God help us

We need leaders

You ask us to pray for our leaders

And we have

But we wonder if you are listening…


Whether in London

Or in Belfast

We shake our heads in disbelief

We would laugh uproariously 

If it wasn’t so sad and serious and tragic

Damaging mental health

Physical health

Care for the sick

Costing lives.


We have people at wits end

Wondering if can they feed their children

And not the historically poor

But the working middle classes

With heat or food dilemmas

And what food they can afford.


Meanwhile our political leaders,

Playing games for self and votes and seats and power

And seemingly losing every game they play

Seem bereft of wisdom, judgement, vision, credibility

Or care for all of those at wits end.


God help us

Find leaders

Who are compassionate and pragmatic

Who love neighbours as they do themselves

Who serve humbly for the marginalised

Who give the hungry something to eat, 

Who give the thirsty a drink

Who invite in the stranger

Who cloth the naked

Who look after the sick

And visit the prisoner

Who will let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream.


God help us

Please be listening.




Beautiful Creeslough

We are speechless

Feel useless

But we share in your grief


That our share is minimal

Compared to those who loved closest and most.



In such quiet

Could loud be so LOUD

In such softness

Could hard be so HARD

In such idyllic

Could hell be so HELLISH

We pray...


We pray that somehow in your sudden grief

In the depth of your mourning

As you continue to carry your trauma

That you would meet someone who understands


Not way out in space

But who came near

Lived among us

Wept in heart break

And in whose death

Experienced unfairness

Someone who is still near

And here by his Spirit

Offers empathy


Peace beyond understanding

Who invites you Creeslough

Beautiful Creeslough

“To approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that you may receive mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)



THE PROPHET’S SPEECH (From “Garden To The City”)

(My Belfast paraphrase of a Doug Gay original based in Glasgow…) 


I saw a vision – it was Thursday at eleven o’clock in the morning.

I was standing Divis Mountain, looking down over the city

And the cold, blue autumn sky broke open over my head

And the spirit of God breathed on my eyes and my eyes were opened:

I saw Belfast, the holy city coming down out of heaven

Shining like a rare jewel, sparkling like clear water in the eye of the sun

And all the sickness was gone from the city

And there were no suburbs or schemes

No difference between Malone Road, Lenadoon and Tullycarnet.


I saw the Lagan running with the water of life

As bright as crystal

As clear as glass

And the children of Belfast swimming in it.

And the Spirit showed me the tree of life

Growing in Botanic Gardens.


I looked out 

And there were no more homeless people dying

There were no women working the streets

There were no junkies up the alley ways

HIV and AIDS were things of the past

There were no more racist attacks

No more attacks on gay people

No more rapists

No more stabbings

No more suicides

No more so called “punishment beatings”

No more Protestant and Catholics

No more sectarian songs and graffiti

No more effigies on bonfires

Because there was no more hate

And I saw women walking safe at nights

And the men were full of passion and gentleness

And none of the children were abused

Because the people’s sex was full of justice and joy.


I saw an old woman throw her head back and laugh like a young girl

And when the sky closed back her laughter rang in my head for days and days

And would not go away.


This is what I saw, looking over Samson and Goliath

Looking up from the city of death

And I knew then that there would be a day of resurrection

And I believe that there will be a day of resurrection.


Margy to Sea

Let me lead you

Beside quiet waters

A walk by the sea

Or through the hills

A boat on a lake

By the beauty of rivers and mountains

Put the smart phone down

Put your tired feet up

Breathe in




Beside quiet waters


Beside quiet waters

Do not ripple the calm

By reading your messages

Opening emails

Or checking your diary

Do not agitate the peace

By reading books about vocation

Facebooking every photograph

Or writing blogs like these

Let me lead you

Beside quiet waters.


Ukraine On The Ground

(I wrote this prayer from little bits of news coming out of Ukraine through prayer requests from members of Josiah Venture on the ground... I used it at an Ecumenical Ash Wednesday service in Fitzroy)


On the ground NOW

Ukrainian citizens cowering in underground car parks

Seeking shelter from Russian attacks

Lord may the word become flesh

To move among them.


On the ground NOW

Teenagers, young men and woman, older men and women

Volunteering to defend their country against Russia

With no previous military experience

Merciful Emmanuel, God be with them


On the ground NOW

Women and children on buses across Ukraine

Seeking safe routes to safer places

May you be their refuge and strength

And an ever present help in their troubled journeys


On the ground NOW

Refugees in long queues at border posts

Or already over the border

Leaving home with nothing at all

Lord may they today be delivered from evil

May those who take them in, have daily bread to give them


On The Ground NOW

NGO’s Gathering local information

Imagining how to deploy the aid

May we send what they need

May that help as circumstances change

Lord do do immeasurably more 

than all we ask or imagine, 

according to your power that is at work within us


On the ground NOW

International leaders

Imagining, planning how to end this war

How to put pressure on Putin to draw back

Without escalating the violence and deaths

God we pray you would bless the Peacemakers

That the baby Jesus would pour out

Peace on earth and good will to every human soul.


On the ground NOW

We gather here in safety to worship you

May our gathering and our praise and our prayers

And our visual commitment tonight to follow you

Somehow blend into your will for our world

So that swords would become ploughs

Spears would become pruning hooks

Tanks would become tractors

Bomb silos would instead be filled with grain

May your Kingdom come in Ukraine, its surrounding borders

And all across the earth as it is in heaven.


Pope screen St Annes

photo: Neil Craigan


This is the script of my introduction and words at the opening event of the 10th Anniversary 4 Corners Festival 2022

For years it has been a standing joke in our planning group… Sure we’ll get The Archbishop of Canterbury or Pope Francis for that. To have Justin Welby closing our Festival next Sunday is a dream. Austen Ivereigh was as close to Pope Francis that we could get. His biographer and co-worker on Pope Francis’s last book let US Dream which I loved. 

When Austen said he could get us and then did get us a message from the Pope we were beyond our imaginings. So tonight as we begin our 10th Festival let us hear from Pope Francis…


WOW! What I picked up most from this message is Pope Francis's humility. He asks us to pray for him. So in a moment we will.

As well as marking our 10th Anniversary today marks the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday. We wanted to mark that. Anniversaries are never easy in Northern Ireland.

On Friday night at a Mass for the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday Bishop Donal McKeown said:

“But there is another way. It seeks to acknowledge the past but to have compassion and forgiveness for those who were caught up in systems and situations that they can now look at with other eyes. There is a grace-filled art in forgiving and remembering.”

This morning Rev Dr David Bruce, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Tweeted:

"We lament the violent deaths of Bloody Sunday today. The very possibility of reconciliation in light of such deeds, might seem to be beyond us. Yet the gospel calls us to live beyond ourselves. Bless these and all grieving families, to whom we send love in Christ's name today. 

After I pray we will have the first song from our musicians. Caroline Orr, Peter Greer and Norman McKinney… At one of our first events Pope Francis was announced as Pope. Caroline sang a couple of Chriaty Moore that evening and she will later on… brings it all full circle.

Lord in this 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday

We stop to remember the wounds of Derry today

The bullets of that day and the lives lost

The bullets that have continued to fly through these 50 years

The bullets still travelling in hearts, minds and souls

We pray for Derry today

And we pray for every other murderous event of our Troubles

And for all who were lost

And for all who have grieved

And for all who continue to grieve

May the Holy Spirit be their comforter

May you send the peace that Jesus said was beyond our understanding

Peace on our streets…. Peace in all our hearts

Lord inspire us to live beyond ourselves to bring reconciliation in a fractured society

And give us grace-filled art in the ways of forgiving and remembering.

Lord do more than we can imagine or dream


And Lord

Pope Francis has asked us to pray for him

And so we do

We pray for Pope Francis

And the Archbishop Of Canterbury

And indeed the 4 leaders of our traditional denominations here in Ireland

Father reveal to them the height and depth and breadth of your love

Jesus may they know you and your revolutionary ways and lead us into authentic discipleship

Holy Spirit in your Pentecost power be their companion, their counsellor, their comforter and their courage to prophetically lead us to bring your will on earth as it is in heaven.



Mercy Now

I created this prayer song and liturgy for a BBC Radio 4 Service that Fr Martin Magill and I did on January 23, 2022. In their infinite wisdom and in my opinion lack of taste and grounding in the real world, Radio 4 cut it out. I then used it in Fitzroy for our Sunday Service. At least I have a say there!

READ: LUKE 6: 35-36

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


NO… listen… these prayers will not make sense if you don’t listen…



Lord we gather your Churches across the world

On the Week of Prayer For Christian Unity 

Across the miles

Across the ages

Across the denominations

Across the experiences of the week past

The anxieties and anticipations of the one ahead

And Lord… 

We could use a little mercy now


We think of our families

Ill, waiting for texts, facing tough decisions, grieving

Lord our families

Could use a little mercy now


We think of our Churches

Lord we confess we are not who we should be

On this Week of Prayer For Christian Unity 

We confess we are divided

A result of our theological arrogance and lack of mercy

We have paralysed ourselves as conduits of peace makers

Our witness has been weak, at times hurting others

Pushing away, rather than gathering in

We long for your forgiveness and your Holy Spirit’s oneness

Lord our churches 

Could use a little mercy now


We think of our country

This pandemic has taken a toll

We are at the end of our tether

And at times our leaders have been found lacking

Here in NI we seem to be as polarised as ever

Every single policy seems to divide us

Lord our country 

Could use a little mercy now


We think of planet earth

It is your art

So often we bask in its awe and wonder

Our favourite breath taking scenery

Yet, most days we our complicit in its destruction

The clock ticks on an environmental catastrophe

Lord our planet

Could use a little mercy now



Stumbling and tumbling after Jesus

Doing what we don’t want to do

Not doing what we long to do

Lord we ourselves

Could use a little mercy now


In Jesus name 



COP prayers

Lord, we worship you

Creator of the world

Sustainer of the Universe

The Lagan Towpath, kingfishers and seals

Creator of the Antrim coast

The beaches and ocean

The headlands and forests

The 40 shades of green

Creator of the Mournes

The vistas of mountain peaks

The views from there.

God, thank you for the beauty of your art.


Lord we ask for your forgiveness

For how careless we have been with our Father’s art

For how reckless we have been

For how we have turned our stewardship vocation

Into a miss-use and abuse of creation for our own ends

For the greed that thinks only of self and more

For the comforts we hold too dear at the cost of the ripping up of your art

For working against you rather than with you for climate justice

For the state in which your art now lies

Lord we ask for your forgiveness


And Lord, John tells us that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”


So do more than forgive us Lord

Purify us from all unrighteousness

This particular week 

Show us our unrighteousness in relation to creation

Help us see

What has been done

What is being done

And what we can do to repent and transform and change

Lord set us free from our greed

From our diminished theology

From our violence to the earth

Set us free to be those who care for the world of our father’s hand

Who care for a creation that also groans for its full salvation

Set us free to make decisions 

In our lives

In our homes

In our places of work

In our cities to halt the environmental catastrophe

Set us free to allow political leaders meeting in Glasgow

To make decisions that might make our lives less comfortable

Less wealthy

That they might save our planet


Lord, start with us not the leaders

May we be the custodians of your art that you created us to be

And Jesus redeemed us to be,





photo: Nursing Times


(as our world stutters into yet another difference Coronavirus season, I prayed this prayer in Fitzroy)


Lord we thank you for being in Church again

For seeing one another

For feeling the communal sense of belief


We thank you for the vaccines that made this possible


Yet Lord we live through uncertainty, danger, fear

It is a stuttering start to the church year

Things seem less locked down

But we are not back to any kind of old normal

As we stutter through yet another new unique season

Be with us - Emmanuel


Be with our medics, all who work in hospital

And take the brunt

Who’ve been through the trauma

Who carry the wounds

Who are perhaps a little demoralised

Be with them Lord - Emmanuel


Be with our teachers

Trying to do school in a mad environment

Suffering the pingdemic

Trying to manage the fluctuating classes

Not sure who has been taught what

Trying to me more than teachers to our children and young people

Be with them - Emmanuel


Our youth and children 

Trying to go through adolescence in strange days

Trying to shape their future in uncertainty

Missing out on life memories

And rites of passage

Be with them - Emmanuel


Be with our students just off to University

As they our crammed into halls

If they have halls

As they try to make friends behind masks

As no one has experiences what they are dealing with

Be with them - Emmanuel


Be with our business men and women

So much uncertainty there

As furlough ends

As apprentices haven’t been trained

As exit from the EU adds to the confusion

Be with them - Emmanuel


Lord be with all of us

In our more stressed family lives

As we love

And grieve

And go through illness

And worry about getting or spreading the virus


Lord may Love thy neighbour be a radical daily act


But Lord give us patience

Patience with each other

Patience with ourselves

Patience with society

Patience Lord to take a day at a time


Be with us Lord - Emmanuel




Climate Sunday
Good morning Fitzroy,
As we begin our prayers this morning it is wonderful to be entering into this season of creation. A season observed by churches all around the world.
A time over these next 2 months for us to intentionally focus on the incredible world that we are an integral part of.
A time for gratitude, lamenting, forgiving and petitioning for change.
This afternoon people of faith gathered in person and online at Glasgow cathedral at the heart of the city where the UN climate talks will take place in November. We gathered to pray for our climate, commit to personal action, and speak to politicians about the need for government action.
Let us pray
We give thanks for all creation full of divine energy and sacred mystery.
All creation sings of you. Nurture in us loves for our planet and commitment to live differently.
We lament the role we have played as partakers in the reckless use of resources. We lament that as people of faith we have not spoken up sooner and led the way in caring for creation.
Forgive us for our greed and indifference and may we now recognise our place as part of not apart from creation.
We pray for imaginative, innovative, and creative solutions to our climate emergency and for all those working for change in everything from Carbon catchers to sustainable cars.
We pray for all those of us petitioning for change. May we as campaigners speak out in wisdom with conviction and compassion.
We pray for today’s climate Sunday service, God use this time to challenge and strengthen those of us who are already caring for creation and may it be a time of inspiration where others will be enthused to participate in the restoration of earth.
Please join with me in saying this ecological take on the Lord’s Prayer. The words will now be on screen
Our father who art in creation,
Hallowed be the world,
May sustainability come,
Thy will be done through us in restoring earth.
Give the poorest this day their daily bread,
And forgive us our sins against earth as we forgive ourselves for what we have done.
Lead us not into complacency,
But deliver us from greed,
Thine is creation, revealing your glory, forever and ever Amen.