Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing–United Community Advent Service

photo 3As the advent season got underway, Fr Martin Magill, parish priest at Sacred Heart in North Belfast, attended the United Advent Service in Joanmount Methodist Church on the Oldpark Road.

Fr Magill describes a moving service that effectively utilized the special advent liturgy, ‘Into the Neighbourhood,’ prepared by the Hope and History campaign.

United Community Advent Service

This weekend, I worshipped at the United Advent Service in Joanmount Methodist Church on the Oldpark Road. The service followed the specially prepared liturgy by the Hope and History group. The service itself involved people from five of the local churches taking part in the service.

The service began with words of welcome from one of the members from Joanmount and then the singing of the hymn “Tell out my soul”.  The minister Rev Stephen Thompson led us in prayer asking God to open our hearts to the worship. Members of Joanmount/Embrace Ballysillan then read from the Hope and History service which included lighting the first candle. We then sang “On Jordan’s bank”.

The next readings were read by members of Ballysillan Presbyterian Church and  the second candle was lit to symbolise our commitment to act justly and promote mercy in the area. I was struck by words from the service:

“we have been more interested in judgement than justice and revenge rather than reconciliation.”.

We then sang “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”.

Then it was the turn of Cavehill Methodist for the next reading and the third candle was lit as a celebration of the joy we have as we rejoice in the Lord. The wording from the service included: “we have got our timing wrong” and “put flesh and blood on the joy of Lord”. We sang “O come, O come Immanuel”.

Then it was the turn of the Moravian church which is on the Oldpark Road and the lighting of the fourth candle to symbolise our commitment to be bringers of hope to this neighbourhood and these words:

“fill us with the hope that supplants the pain of the past. help us to transform the present age.”.

This was followed by singing: “At the name of Jesus.”

Then parishioners from Sacred Heart parish read and the service concluded with the final hymn “Sing We the King”.

Afterwards I had the opportunity to meet local people and clergy and wide ranging discussions and invitations ensued.

(Image: Robyn Scott with Advent candles)

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