This week for his ecumenical tithing Fr Martin Magill travelled to the Newtownards Road in East Belfast, where he visited Megain Memorial Church of the Nazarene. Fr Magill gleaned a lot of lessons from the sermon, which focused on the Holy Spirit.
I would also commend readers to Fr Magill’s reflections on the 12th of July parade in Belfast, which were published today in the Irish News. Although the Irish News is not available online without a subscription, the Belfast News Letter and the Slugger O’Toole Blog reported on his remarks. In observing that the “12th wasn’t Protestant enough for me,” in part, he said:
“When I think of my Protestant friends and colleagues, I think of people who read and love the Bible and who by God’s grace model their lives on the life of Jesus.
“The more these modern day disciples are central to the Twelfth celebrations, the more we all will experience grace and generosity — and maybe even a day we all can celebrate.”
As readers of his regular posts on “ecumenical tithing” will know, Fr Magill experiences generosity in his visits to Protestant churches on a regular basis, forming new relationships and entering spaces where mutual learning and appreciation can develop.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Megain Memorial Church of the Nazarene
This week, I worshipped in Megain Memorial Church of the Nazarene on the Newtownards Road, where I received a very warm welcome when I went in.
The service was led by Marty, the youth pastor, who shared some verses from John’s gospel, including the same piece of scripture which the preacher, Richard Porter, would preach on.
We then sang two hymns. I liked the fact that the congregation sat as we sang the hymns. The “tithes and offerings” were then taken up.
After another hymn, Richard preached.
In his introductory remarks, he referred to King David worshipping God in freedom, the example of this for us, and the value of the inner freedom to worship The Lord.
Richard then read John 7:37-39:
37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
After that he prayed.
The following are some of the points from his sermon which stayed with me:
- It can be easy to forget that the Holy Spirit is a person, there is a danger of seeing the Spirit as a commodity. The Church is not a spiritual petrol station. Love is the Holy Spirit. God gives himself and lives within us.
- “God give me peace”: often a prayer, we need to get to know the Holy Spirit better – the Spirit within us. If we want more joy in our lives, then we need to live and be aware of God’s presence. The Lord Almighty rises up within us, the presence of God gives revival, we have to get to know God truly. How often do we listen to the Holy Spirit and God living within us?
- Richard also talked about the Holy Spirit flowing within us – we are like channels – we can become like a stagnant lake if we do not allow the Spirit to flow within us.
- Richard asked: “why would God want to live within us – with our every thought?” God wants us to become like his Son Jesus.
- He suggested: “Don’t seek peace, seek God, set your heart and mind on God”. “You will keep him in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on you”. (Isaiah 26:3) If the Holy Spirit is living within us, then he is speaking to us.
- Everything Jesus did was by the power of the Holy Spirit – he had already learned to walk in the peace of the Holy Spirit. We cannot minister peace until we know peace in the Spirit ourselves – the storms we can sleep through. When there is a need in our lives, we pray to know The Lord more. When we are all dammed up inside, then we need to focus our minds and hearts on God, change thought patterns in life to focus on God. He wants to flow through us like a river. We need the intimacy of going into the holy of holies and staying there in our heart.
After Richard’s sermon, we prayed for people with addictions, suicidal tendencies and the needs of people of the area. He prayed for the congregation that God would release us and set us free to allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely.
We finished with final hymns.