Thank you for your interest in the Moneydig and Second Kilrea climb Donard for United Appeal challenge.
The idea of the challenge is that if you climb a normal set of house stairs 360 times you will have climbed the same height as Slieve Donard. If you are up for the challenge then download the record sheet below. Every time you climb the stairs 10 times get someone to sign off your achievement finish all 360 climbs and you’ll have reached the top.
Getting to the top of Donard is an incredible achievement, but what would be even better is if we could help others while we are doing it. If you are able why not ask some family and close friends to sponsor you while you make your climb. Then when you have finished, and when it is safe to collect the money bring it to church and we will give it to the United Appeal.
7 years ago I had the incredible privilege of being installed and ordained as minister of Moneydig Presbyterian Church and appointed as the settled Stated Supply for Second Kilrea Presbyterian Church.
It has been an absolute honour to be part of the life and history of Moneydig and Second Kilrea. We have known many good days, enjoyed many successes together and we have wept and supported one another during some incredibly sad moments.
I give thanks to God for all that he has done in each of our lives these last years. We have seen people come to faith in Jesus Christ, we have watched others grow in their faith. New leaders have taken on new responsibilities, we have elected new people to committee and ordained two elders together.
I would like to make a special mention to our young people. I have loved getting to know you, having you at the manse on Friday afternoons. I have valued your friendship and the opportunity to be your minister.
Things never stay the same and so a new chapter is beginning for Moneydig and Second Kilrea as well as for Julia, the boys and I. On the 30th of June I will be installed as the minister of Portstewart Presbyterian Church, bringing to an end my time in Moneydig.
While we are excited about this challenge we are of course sad to be leaving so many friends and a place that has been a huge part of our lives. Please be assured we will continue to pray for all in Moneydig and Second Kilrea and hopefully you will continue to pray for us.
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20: 24-29
Last week we looked at the joy felt by the disciples when the resurrected Jesus appeared to them in the locked room. They were all there except Thomas. We can only imagine the disappointment that Thomas must have felt when he heard that Jesus had appeared to everyone except him. How he must have bitterly regretted not being there. This disappointment was so strong that it led him to say I will not believe until I see him for myself (v25). Thomas was not prepared to take anyone else’s word for it.
If we are honest, we often behave like Thomas. How often have we heard Jesus proclaimed but we cannot be sure because we have not experienced him for ourselves? We are jealous of the experience of others who seem so sure of Jesus’ presence. We go so far as to say, ‘If only I could hear his voice, feel his presence in the way that others do’.
However, what we can be sure of is that Jesus will meet us where we are. Jesus appeared to Thomas and offered to let him feel his wounds (v27) – and Thomas believed! Jesus said, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’.
Jesus is saying to us that we do not have to see him to believe. In James 4 v8 it says that if we draw near to God he will draw near to us and Jeremiah 29 v13 says ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’. So, here we have the answer to our longings. Seek God with our whole being and continually do our best to draw near to him. He will answer our heart’s cry.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
John ch 20 v 19-23
It was the first day of the week. Peter and John had visited an empty tomb. All the disciples were together except Thomas. They had been told by Mary Magdalene that she had ‘seen the Lord’. Despite knowing this they were in a locked room out of fear of the Jewish leaders – not exactly a great witness to the risen Lord Jesus.
Remember that the last time they had seen their Lord he was hanging, dying on a cruel cross. They had witnessed his broken, dead body being taken down off the cross and placed in a tomb and yet they did not know where that body had gone.
They had just spent three years in his company. He had been their friend and companion. He had taught them. They had listened to him, hanging on his every word; not always understanding what he was telling them but yearning to understand. They had followed him about the country, watching as he performed signs and miracles, watching him calm the sea, heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead and forgive sins. They felt cared for and nurtured by him. They felt listened to by him. They felt loved by him.
His presence had given them a life of abundance, a life different from the life they had experienced before or ever dreamt of experiencing. His life had given them a life full of hope for the future, of certainty, of love and unity with each other, of meaning. And yet now he was gone. Imagine the inconsolable grief in that locked room. The sense of loss of the one person who had made everything worthwhile, who had given meaning to everything.
However, it was to this room that the risen Lord came and ‘stood among them’. And what a difference that made. We are told in John 20 v 20 that the disciples were ‘overjoyed when they saw the Lord’. Their reason for living was standing in front of them. He was not dead. He had risen. The joy of all their hopes and dreams was realised as he breathed his Spirit on them and sent them out (v21-22).
And that same joy is ours to have. The same risen Lord stands among us. The same Lord breaths his Spirit on us. He is our constant companion, our friend, our comforter, our fortress of safety, our dwelling place, our mentor, our guide, our teacher, our everlasting Lord. He allows us to be ourselves and he places no expectations on us other than to look to Him and allow Him to be our everything.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
On the first day of the week, after the crucifixion, May Magdalene went to the tomb looking for Jesus. As she stood outside the tomb crying because she did not know where the body of Jesus was, Jesus appeared to her and told her to tell the disciples ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’ (John ch 20 v 17).
In Ephesians ch 1 Paul speaks of the power God exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and placed him above ‘all power and dominion’. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms.
However, the good news of the Easter story does not end with Christ being raised from the dead. In Ephesians ch 3 v 4-6 Paul goes on to tell us that ‘because of his great love for us, God, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions’ and ‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’; ‘in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus’.
When we trust in Christ, when we accept God’s grace, God brings us from death to abundant life using the same power that he used to raise Jesus from the dead.
And the story doesn’t even stop there. Paul goes on to pray for the Ephesians ‘that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith’ Ephesians ch3 v 16-17.
When we are strengthened by God’s almighty power Christ lives in our hearts through faith. So, let’s remember that though we are weak and the church seems a bit fragmented at this present time, the indescribable and incomparable power of the cross, has raised us, his people, to life. Let us pray that this power, which rests on his people, will strengthen each of us so that Christ reigns supreme in our hearts and minds.
James’ funeral was held in Moneydig Presbyterian Church graveyard on Tuesday 23rd March and was conducted by Rev T J McCormick, minister of Boveedy Presbyterian Church and Rev S A Morrow, minister of Moneydig Presbyterian Church.
Growing up on a rural farm in Aghadowey, each day was different and my mum and dad faced many challenges. One day which never changed was Sunday as this was the Lord’s day, the day of rest and my parents faithfully attended Moneydig Presbyterian Church. This is where I was baptised along with my two brothers and each week we went to Sunday school and church. Being bought up in a Christian home I always thought I was a Christian.
Life is never a smooth ride and in my late teens I felt like it couldn’t get any worse as I lost my mum to cancer. My own health wasn’t the best and I was wondering ‘where is God in all of this?’.
But again and again God has blessed me. One such blessing is the people God has placed in my life. My wife Carol and our two amazing daughters Olivia and Sophie, my church family and in particular my friend Jacki. Who God not only placed in Moneydig but also in my workplace for 13 years. Jacki’s friendship and guidance really brought faith to life for me.
In 2015 I suffered an Epileptic seizure whilst on holiday and ended up in intensive care, I felt God was with me in that hospital and this was the start of my mature journey.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
Psalm 46, v1
I started mentoring sessions with my minister Stuart shortly after this which allowed me to ask questions and to understand the word of God better. Since then, with God’s guidance, I have been much more involved in Church life and was honoured to be ordained as an elder last year. I work with the Youth Fellowship which I hugely enjoy. As I guide them, I continue to learn and to see how amazing God is. Being more involved with my church brings me joy and none more so than singing in the choir for special services.
I have worked in the travel industry all of my life; I have had the pleasure of travelling to many countries all over the world but the best and most important journey of my life is the one I am on with my saviour.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God , which transcends all understanding , will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.