Thursday, 3 December 2009

Jesus is coming, get ready!

I wrote a wee thing for a primary school assembly, and thought I'd share it with you...

To Adam and Eve, who rebel and must leave:
Jesus is coming, get ready!
Noah glimpses the rainbow and knows he is free:
Jesus is coming, get ready!
Abraham’s son, Isaac, a miracle, is born:
Jesus is coming, get ready!
God speaks through a bush and gives Moses the Law:
Jesus is coming, get ready!
To the people of Israel, made homeless by war:
Jesus is coming, get ready!
Hear the message of prophets through centuries soar:
Jesus is coming, get ready!
John the Baptist shouts it, loud for everyone:
Jesus is coming, get ready!
Mary’s filled with joy, for she’s going to have a Son!
Jesus is coming, get ready!
Every December we should pause and remember
Jesus is coming, get ready!
It’s the time of the year when we give a big cheer:
Jesus is coming, get ready!

Sing, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come”.
“Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


Here's a video door to be opened every day as we get ready for Christmas. The play button will show something different throughout Advent. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Olive Branch

Dear Princess,

Please accept my humble apologies for being a sarky git the other day. Your regular dose of wit and wisdom has become an enjoyable part of my life online, and I thank you for it.

Lots of love,

Minister Moo.

[Image courtesy of saavem]

Thursday, 22 October 2009


It appears I have been neglecting t'blog, which just won't do. I haven't stopped pondering, so why the slowdown in posting I hear you ask? Probably in the main it's due to Twitter - why bother you with a blog post of a few sentences when 140 characters will do the job? So if you're not already on the Twitter bandwagon you at least will know where some of my thoughts are going (you can see them on the right of this page if you're on the Random Moos website). If you happen to receive my posts through some sort of RSS reader you can also receive my Tweets that way: Ministermoo Feed.

Rather than promise a full recounting of tales of the Summer, and then never delivering (a la the Princess - sorry, that's not fair, she did tell us about Singapore eventually), here are a few notes on stuff I was thinking about...

Team On Mission

The fifth/sixth/whatever of September came round again, which meant it was another year since Andrew, Joanne, Nicky and myself stumbled into Team On Mission #6 - a year of mission, banter, comfort-zone stretching and fun. I can honestly say it was the most important year of my life, setting attitudes, disciplines, friendships and aspirations in motion. It is not always this way: after all, throwing four eighteen-year-olds with diverse backgrounds and personalities into the one house with a common goal is not an easy thing to pull off, but I think in the main it worked for us. I owe my understanding of the Methodist Church in Ireland largely to that year, especially the fact that even where a small church is struggling to survive there are faith-full people longing to see God bring restoration.

The 'travelling team' as it is now known has a difficult task to accomplish, a sort of 'hit and run' evangelism where even three months in one place allows for only the beginning of friendship, and many relationships cannot be sustained. Yet I wonder if it's more in line with the original idea of itinerancy, bringing one message to many people and places, adding something to the relationships and formation of faith of that community and then moving on. It concerns me that we will be in Dundrum, Newcastle and Downpatrick long enough to build warm relationships but too short to see transformation.


We were very glad to see a friend back from a six-month stint in Afghanistan with the Army, safe and well. It's also been good recently to hear of the experiences again of Chaplains in the Armed Forces. However, it has unsettled me somewhat to compare the media coverage of the deaths of our brave men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan with those of the non-combatant citizens of those countries. Our forces are doing a good job in quelling insurgency and attempting to bring some form of peace and order, yet hardly a day goes by without another 'Omagh'. I shudder to think of the damage that is being done to those communities every week, considering the damage done in ours over decades.

That'll do for now!

[Chinook image courtesy of clarke_nr]

Thursday, 18 June 2009

That's the Spirit!

We're a few weeks into the season of Pentecost but it was only a few days ago that I came across a live broadcast from the BBC that was shown on Pentecost Sunday. It came from Kingsgate Community Church in Peterborough, and was so good it even had Chris Moyles glowing about it :)

I was involved in an episode of Songs of Praise a few months back (by 'involved' I mean 'missed the rehearsal, slipped in near the back for the recording but was dragged to the front to fill an empty seat') and I think it's safe to say that by the time it was over most of us were well and truly knackered, and the fact that many of us still had smiles on our faces in the finished broadcast was a miracle of grace. The reason? One camera. One camera to take every single shot - the 'swooping down from the ceiling' shot, the 'gentle entrance past ivy-entwisted candlesticks' shot, the 'please don't laugh, please don't laugh, I know my face is filling 37-inch screens across the nation' shot, and the 'wide-angle, everybody's in it so it doesn't matter quite so much if I get the words wrong' shot. And a few more. We sang the same three songs over and over for five hours.

So it didn't come as much of a surprise to me that, despite the huge amount of work invested by the Dean, Cathedral staff and the choir, the programme felt a little flat. Contrast our Songs of Praise experience to the Pentecost service from Peterborough, and I was blown away. The service was live, but had numerous shots and angles. I'm guessing that being live made a difference to the atmosphere, and every little thing had been thought about to make it a delightful audio-visual encounter with God, inviting people into worship rather than simply the singing of songs. It must have taken months to prepare, and a lot of money, but it was worth it.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


I break my 'it really couldn't have been that long, could it?' blogging silence to remind those of you living in Europe to VOTE tomorrow.

Obviously I do care about whom you vote for, and if you ask me directly I'll tell you who my Number 1 is going to and why. But perhaps more pressing is the actual need to VOTE! It's one of the responsiblities we who live in a free and democratice society have. If you don't vote, you can't complain or expect politicians to even consider doing what you want them to do. (And then there are the people who died to save us from a dictatorship, and the people who are continuing to die around the world in bringing freedom to other societies)...

So make the effort and do it! And pray while you're at it :)

[image can be downloaded from here]

Thursday, 16 April 2009


It's been a strange old week, a mixture of our first Easter in a new setting, a return to Castlewellan to visit Craigmore Youth Club's Easter Camp, and the death of my other grandmother. Another fantastic lady! And again, I was invited to share a few words at her funeral. The text is below:

I’ve been pondering for several days what to say about Hilda Elizabeth Harte, or ‘Nana’ as she always was to me and all her grandchildren – Jenny, Ian and Malcolm; Nigel and Kate; Stephen and Sheena. She was ‘Mum’ to Mavis and Gerald, Ken and Averil, Ray and Sue. She was ‘Hilda’ to her brother and sisters, Albert, Mabel, Grace and Marjorie, and to her late husband, Fred. To many, many people she was that ‘lovely lady’, Mrs. Harte. I hope you don’t mind if I refer to her as Nana.

We were looking yesterday evening at Nana’s photo albums, which document much of her 94 years. Hilda Elizabeth Cummings was born on 14 July 1914 and lived near Washing Bay in Co. Tyrone. She saw virtually the whole of the 20th Century!

As a young woman she worked in Stevensons of Dungannon (otherwise known as Moygashel), where Major Stevenson on one occasion described her as the ‘clever little lady’! But she was swept off her feet and away from Tyrone when one of the junior ministers, who used to cycle past the Cummings homestead on their way to Stuartstown Methodist Church, courted her and married her on 27 October 1936. Fred and Hilda were a team, often visiting members of their churches together, where Nana’s warm style was very much appreciated. She played the organ, taught Sunday School and was generally wonderful! I received a note from a family who were genuinely thankful for Nana and Papa in their retirement as babysitters, and another from a local preacher who appreciated Nana’s encouragement as she moved towards becoming a minister. One of my stronger memories is of Nana and Papa holding hands while going for a walk – I remember how encouraging it was to think that a couple could still be in love after almost sixty years of marriage, and resolved to never be embarrassed about holding my wife’s hand in public.

They had moved to Margaretholme sheltered accommodation in Sandymount for a short period but it was clear after Papa’s death that Nana would need more personal attention. She moved back to Dun Laoghaire where Mavis and Gerald could keep an eye on her, but after four years it was fully apparent that Alzheimer’s Disease had taken its hold and she would need full-time nursing care. The Royal Hospital, Donnybrook, became her new home, where she very happily settled and stayed until her death on Wednesday morning. The care and attention she received there was truly fantastic, hence the family’s desire that you support the Hospital in Nana’s memory.

The scourge of Alzheimer’s is that it robs us of the character of the person we love, yet the body remains. At times over the last eight years we have seen glimpses of Nana’s former nature shine through – beautiful smiles and delight in playing the piano, a love of children and of singing, and her delight in God her heavenly Father.

Much was expected of a minister’s wife and family in the 40s and 50s, perhaps more than was fair. Nana had duties to fulfil and a role to play, but at the core of her being was the love of God. She found great joy in sitting down at a piano, any piano, and singing hymns and songs of worship to Jesus. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Today we can take comfort from knowing that Nana and Papa are now reunited in that place that Jesus had prepared for them, praising God together forever.

One translation of 1 Cor 13:12-13 reads: Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we shall see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. There are three things that will endure – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love.

There is no doubt that in her last years Nana saw things imperfectly, as in a poor mirror – but today she sees everything with perfect clarity, the partial is made complete, and the three things that endure – faith, hope and love – have come to fulfilment.

faith was in Jesus Christ, the God who created us, became one of us and died to save us from ourselves, to bring life in its fullness. Her hope was an Easter Saturday hope – that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead would also raise her. Her love was in the One who first loved her, God who created us to be in loving relationship with him.

Yesterday some of us were talking about how different personality types respond to various situations. I often find it easier to talk about Jesus in this setting than with a smaller group of friends or family. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that there is life after death, and the One who we have the choice to spend that life with is ready to comfort and counsel us in this life. That was Nana’s experience, and it is mine. Feel free to talk with me about it some time.

May the God of love, who promised to give us his peace, fill all our hearts and minds with love and peace this day and every day.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

If it wasn't for Easter

If it wasn't for Easter, I really don't know what I'd do. If Jesus wasn't alive I don't think I could do this.


And that's good.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Album Cover

Lots of people have done this, and I think it's amazing what comes up!

If you'd like to give it a go, here are the rules:
Follow instructions exactly:

1 - Go to wikipedia Hit “random... Read more” (NB - I couldn't find this so I just clicked 'Random article')
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop or similar to put it all together. (NB - if, like me, you don't have photoshop - download for free)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

No Going Back

In a sense, I'm at a loss for words.

It breaks me to write my first 'noticing' of self-denial regarding the people killed in Northern Ireland in the last three days. It seems that the off-duty army personnel threw themselves in front of bullets to protect the pizza delivery men, hours before they were due to leave for service in Afghanistan. And the police officer shot last night was among a number responding to a call for help from a vulnerable woman.

I'm writing today because in a sense I don't know what else to do...

Following the weekend's events it is clear that money, politics and being nice do not 'solve' our problems - this province needs desperately to be reconciled to itself. I find it hard to work out what my role is in that, other than to note that a deep-rooted sectarianism continues to be embedded in our middle class Methodist culture. If we can identify the existence of sectarianism there is a chance that we might be able to deal with it and work together towards full reconciliation.

Ultimately, though, we need to cry out to God for healing for those who have been bereaved and hurt; for a breaking of hardened hearts of those who believe that murder will achieve anything - that they would turn themselves in to the Police and receive the just penalty for their crimes; for the Church to stand united against evil and together in Christ; for the Spirit to move in power, bringing revival to this island.

For those of us who feel powerless, prayer is access to the all-mighty One who can bring healing to hearts and nations. May God direct our steps when we rise from our knees.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

What more must Zimbabwe suffer?

I just read that Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife was killed in a car accident yesterday. After all that the people of Zimbabwe have suffered in recent years, this is one more tragedy.

There are no indications at the moment of foul play, although my understanding is that assassination by truck has happened in the past in Africa. If it truly was an accident it will take great leadership and presence of mind to hold on to Hope. I pray this will not be the proverbial straw but that God will comfort and strengthen those who peacefully struggle for freedom.

I, along with many others, will be pleading, "How Long, O Lord, how long?"

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Path of Self-Denial

It's Ash Wednesday and so Lent begins. This year, rather than 'giving up' something (which is admirable but alas in the past hasn't made me any more like Jesus, it's just saved me some money due to decreased chocolate consumption), I want to travel down the path of self-denial.

If there's anything the human race could be accused of, it's the obsession with self, the monarchy of 'me' - and I count myself firmly in that camp. Despite my best intentions my needs, wants, almost always come first. Self-discipline is not one of my strong-points - it could not be said of me that I 'beat my body into submission' as Paul would advocate.

However, it wouldn't seem right for Lent to take on a legalistic tone where guilt comes to party for seven weeks as I fail day after day to live up to my higher-than-possible standards. Smoking-cessation advertisements carry the tag, "requires willpower". My experience is that willpower alone may not be enough to knock the King of self off his throne.

So here's what I want to do - and this post will act as a kind of accountability:
* Purposefully invite the Holy Spirit to fill me each morning for strength to live for Christ and not me
* Pray with Kathryn each night rather than watch the West Wing (!)
* Listen for God's whispers of, 'do you really need to buy/eat/do that?' and obey
* Keep an eye open for instances of self-denial taking place in the world, and blog them

Let's see what happens!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

A picture speaks a thousand words

Well, twenty anyway - according to Wordle, this is how Random Moos can be portrayed in 20 words...

Wordle: Random Moos 15-01-09