnering with the Migrant Artists’ Community and Welcome Café Dublin to create a virtual exhibition of diverse voices around the theme ‘Imagine’, a fusion of artworks installed on-site and those shared remotely. The virtual exhibition will include a variety of media and recordings of the artists’ own reflections on their work and processes. Video instalments of the digital ‘Imagine’ pilgrimage or journey will be shared each day during World Refugee Week via our Facebook and website.
Send Encouraging Words
Global pandemic mandated the closure of churches for gatherings of public worship. However this did not stop Holy Week happening, it simply meant that it happened in a different way. This year, as we were forced to focus on sharing in prayer remotely, the Dean prepared a fresh and timely series of reflections for Good Friday. These reflections touch on themes of forgiveness, healing, suffering and grace. You are invited to order your own copy of these reflections, or to have them sent to friends or loved ones, to encourage them in prayer at this difficult time. Visit our website for details: https://
Preachers and Canons-in-Residence
7 June
14 June 21 June 28 June
Trinity Sunday Patronal Festival: Guest Preacher from Christian Aid
The Revd Canon Andrew McCroskery The Revd Canon Kevin Brew
The Revd Canon Roly Heaney
Services via Webcam
Monday – Friday Sunday
Morning Prayer Evening Prayer Eucharist
10.00 17.00 11.00
Poppies in bloom in the grounds

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