On the Feast of the Epiphany, 6th January, during the online Service broadcast using webcam, the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, instituted the Reverend Meurig Williams to the incumbency of Mallow Union of Parishes.
Accompanied only by the Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, and the Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, with no congregation present, Bishop Colton said that one of the aspects of the pandemic we have had to get used to is things not going to plan.
Bishop Colton said:
This Epiphany Eucharist tonight is not as we might have wished. I should be in Saint James’ Church in Mallow. We should be there in great numbers, joined by clergy and lay people from all over the Diocese and local community, to welcome your new Rector, the Reverend Meurig Williams. Since his arrival on 18th December he might ordinarily have expected to be able to go out and about in the community but instead he has been confined to his home: isolated and in quarantine. In the weeks ahead you should be meeting him on Sundays at church and in your homes as he makes his way around the parish. But you, and he, will have to be patient and understanding, because the pandemic allows for none of this. ‘Things do not go to plan.’
And we see things not going to plan either in tonight’s Gospel – on this Feast of the Epiphany: “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” (Matthew 2.12)
Meurig Williams was born in Bangor, North Wales, where his father was a Baptist minister and grew up in a Welsh-speaking home. After studying modern languages at the University of Aberystwyth, including a year in Bordeaux, he was a teacher in a secondary school near Cardiff for four years.
He returned to the University of Wales to study theology and trained for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge. He was ordained in Bangor Cathedral in 1992 and served a curacy in the port town of Holyhead.
He subsequently served as Incumbent of Pwllheli, a market town in rural North-West Wales; and then became an Incumbent in Cardiff. He returned to Bangor as Archdeacon in 2005. In 2011 he moved to become Commissary to the Bishop in Europe – a role which he combined with being Archdeacon of North-West Europe (serving Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) before his current appointment as Archdeacon of France in 2016. There he had oversight of 83 congregations across France, many of which serve scattered, rural populations.
Meurig has been involved in fostering strong ecumenical relationships throughout his ministry, and is currently involved in discussions between the Church of England and the French Protestant churches. He also has good working relationships with the Roman Catholic Church in France and, as a fluent French-speaking Anglican, has contributed to various ecumenical conferences, including at the Catholic Institute in Paris.
Following the passing of the Irish Church Act 1869, and after 18 months of intense preparation, debate, sometimes controversy, and legislating by the General Convention of the Church of Ireland in 1870, the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland occurred on 1st January 1871: 150 years ago.
In February 2020, long before people had to stop gathering because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, students from Ashton School, Cork, Bandon Grammar School, and Midleton College were enlisted by the their school chaplains – Drew Ruttle, the Reverend Anne Skuse, and Canon Andrew Orr – to re-enact the fifth day of the General Convention held on 19th February 1870 when the Preamble and Declaration were read for the first time.
Dr Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, came up with the idea of the re-enactment as a Cork event (even though, of course, it happened in Dublin) to mark the 150th Anniversary of Disestablishment, because it was his predecessor, Bishop John Gregg, who proposed the motion and read aloud the proposed Preamble and Declaration for the first time.
Here is a video clip of the re-enactment:
Videographer: John Berry
Photographer: Jim Coughlan
Video editing and captions: Drew Ruttle, Chaplain of Ashton School.
A full report from earlier in the year of the re-enactment and photographs are HERE and HERE
The full text of the Preamble and Declaration may be read here:
Templebreedy Group of Parishes had a wonderful Christingle (Christ-Light) Service on ZOOM recently. Everyone received instructions of what they needed for the service, which until now was annually held in the Church.
It was a celebration of ‘God: The Light of the World.’
Christmas is a time for traditions, and the Christingle is a tradition with a long history. It has its origins in the Moravian Church dating back to 1747.
It is a physical three-dimensional symbol of God as the Light of the World, and it expresses what he has given for us and to us. As a beautiful reminder of God’s love.
The modern Christingle consists of:
• The orange – represents the world
• The red ribbon – indicates the love and blood of Christ
• The four skewers – represent the four seasons, and they are arranged in a way that from above they show a cross representing the cross Jesus died on.
• The dried fruits and sweets – on the four skewers fruits and sweets, are mounted representing God’s good gifts: the fruits of the earth and the fruits of the spirit.
• The lit candle – symbolises Jesus, the light of the world
• Aluminium Foil – around the base of the candle, which represents the world reflecting Christ’s light.
Check out these amazing Christingles made by the children at home, during our liturgy!
Sermon preached by the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton,
Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross in Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork
onChristmas Day 2020
One of the devices used by the preacher is to start by giving examples, or a story of some aspect of life or other, in order to draw people in to an experience that they might themselves recognise or have heard of. No such device or examples are needed this Christmas. We reach this festival in 2020 with our own unique and very personal experiences of this year, and we’ve our shared and communal insights into it all.
No examples are needed; we ourselves are the evidence that bubbles up emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually as we come today to celebrate the birth of ‘the Word made flesh.’ This has been a year of heroism, stoicism, collaboration, voluntary effort and human generosity that has gone further than even the Good Samaritan might have gone. All of these have been, as if I need to say it in response to a year of separation, deprivation, anxiety, exhaustion, wounds, vulnerability, loss and uncertainty. We bring all these – good and bad – to our worship today.
Uncertainty is the word I want to latch onto in this short message, for short it has to be. The pandemic is even clipping the wings and trimming the sails of the preacher this year. From the outset there has been uncertainty, and there still is. Will I get it? How do you get it? Is it safe, or wise, or prudent? What should I do? Way back in March the questions, now answered, we think, or so we think for now, were should I wear a mask? Is it safe to sing or not?
It has been a journey through uncertainty: will it open? When will we be back to normal? Will the schools open or stay open? What is essential and non-essential? How will I get my medicine, or even my food?
Or more profoundly when will I see my children? Will I see you again? Will I survive?
Even the advertising people latched onto the uncertainty. In an ad for one supermarket chain the persistent question has been – “is he coming? Is he definitely coming?’
So we come this year, in the bleakness of this mid-winter – the words of Chrisitina Rosetti’s poem – and I, for one, don’t need to agonise over the question ‘What can I give him…?’ ‘I give my heart’ , of course, yes, but not in a twee sort of way. I want to dump, yes dump is the word, everything that is pent up in me of this year at the feet of the manger because there is nowhere else to go or to turn. And that is ok. For in this manger is the ‘Word made flesh’ Here is God who shares our experience and knows what it is like. This baby is Emmanuel, God is with us. He is the light shining in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome the light.
And as I dump all this at his feet at this altar today, I look around the scene and I see that everyone there in that original manger scene, in that familiar Christmas story, has done the same thing in response to their own uncertainty. They have come, and they have landed their uncertainty at this very place.
Joseph: ‘My fiancée is pregnant. I’m not the father. What do I do now?”
Mary: ‘The strange messenger says not to be afraid, but I’m terrified. What is this all about? I hadn’t planned on having a child. I’m planning my wedding day. What will Joseph think? What will everyone else think?”
The shepherds: getting on with their nighttime work up in the hills: ‘What’s that hubbub? Is it the sound of singing? What’s this talk about good news, and a saviour? Sounds too good to be true? Off the wall really. We’d better go and check it all out ourselves.
The magi: something strange is happening in the night sky. ‘We’ve studied these things. We know about the stars, but this is unfamiliar. I suppose we should take a risk of going into the unknown and to see where it leads us.’
Even the powers that be – King Herod – are faced with uncertainty: ‘What’s this rumour about a new King?’. Of all those in the story, Herod alone does not go to see, to check it out or to kneel and worship. And, as a result, more uncertainty ensues – for the newborn,for Mary and Joseph. It’s not safe for them to go back to their home place in Nazareth. They find themselves as refugees, escaping to the safety of Egypt; the irony of that – the place of slavery for their people all thsoe centuries before, becomes the place of sanctuary.
Yes, friends, this has been a year of many challenges, sadnesses and griefs, but there has also been stoicism, determination, valiant effort, and the work of many Good Samaritans.
I seldom end a sermon by quoting a hymn, but, exceptionally, in an unprecedented year for us here in our time, I venture two verses from one of my favourites – and it is inspired by a verse from today’s Psalm: ‘O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;…’ WHich is indeed the first line of the hymn – an Epiphany hymn, appropriate, therefore, to these 12 days – written by the Irish clergyman Dr John Samuel Bewley Monsell, a person greatly influenced by the Oxford Movement. He and his wife, Anne, lost their eldest son in a shipwreck while he was on the way to fight in the Crimea in 1855. The boy was 18. Their eldest daughter died when she was 28. In spite of all that, perhaps because of it, who knows, he wrote 300 hymns. Monsell himself later had an accident – he fell off a stone to be used for work on the roof of his church; he injured himself and died from infection in the wound.
The hymn refers to our ‘burden of carefulness’ – carefulness – in the sense then of ‘heavy care, worries and anxieties.’
What he wrote seems like an appropriate invitation as we come to meet the Lord in Word and Sacrament this Christmas – at the end of 2020 and as we journey towards the uncertainty of 2021:
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
With gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness,
Kneel and adore him, the Lord is his name!
Low at his feet lay thy burden of carefulness,
High on his heart he will bear it for thee,
Comfort thy sorrows, and answer thy prayerfulness,
Bishop Paul Colton has recorded a short Christmas greeting to reach the people of Cork, Cloyne and Ross ‘because’ he says ‘meeting people in 2020 all over the Diocese has been nigh impossible. ‘I have really missed all that!’ he said. His greeting is called ‘The GToy Trumpet.’
So much of our human activity and organisation is about gathering together as people and the restrictions imposed by the CoronaVirus Pandemic have been necessary, but deeply frustrating, throughout 2020.
The Church is no exception. Bishop Colton says that one of the things he has missed most during the pandemic is the Church’s gatherings, formal and informal:
I have really, really missed being out and about in Cork City and County and all over the Diocese in 2020. The Coronavirus Pandemic has clipped the wings of our travel and our ability to meet. So many gatherings have been affected; life events such as funerals, weddings, baptisms, ordinations, and not least meeting the young people and their families for Confirmation.
The measures designed to keep us safe and to protect each other have been necessary and vital, but that doesn’t mean that I, and I am certain, most of us have not missed being together.
Our travel to be together has been limited by the regulations on gatherings and on travel and then, in my own case, at the very time things opened up a bit, I had an accident followed by surgery which confined me to barracks.
I happily agreed, therefore, to a request from the clergy of the Diocese to put together a very short Christmas video greeting to be played at Church Services, both in person and online, on Christmas Day.
I called it ‘The Toy Trumpet’.
To view ‘The Toy Trumpet’ – a short Christmas Greeting from