Fr Martin Magill journeyed back to Shankill Methodist Church on Sunday for his weekly practice of Ecumenical Tithing. Fr Magill describes a challenging and participatory service which left him inspired for for prayer and perseverance.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing – Shankill Methodist Church
This weekend I returned to Shankill Methodist Church as I wanted to be there for another in the series on the book of Esther. It was very good to meet again some of the people I had met the last time I was there.
We began with two hymns “Give thanks for a grateful heart”; for the second one “Be still for the presence of the Lord,” the minister, Rev Margaret Ferguson, invited us to sit for which “I gave thanks with a grateful heart”.
In her opening prayer, Margaret prayed that God would challenge us and that we would take up the challenge.
We then had the DVD from the series, “Book by Book,” and we focussed on chapter 7 of the book of Esther and some of the issues it raised such as:
- How come the wicked seem to thrive?
- The unfairness of our world. We were invited to look to the big picture and were reminded how some tyrannies had fallen and had fallen very quickly.
- How Esther intercedes for her people.
- Esther as an example of someone who did not become bitter despite the hard knocks of life.
Margaret then facilitated a discussion which generated participation from almost everyone at the service.
- I found some of the sharing very powerful and helpful:
- The challenge to be transformed and not conformed.
- The need for a discipline of prayer.
- To live in a Martha world with a Mary disposition.
- Some people talked about tithing, not only of money but also talents and possessions.
It was very moving to hear one person say – “the more I give to God the more I get back”. I particularly was helped by the phrase, “rock solid faith in God”.
I loved the expression – “look up and look out instead of looking in”.
Margaret invited us to consider whether we were a people of prayer. We were invited to encourage one another and build one another up, and to avoid cynicism and criticism, which does so much damage in churches.
We were then invited to meet in twos and pray for each other which I found a very good experience.
The service finished with the hymn “Faithful One”.
Afterwards Margaret showed me the church café which has recently had some work done to it.
(Image: Cafe in Shankill Methodist Church)