This week for his ecumenical tithing Fr Martin Magill returned to Woodvale Presbyterian Church, where he renewed some friendships and gleaned much from the sermon by Rev Ken Doherty.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Woodvale Presbyterian Church
As I had not been to Woodvale Presbyterian Church for some time, I chose to worship there. I received the usual very warm welcome and was invited to read the scripture passage.
The service began with some words from Psalm 103 and we then sang the opening hymn.
This was followed by a prayer led by the minister, Rev Ken Doherty.
After another hymn, I then read from Matthew 13 beginning at verse 10.
The prayers which followed were for the world, acknowledging human suffering throughout our world. In a very poignant way, Ken invited us to a time of quiet prayer for the Middle East, and he talked about how we were part of a “World Wide Web of prayer”.
The announcements, the offering and another hymn followed.
The following are some key points from the sermon:
- Matthew spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven, instead of the Kingdom of God. This was related to his Jewish background and the fact that Jews refer to G-d.
- Parables were like bugle calls to make people wake up. The people knew well about fishing – their daily routine spoke to them about the Kingdom of Heaven (as will ours).
- From Old Testament teaching, there were certain types of fish – some clean and some not clean.
What are the lessons from the parable of the net?
- The net could not discriminate one kind of fish from the other. Likewise the Church cannot tell good from bad – the righteous from the wicked.
- An exclusive view of Church being for good people – holy people – is still practised today by some churches. It would be great if Church were like a pure body – but what are we like? Are we totally pure and holy – of course not.
- An inclusive view is that in the Church of Christ all are welcome – the past does not matter. There is an invitation for all – all are welcome. Jesus said do not judge. We look for a credible profession of faith, but the Church is a mixture and we cannot separate one from another.
- There will be separation – there will be a day of judgement and a day of separation. But we should live in such a way so we will not be thrown away.
- In Church there are all kinds of people – and we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. We need to go out and spread the gospel to all who will listen. The Church must be a missionary church – we can’t stay within the comfort of a building. We need to go to the highways and byways.
The sermon was followed by a prayer that God will teach us.
After the service, I had the opportunity to talk to chat to a number of people. This reminded me of the value of getting to know people at these weekly gatherings and developing relationships.