FROM THE RECTOR Since our last Newsletter we continue with the ‘Lockdown’ in hope and prayer that it will improve the number of people affected and break the cycle of the Corona virus pandemic in Ireland. As we approach the May bank holiday weekend many may be feeling restless but I think the majority of people want to do what is right so that we can truly get to the other side of this crisis. The consequence of the Lockdown continues to mean that the normal routine of our parish is on pause.
The only parish organisation that is continuing during the crisis is our Bible Study. Zoom was something that I was personally totally unfamiliar with before the Lockdown but have become well accustomed to now that our small but faithful Bible Study group are having our meetings on Tuesday evenings on Zoom. We finished the BACI Lenten series ‘Caring for the Garden of the Earth’. All our Church Services are broadcast on Facebook live and can be viewed either live or later on our Facebook page St Maelruain’s Tallaght Parish – Church of Ireland or linked on our parish website www.stmaelruains.ie
We have now returned to our organised topic readings for the following Sunday after studying Easter, the story of Mary finding the empty tomb and who then mistook Jesus to be the gardener, like the disciples not expecting a physical resurrection. Also doubting Thomas who wasn’t in the locked upper room when Jesus first appeared to the disciples and refused to believe that Jesus had risen and wouldn’t believe until he could physically sample the wounds of Jesus himself. A week later Jesus revealed himself to Thomas to confirm that he had indeed risen, putting Thomas fears and doubts to rest once and for all. Thomas responded ‘My Lord and my God’ recognising him as the risen messiah. He turned from a doubter to a believer; some might say he was the hard nosed sceptic checking out the facts on our behalf.
Thomas has particular significance to our Indian parishioners. Thomas is credited with bringing Christianity to Southern India and the State of Kerala who don’t speak of him as ‘Doubting Thomas’ but of ‘Thomas of Indian’. Beginning with the ancient Orthodox Churches in Indian many of the Christians tend to go into the caring professions, that’s why we have so many Indian nurses working in our hospitals.
Last Sunday we looked at the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus in which, two disciples are walking to Emmaus just days after the crucifixion of Jesus when a third man came close to them and together they walked and discussed Jesus, his resurrection and their doubts and beliefs. When they arrive in Emmaus and join in supper, the third man is recognized as Jesus himself as he broke and blessed the bread. When the two people returned to Jerusalem they pronounced to the disciples that the Lord has risen! If we look at it from the point of view of the disciples by the third day of death, Jews would have believed the soul had left the body, they were expecting the Messiah to save them from the Romans but Jesus tells us he had to suffer before being glorified as the scriptures tell us beginning with Moses, to the prophets and the entire Old Testament to remind us that it was all part of God’s plan, like when we trace at the nine lessons at the Carol Service.
In the last few Sundays we have looked at Peter’s sermon when 3,000 were added to their number. I am always confronted by the growth of the early Christian Church from the frightened band in the Upper Room to Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit. During this period we substitute the Old Testament with the reading from the Acts of the Apostles.
This Sunday (4th May) we will be looking at the reading of Acts 2: 42-47 ‘The Common Purse’ which in the current economic climate and the ramifications of the Lockdown has particular relevance to us all including our parish. The reading tells us that ‘All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need’. The Old Testament tells us to tithe ten per cent of our income but we see they shared everything in common.
We are now approaching our seventh Sunday of social isolation and an empty church apart from myself and my family videoing services to go on Facebook Live, consequently we have had no collection from the congregation, our Summer Sale is cancelled and our rental income is on hold so as you can imagine it is a dire time for the finances of the parish. Our Parish struggles from year to year to survive financially and the impact of the current situation is unthinkable so we are appealing to parishioners to continue with their regular parish giving. You may contribute by cheque (made payable to Tallaght Parish Church) or on online banking. To obtain the parish bank details please contact the parish office on 462 6006. If you decide to give online please be sure to reference your name so that your contribution is traceable. I thank you on behalf of the Select Vestry for any contribution you can make.
In closing, I’d like to ask people to pray for all those around the world affected by Covid19, this is an event that we will never forget and the effects of which will change many of our lives forever. Perhaps now we all have time to reflect on life itself, in the future ahead we hope good can come out of the changes we are facing while people long for community they may find comfort in coming to church as demonstrated below.
God Bless William
FACEBOOK LIVE STATISTICS (St. Patrick’s Day, Lent and Holy Week omitted)
As mentioned previously we have been broadcasting our Church Services on Facebook Live. I thought parishioners may find it interesting to see the statistics:
SERVICE REACH VIEWS LIKES COMMENTS SHARES
(people who are informed)
Mothering Sunday 841 695 37 23 1
Morning Prayer 335 276 33 13 1
Palm Sunday 635 372 35 25 2
Easter Sunday 660 529 44 45 5
Holy Communion 611 297 41 29 1
Family Service 310 288 37 22 1
We are aware of 50 parish households who view regularly because members have liked or made a comment on each service they watched which gives great encouragement to our ukulele player and videographer.
EASY TO USE SMART PHONE
In the run up to putting our church Services on line I rang around our elderly parishioners to let them know about the services and discovered that many of them had yet to move on to the technology of a Smart Phone. Following that realisation I saw advertised an ‘Easy to Use Smart Phone’. It has the option of being extra loud and a large display screen which make contacts easily accessible. The family support feature allows friends or relatives to control the phone remotely to offer assistance in using the phone. I saw the advertisement in the RTE Guide and the phone retails for €259.99 perhaps seems expensive but in these isolating times may be a means of keeping in visual contact with family, extended family and friends in these lonely times for many.
I was asked to do a radio interview by the Auxiliary priest assigned to Clondalkin Parish, Rev. Martin O’Connor who does a programme on Dundrum Community Radio, Dundrum Shopping Centre every five weeks. He interviewed me along with the organist of Clondalkin, Peter O’Callaghan ( also of the BB Steadfast Band) and the Lay Reader Barbara O’Callaghan (Peter’s wife) and opened up by asking how the Lockdown has effected us. Peter said how he missed playing music on the organ and Barbara spoke of how she missed worship. I spoke of how myself and the family had taken to broadcasting our services online and about what the impact will be for the future of our Church. The interview will be broadcast on Sunday 3rd May at 5.30pm