Yesterday Fr Martin Magill returned to Antrim Road Baptist Church for his ecumenical tithing. The service included reflection on Psalm 50/51 and the need for God’s mercy.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Antrim Road Baptist Church
This weekend, I worshiped in Antrim Road Baptist Church close to the Waterworks in the North of the city. In the evening time, the service takes place in the church halls. I was warmly greeted by two members of the congregation as I went in – they had recognised me from a previous visit.
The pastor, Albert McDonald, made a point of coming to speak to me in my seat and welcome me before beginning the service. He also welcomed me publicly.
The service began with a short prayer and then we sang a number of hymns from the Mission Praise hymnbook with accompaniment on the piano. Albert also included a prayer for the north of the city and its many needs.
After the collection was taken up, Albert then read Psalm 51 which I know as Psalm 50, written by David after Nathan came to confront him about his adultery with Bathsheba and arranging that her husband would be killed in battle.
I was interested in the fact that the congregation had been studying the psalms for a number of weeks – I am presently working on a series entitled “A Quick Journey through the Psalms” for the 5 Mondays of June with 5 different speakers.
In the course of the sermon, Albert spoke about the first five verses reminding the congregation about the background of the psalm and drawing out some of the messages from the verses.
I especially liked his comments on verse 2: “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”. I took the following notes as he spoke:
“David recognises his sinfulness. He understood the holiness of God – the intensity of his plea expresses his desire for God’s mercy. Wash me – cleanse me – blot out my transgressions. David wanted more than a superficial cleaning, this was more than David turning over a new leaf. David understands the reality of sin before God. It is more than an outward change of life – that will never do. All the church in the world will not help wash away all my sins. The image of washing by beating or kneading is used — clothes are beaten against a rock, an effort is put in here. Some people come to church for a rinse, for a superficial make over. David wanted more. He understood the deep stain of sin in his life – no soapy religion will wash it away. There is a need for God’s mercy.”
The service ended with another hymn and I chatted to a number of people in the congregation including Albert himself, who will be away on missionary work for the next two Sundays.