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November 2015

THE WAR IS OVER: DID WE WIN? - FITZROY'S REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY LITURGY 2015

Rememberence Sunday

In the summer of 2014 we went off on holidays in mid July and the world seemed to go to war. In Ukraine rebels blew a passenger jet out of the sky. The television footage from Gaza was simply horrendous. The who was right or wrong seemed more urgent than stopping children being blown to pieces. Christian children were being beheaded in Iraq and American had started bombing there again. 

In the middle of it all many stopped to mark 100 years since the start of World War 1 

I was taken by the "We will remember them" event in its juxtaposition with that evening's news clips showing us how children were suffering the horror of war in Gaza. Those late teens who died in the World Wars should be remembered for the inhumane way that they died and not just as some romantic idea or name on a War Memorial Plaque. 

The greatest honour we could give them would be to make sure other teenagers don't meet the same fate. This is simplistic I know, like Paul Brady's "Now I know us plain folks don't see all the story, And I know this peace and love's just copping out," but as my friends Lies Damned Lies once put it "I am fighting to make peace..." Until everyone wins... nobody wins. Until everyone wins we really are not remembering them as we should. So... when...

 

We will remember them

I wonder when

We’ll begin to honour the lost

When we find an end

 

The dark

The mud

The pain

The blood

The fear

The breath

The terror

The death

 

We will remember them

We will turn out the lights

But hear the cries of the dying

Echo back through the night

Still we kill our children

Say its for our children’s sake

But we can never sing of victory

In the ricochet of a wake

We argue over who is right

We fight over who is wrong

Nobody can ever raise a flag

Until everybody belongs

For every unknown grave

Should be marked with “OUR INSANITY”

No one’s ever won a war

War keeps beating our humanity. 

 

We will remember them

I wonder when

We start to honour the lost

When we find an end.

 

PSALM 146

1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! 2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long. 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. 4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. 5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!

 

I am struck every Remembrance Sunday that I am remembering those in their late teens who sat in the same building and pews that we are today, then went off to war and never came back. I always see the late teens who sit in those pews now, think of the pastor's love I have for them, and imagine if I had to pray them off to war, or hear the news they had died at the Somme or had to pray at some funeral service for them. I actually am doing just that for those Fitzroy teens who went to war back then.

So, with all this in my head and heart and soul I wrote these lyrics and one of our teens Jonny Fitch has made it into a song and is going to give voice for his Fitzroy equivalent in 1914... 

I went for the adventure

I went to be brave

I went to see the world 

I went to try and save

Our way of life

Our being free

Our little church

And you’re love for me

 

The war is over

Did we win

Oh what new world

Did we begin.

 

I said we’d be back soon

I said we’d be alright

I said don’t you worry

I said that every night

That I would write

That I would pray

That I’d thank God

For his blessed day.

 

The war is over

Did we win

Oh what new world

Did we begin.

 

No one ever imagined

And you can’t imagine now

The pain, the screams, the smell

Blood sweating on my brow

LIke Jesus in that garden

Father take this cup somehow

The pain, the screams the smell

Blood sweating on his brow.

 

The war is over

Did we win

Oh what new world

Did we begin.

 

The Tryst                                                                                      

 

Leader: They shall grow not old as we who are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn;

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, 

we will remember them

 

ALL: We will remember them

 

The Last Post

 

One Minutes Silence                            

 

The Reveille  


RICKY ROSS LIVE AT THE EMPIRE MUSIC CLUB, BELFAST 4.11.15

Ricky Ross Empire

The very first time I excitedly saw Deacon Blue on television Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh were being interviewed at a piano and broke into a stripped back version of Ragman. I wanted more of it and got it at Greenbelt Festival in 1990 when Ricky did a wee surprise secret appearance and in a very small tent. (thank you Andy Thornton for the tip off). There were also piano versions released of Raintown, Wages Day, Circus Lights; I loved these incarnations.

So… that Deacon Blue’s frontman was doing a solo tour was right up my street called Thrilled! Though The Empire Music Club has its audience issues (a bar running down the side causing the clinking glasses; and toilets at the back causing a perpetual “excuse me” as those, who put their drink above the song, go back and forth and back and forth) it was not the worst atmosphere I have suffered through in The Empire. Ross’s crowd were on the main respectful.

That respect was particularly impressive considering that Ross did not play to the we-want-the-hits crowd. Yes, there was Wages Day, Real Gone Kid and a particular audience delight with When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) but there was no Dignity and the best known songs were few and far between. Between those hits Ross laid out a set list full of craft and depth. From the more recent Deacon Blue records we got the title track from A New House and That’s What We Can Do from Hipsters

The last four solo albums all made appearances and we’ll come to the encore from McIntosh Ross. Pale Rider was the most represented, as it should being particularly suited to this intimate setting.  

For me, the theo-musicologist, I was drawn to a few spiritual stepping stones throughout the evening. Ricky Ross writes for the head and the heart but no one should miss his depth charges to the soul. 

 

The baby comes, folks don't sleep

Those shepherds keep

You up later than you meant to be

One child grows and people notice

He's breaking chains

And making poor folks' lives so heavenly

(The way it's meant to be)

 

Ricky’s aim with this tour named The Lyric Book Tour, after a book that collects the best of his lyrics across his entire career, was to enjoy that catalogue of songs again and also get a chance in the more intimate setting to tell a few yarns. A fascinating aspect of the night were those song introductions telling of images in Ricky’s mind of Dundee or seeking a phone charger in a house of daughters or the old car that wasn’t too sleek and lovely but could carry the biggest Christmas tree home year after year. 

The theo-musicologist in me got most excited when he started to introduce a song that I quickly realised was Riches and the yarn was about Jim Punton a youth work guru from the late 70s and early 80s. I never met Punton but lived in the slipstream of his influence and Ricky brought that very first Deacon Blue b-side alive by sharing how Punton had inspired him with a vision and practice of the kingdom of God by giving what he had away to improve the lives of those who needed. 

 

“When you go on your journey don`t say goodbye

Don`t need clothes to wear

Or money to buy

Don`t take a bed to sleep in or sleeves to cry on

And don`t go gently into that good night”

 

My other favourite story, and the one that has stayed with me like a dog at my heels since the gig, was about a dog (see what I did there!). This dog caught Ricky’s attention as it galloped happily across a Glasgow street right into the arms, surprisingly for Ricky, of its homeless owner. Ricky pondered the better life that that dog could have had but seemed to conclude that all the comforts an owner in Bearsden could have given the dog would not have made it any happier than it was. Sharing this when he got back home Ricky’s wife Lorraine said that that was the kind of love that only dogs and God had. The song explores this from the voice of the dog… or God… and if you have ears to hear the parable… Utterly grace coloured brilliant!

Let me then head straight to the last song. Walls is from the McIntosh Ross record and I’d heard it many times but tonight, after Ricky speaks very warmly and tenderly about Belfast, the song takes on a dynamic prophetic edge. I listened in almost prayerful reflection, surmising Vicky Cosstick’s book Toward A City Without Walls and some of the work I am involved in around this symptom of my divided city:

 

“Walls come down eventually

Maybe only so that you can see

The space

In between

And you can see you can be

 

Walls come down so easily

As hard as it seem to you and me

And everybody here

There’s a hope

That all you can dream you

May be”

 

Please God!


TOMORROW IN FITZROY 8.11.15

Fitzroy Welcome Area Jasp

Tomorrow morning (11am) in Fitzroy we will be welcoming new first communicants, pondering what new world Jesus ushered in as we gather round the eucharist and having an act of Remembrance. In that act of Remembrance we will use poetry and Jonny Fitch will sing a brand new song in which he gives a teenage voice to the Fitzroy teens who left for war in 1914... Vibrant worship and reflections on Psalm 146 will gather all of that up and give it form.

In the evening (7pm) Rev Dr Peter McDowell will lead us through the final part of our powerful and provocative journey through the award winning film A Step Too Far? A Contemplation in Forgiveness. This has stretched us in our understanding and practice of forgiveness in personal and national situations. Tomorrow night we also welcome Paul Gallagher who ended up in a wheel chair after being riddled with bullets in his home by loyalist paramilitaries. What does Paul make of forgiveness?


THE WAR IS OVER (DID WE WIN)

THE WAR IS OVER photo

At some stage during his concert at the Errigle Inn last night Martyn Joseph mentioned a new world beginning. In Martyn's catalogue of songs that is not hard to imagine. He is a songwriter who kicks at the darkness until it bleeds daylight, to paraphrase another such singer, Bruce Cockburn. Martyn never shies away from the despair of our world but somehow hope and love and peace always win by the time he walks off stage. 

So, his thoughts started to blend in my mind with Remembrance Day and our Sunday morning act of Remembrance in Fitzroy. I am struck every Remembrance Sunday that I am remembering those in their late teens who sat in the same building and pews that we are today, then went off to war and never came back. I always see the late teens who sit in those pews now, think of the pastor's love I have for them, and imagine if I had to pray them off to war, or hear the news they had died at the Somme or had to pray at some funeral service for them. I actually am doing just that for those Fitzroy teens who went to war back then.

So, all this in my head and heart and soul I wrote this and have the idea that one of our teens might make it a song and sing it on Sunday... to give voice to his Fitzroy equivalent in 1914... 

I went for the adventure

I went to be brave

I went to see the world 

I went to try and save

Our way of life

Our being free

Our little church

And you’re love for me

 

The war is over

Did we win

Oh what new world

Did we begin.

 

I said we’d be back soon

I said we’d be alright

I said don’t you worry

I said that every night

That I would write

That I would pray

That I’d thank God

For his blessed day.

 

The war is over

Did we win

Oh what new world

Did we begin.

 

No one ever imagined

And you can’t imagine now

The pain, the screams, the smell

Blood sweating on my brow

LIke Jesus in that garden

Father take this cup somehow

The pain, the screams the smell

Blood sweating on his brow.

 

The war is over

Did we win

Oh what new world

Did we begin.


ARTS IN FITZROY IN NOVEMBER

THE ARTS IN FITZROY

A few arts events coming up in Fitzroy…

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 6th

MARTYN JOSEPH IN CONVERSATION WITH STEVE STOCKMAN @ 5.30pm

Over for his annual gig at the Real Music Club in the Errigle on Thursday night, Martyn will be conversing about his songwriting and songs…. and performing a good few too! Steve will be asking him about his influences (expect some Bruce Springsteen), how he writes and maybe particularly about the songs on his new record Sanctuary. A treat for fans and a real insightful night of you are a songwriter.

£12 (and gracious concessions)… pay on door but email stoxo@hotmail.com to put your name down…

 

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 12th @ 5.30pm - 7pm

LAUNCH OF JULIE-ANNE RICHMOND ART EXHIBITION

J-A RICHMOND

With wonderful wall space in the newly renovated and extended Fitzroy Church Halls we were keen not to just fill them with second rate posters. The idea is that we will give artists a shop window for their art and change that art every few months. We are delighted to have Julie-Anne Richmond do the first exhibit. Her work is vivid, imaginative, mystical and beautiful. Julie-Anne also does commissions. 

Attend launch and meet the artist for free.

 

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 15th @ 7pm

MEET THE NEIGHBOURS CHAT SHOW

Our Opening Day Festivities for our renovated and extended Fitzroy Halls (Opening Thanksgiving service in the morning at 11!) has its final event with a Meet The Neighbourhood chat show event when we will be meeting Prof. Tony Gallagher (Pro-Vice Chancellor QUB), Ednar Nyakaisiki Adyeeri (Executive Director, Fields Of Life, Kampala) and Steve Cartwright (Wildflower Alley)

There will be music from Chris Wilson, Dave Thompson, Shannon Clements, Caroline Orr and Jonny Fitch.

 

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 22nd @ 7pm

U2’s INNOCENCE & EXPERIENCE TOUR PERFORMED AND UNPACKED

I & E TOUR crosses

The Fitzroy Players put on a night of review and reflection on the U2 concerts at Belfast’s SSE on 18th and 19th. Chris Wilson, Dave Thompson, Peter Greer & Caroline Orr, Jonny Fitch all perform U2 songs and Steve Stockman unpacks the theatre spectacle that this tour is. We are thrilled to have Angela Pancella as a special guest. Angela has contributed to the website atu2.com and will be sharing the differences between the concert in north America and these Belfast shows.

 


JOSH RITTER - SERMON ON THE ROCKS

Ritter Sermon On The Rocks

The first time I heard Josh Ritter was when he supported The Frames at The Limelight in 2001 (read about that gig here). It was not lost on me when I am falling in love with his new record at the same time as Glen Hansard’s brilliant Didn’t He Ramble. It was Hansard who heard Ritter and brought him to Ireland where we have taken him as one of our own. It was not lost on me when I am falling in love with his new record at the same time as Glen Hansard’s brilliant Didn’t He Ramble.

And here’s the thing. That night in 2001 Hansard was all rocked up with a band and Ritter was the troubadour with acoustic quitar and the classic songwriters template. Here in 2015 it is Ritter getting all rocked up and Hansard with the acoustic songwriter strum.

These guys have much in common and their records both come out of similar influences; Dylan, Springsteen, Morrison and Cohen. On these parallel releases though it is Ritter who stretches the form and brings in the most intriguing of sounds. For someone like me who probably checks the lyrics even before I put on the record I have to admit that Sermon On The Rocks turned my default listening on its head. The music is so fresh and imaginative that I was intrigued by the rhythms and grooves and the sharp shiny guitar sounds. 

Producer Trina Showmaker throws all the colours of her palate at these songs, from right at the core of the city rock, to the edge of country, to the middle of country and ends up almost out on the cowboy range. It is intoxicating stuff.

On top of the freshness of sound Ritter weaves his tales. He has a side job as a novelist for goodness sake and has a Flannery O’Connor eye for a character, a story or an eccentric part of the American heartland. Like O’Connor, almost the entire piece is God haunted, though for Ritter the Garden of Eden is more the compass point than Calvary. The Sermon on the Mount, as you might expect from the album’s title, gets sprinkled across it too. These songs don’t ditch the Christianity of Ritter’s Sunday School upbringing but certainly hacks through its hypocrisy and narrow mindedness.

There’s the girl who is sent to Bible School in Missouri to save her from her sins but who seems to have found all the sin she could enjoy (Ready To Get Down). I particularly love:

 

"No "ooh la-las, no "oh, hell yeses"

No "I can't wait 'til I gotta see you agains's"

Just turn the other cheek, take no chances

Jesus hates your high school dances"

 

There’s Henrietta, Indiana and a tale of poverty, alcohol, the Bible and a struggle to live it: -

 

"Blessed be the poor," he said

"Your treasure is on high."

All of Henrietta, Indiana heard me Hallelujah

When I finally saw the devil in his eyes

 

It’s the same small town escape story that Springtseen and, maybe even more so, Steve Earle made their own. Ritter, however, is more nimble of pen and tongue: -

 

At night I leave a bottle on the table

The Bible open to the Sermon on the Mount

Blessed be the poor of Henrietta, Indiana

But happy are the ones that get out

 

The album opens with an apocalyptic tale: - 

 

I didn't come to ask you how you're doing these days

Didn't come to roll no stones away, no

I come to tell you that the end is nigh

I come to prophesy, yeah

 

After travelling through the “back roads and boneyards” of Ohio, Indiana and Missouri feeling “the pulse of the world pounding” and "the pull of the American darkness” Ritter ends in what sounds like a campfire out on the prairie singing about salvation and redemption. It is a thriller and  winner in its sonics, its storytelling and its memorable lines. It does indeed rock. Is indeed a whole lot sermon.

 

Prayin'

I been prayin'

Though will some say my prayers fall on deaf ears

I never doubted you

My man on a horse is here”