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40 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 16 September 2012

A Service of the Word from Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
Led by Very Rev Dermot Dunne, Dean of Christ Church

Preacher: Canon John Bartlett

Director of Music: Ian Keatley
Organist: David Bremner.


    "Holy is the true light, and passing wonderful, lending radiance to them that endured in the heat of the conflict: from Christ they inherit a home of unfading splendour, wherein they rejoice with gladness evermore".

    Alleluia, alleluia.

    Words from the "Salisbury Diurnal" by GH Palmer, music W H Harris

    The Dean, the Very Reverend Dermot Dunne: Welcome, Introduction and Penitential:

    Good morning and welcome to Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. This cathedral is at the heart of a bustling capital city and our ministry is an inclusive one which welcomes everyone who comes through our doors. We especially welcome our listeners from throughout these islands aware of a new sense of kinship expressed by the wonderful visit of Her Majesty the Queen here earlier this year.

    Our colleague the Reverend Garth Bunting:

    Today we are reminded that wherever we are we share in the fellowship of the gospel which calls us to a living faith which expresses itself in a call to service.

    At times, we are slow to faith and lacking in our service to others. Let us acknowledge our weakness and the need for God in our lives:

    Christ came in humility to share our lives:
    Forgive our pride.
    Lord, have mercy.
    Lord, have mercy

    Christ came with good news for all people:
    Forgive our silence.
    Christ, have mercy.
    Christ, have mercy.

    Christ came in love to a world of suffering:
    Forgive our self-centredness.
    Lord, have mercy.
    Lord have mercy

    Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy on you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness and keep you in eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Hymn - "St Patrick’s Breastplate"
    -- I bind unto myself today
    Tune: St Patrick,
    Attributed to St Patrick
    Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924)Versified by Mrs C.F. Alexander (1818–1895)

    Rev. Garth Bunting:Collect of the day
    Let us pray.

    God, who in generous mercy, sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: Grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel; that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Rev. Garth Bunting: Meditation
    I have just prayed the collect set for today and through it we have asked God that we may always be found abiding in Him. We will be, I hope, helped to do that today as we join in the fellowship of the gospel. It is in these acts of worship that we ask God to sustain us for the work and witness God calls us to: being steadfast in faith and active in service as the collect puts it.

    Every new generation is called to faith and service and it helps to find inspiration from the experience of those who have gone before.

    There is a story that when St. Francis of Assisi entered the town of Montefeltro in Italy, he climbed a wall and preached to the multitude. When he was finished, one of his listeners, Lord Orlando said to Francis: “Brother Francis, I have an abandoned and solitary mountain in Tuscany, which is called Mount La Verna. It is very suitable for those who wish to live a solitary life. If this mountain pleases you and your companions, I would very willingly give it to you for the salvation of my soul.”

    Saint Francis deeply desired a solitary place where he could more completely give himself to divine contemplation, so when he heard this offer, he first gave praise to God and then gave thanks to Lord Orlando and said: “My Lord, when you return to your region, I will send you two of my companions. Show them this mountain and if it seems suitable, I most willingly accept your charitable offer.”

    Saint Francis sent two of his associates to Mount La Verna. After they saw the place, they went to Saint Francis and told him that it was very remote and suitable for divine contemplation. St Francis gave thanks to God.

    Francis was aware of the need to find a place, set apart, where he could be inspired to live out God’s call. It was Mount La Verna that was that place for him. There are very few of us who have access to a Mount La Verna but we can be inspired to learn from Francis and create some way of finding a place set apart for our own divine contemplation.

    Priest and poet, Ian Adams, in "Cave, Refectory, Road", calls this 'cave-dwelling'- finding a place that is set apart from all that regular life -throws at us, a place of sanctuary and solitude. He describes how monastics, down the centuries, have sought places where prayer can be the focus.

    Perhaps, our time together this morning helps create a 'cave' for you. Maybe there’s a small space in your home, or a church that you walk past to/from work, or a quiet park bench where you can sit and create stillness in your life. Finding 'caves' aids us in the practice of spirituality and in the practice, the divine contemplation, which sustains us for our work and witness, wherever that happens. Here’s how Ian Adams describes his 'cave', in the poem “St Ives”:

    A loft, an opening
    Room to breathe
    Into stillness
    A window, light streams
    Hard lines soften
    Possibilities emerge

    A cell, a look-out post
    To look within
    And a shuffling of priorities

    Many of us find these within our beliefs. We sing the hymn "Firmly I believe".

    Hymn – NEH360 "Firmly I believe"
    Tune: Shipston
    Ralph Vaughan-Williams (1872–1958)John Henry Newman (1801–90)

    First Reading:
    Isaiah 50.4-9a

    A reading from the prophet Isaiah.
    The servant of the LORD said: "The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens – wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. 5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backwards. 6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. 7 The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint and I know that I shall not be put to shame; 8 he who vindicates me is near.

    This is the Word of the Lord.
    Thanks be to God.

    Rev. Garth Bunting: A moment ago I was reflecting on finding inspiration from the past.

    "Parry’s anthem" speaks of that inspiration. There is an old

    Sir C. Hubert H. Parry
    John Gibson Lockhart

    READER: Second Reading
    Mark 8.27-38

    A reading from the Gospel of St Mark.
    27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples: ‘Who do people say that I am?’ 28 And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ 29 Jesus asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him: ‘You are the Messiah.’ 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said: ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ 34 He called the crowd with his disciples and said to them: ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. This is the Word of the Lord.

    Thanks be to God.

    The Sermon: Canon John Bartlett

    Some of you may remember that song, ‘Imagine’, by John Lennon:

    "Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try;
    No hell below us, above us only sky....

    Imagine there’s no countries - it isn’t hard to do,
    Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too...."

    Lennon suggests that without nationalism, without religion, without ideas of Heaven and Hell, there would be peace, "a brotherhood of man". Many people think we would be better off without religion. They see its fundamentalists as too simple-minded and provocative; they see its fanatics and extremists as wrecking society and creating war; they see its scandals as undermining any truth it may have. Religion of that kind, they say, gives religion a bad smell that the world would be better without.

    Yet many people, including myself, have a profound sense that religion stands for the mystery at the heart of creation, for the underlying truth in things, for what is holy, for what is good, for what is just, for the divine love reflected in the human love which is what makes humanity tick. We know that such religion, reflecting the holy and the good, is a lot better than the human focus on greed, on possessions, on power, on fame, on sex and the celebrity culture. This kind of religion is not about the sharp division of people between sheep and goats, Heaven and Hell, about a puritanical life-style but about the mystery and unifying power of love. Religion is innate in humanity; it can be used or misused, for good or for evil; but it has much to offer us, to save us from ourselves. We cannot scrap religion because some of its representatives are unworthy of their creed; that is to ditch the precious baby with the dirty bathwater.

    We meet in our churches, our synagogues, our mosques, our temples, and our cathedrals to worship, to pay our respects to the mystery of God. We worship, we meditate, we pray through the medium of words, visual arts, music, movement and liturgy, and through silence, too. These things are windows to the reality of things; artists – whether verbally, visually, musically, or bodily – seek to express the divine reality behind the things they see. Some people would just take the art and music and movement for its own sake, simply to enjoy it, would use cathedrals merely as concert halls and try to avoid thinking about what inspires it all but that is to undervalue and misunderstand the artists and their work. Here in church or cathedral we try to reach behind the visual and verbal symbols to that divine reality and make it available.

    Anyone for whom literature, art, music are important in life knows the way they combine both joy and sorrow. We cannot simply live in a world without human sorrows, as Lennon suggests we might. The biblical writers knew, realistically, both aspects of creation. The poet of Job has the morning stars singing together for joy at the creation of the world; the person of Job experiences the full misery of personal suffering: ‘God has cast me into the mire’, he says. ‘I have become like dust and ashes’. Artists and writers reflect this duality of creation and always have done and their work becomes part of the reflection and worship of the Church, as it ponders the relationship between the goodness of creation and the suffering of Christ. The two belong together; this is the endless mystery which Christianity puts before humankind; this is the endless saving mystery which Christianity presents through the figures of the Creator and the Crucfied. Amen.

    Rev Garth Bunting: The choir sings a setting of the "Nunc Dimittis" by Holst, which celebrates the coming of the Saviour.

    "Nunc Dimittis" GUSTAV HOLST

    Rev. Garth Bunting:Prayers & "Lord’s Prayer"
    Let us pray.

    We pray for our world, that it may receive compassion from Christ’s church:

    O God, your son, Jesus, cared for the welfare of everyone and went about doing good; grant us the imagination and perseverance to create in our countries and throughout the world a just and loving society for all and make us agents of your compassion to the suffering, the persecuted and the oppressed. Help us to look to your Son who is our pattern and our redeemer.

    Lord in your mercy,
    hear our prayer.
    Let us continue to pray for the world, that peace and reconciliation may rest in the hearts of all:

    Eternal God, whose image lies at the heart of all people, each of us lives amongst people whose ways are different from ours, whose faiths and tongues we do not always understand. Help us to remember that you love all people with your great love, that all religion is an attempt to respond to you, that the yearnings of other hearts are much like our own and are known to you. Help us to recognize you in the words of truth, the things of beauty, and the actions of love about us.

    Lord in your mercy
    hear our prayer.

    Let us pray today for those who are suffering, especially those traumatized by the recent murders in the Alps and those in distress following the publication of the Hillsborough disaster report:

    Father of compassion and mercy, you never fail to help those who cry to you: give strength and courage to all who are in need today. Hold them up that they shall be safe; enable them to know you are near, and to know that underneath are the everlasting arms; and grant that, resting in your protection, they may fear no evil, since you are with them.

    Lord in your mercy
    hear our prayer.

    And finally, let us pray for the church:

    Give to your Church, O God, the grace to follow in the steps of Jesus, who came among us as one who serves. May it be ready in all the world to spend and be spent in the service of the poor and the hungry, the sick and all in need. May it work with strength and suffer with courage for the liberation of the oppressed and the restoration to all of the dignity and freedom of those created in your image: grant this, O Father, for the sake of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

    Let us sum up all our prayers in the words of the Lord’s prayer:

    "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.

    The Hymn: "Love Divine all loves excelling"
    vv 1-3 Bernard of Cluny 12th century
    Tune: Blaenwern tr. J. M. Neale (1818-66)
    William Penfro Rowlands (1860–1937)v. 4 Hymns Ancient and Modern 1861

    The Dean: Final Prayer and Blessing
    Eternal God,
    Our beginning and our end,
    Be with us in this day’s journey
    Dawn on our darkness,
    Open our eyes to praise you for your creation
    And to see the work you set before us today.
    Take us and use us
    To bring to others the new life you give in Jesus Christ our Lord.
    And the blessing of God almighty,
    Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you always.

    Organ Voluntary:
    Parry, Chorale Prelude on ‘Dundee’


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