This was my Thought For The Day on BBC Radio Ulster back on October 17, 2012 (my daughter Jasmine's 12th birthday!). When Baumgartner was used as an answer in Pointless I thought it was a perfect time to reblog...


Felix Baumgartner’s sky dive from 128,000 feet reaching
a speed of 834mph had been the talk of the world the week he dived.

Some had been excited that there are still frontiers for humans to explore and conquer, crazy stunts still left for someone to do for the first time. The sheer courage has impressed many.

What caught my attention was Felix’s imagination. Somewhere over coffee Felix had to come up with this incredible idea. He had to believe he could go where no human had gone before. He had to think he could actually
carry it out.

Imagination is the birth of everything. I sometimes wonder when God imagined green... fields and forests and blue... skies and sea.

John Lennon famously asked us to imagine that there was no heaven. He said it would be easy if we tried. I couldn’t agree more. Believing there is no heaven is easy. Yet, surely there is a flaw in being a dreamer if you imagine nothing there.

I always think that something far more difficult would be to imagine that there is a heaven and then trying to bring some of its realities to earth.

Imagine if the meek were blessed.

Imagine if humans loved their neighbours...or be even more daringly... loved their enemies.

Imagine if the first in our world were last and the last in our world were the first.

Imagine all of that happening here in earth.

These are the things that Jesus came to help us imagine not only in his words but in the ways that he interacted with others.

So today over coffee what will we talk about. Where will our imaginations take us. Could a really short sentence like “I think I’d
like to sky dive from 24 miles above the earth” change the world, for
ourselves, our neighbours and even literally... the world.

Maybe it is, “I am going to imagine being friends again.”

“I am going to imagine that habit dealt with”

“I am going to imagine clean water and education for every child in the developing world”

“I am going to imagine the peace walls, in Belfast, removed”

“I am going to imagine poverty being made history.”

I am going to imagine... It is what Jesus was on about when he taught his disciples to pray “thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as in heaven.”

Ah, Mr Lennon, the need to imagine heaven to bring peace on earth. That’s a sky dive! What if?


NY 23
"May we rock with raucous revelry
When we're touched by love and hope
And may we roll into irrational resilience
When changes compel us to cope


"Happy" New Year doesn’t cut it. It lacks. It is too wispy. Shallow even. It all depends on the right lining up of happenings.

Life doesn’t often line up. At least not the way we long for it. Oh there will be happy moments in 2023. 

Your team will win. 

You will get a nice surprise. 

There might be a romantic sunset kiss. 

You will read that stimulating book on a warm beach. 

The recipe will work perfectly and everyone will say so. 

That ski slope will be the perfect speed. 

A five iron to three feet. 

A wedding. 

A new baby. 

I wish you all these kinds of happy moments.

BUT… I yearn to wish you more than that.

There will be moments in 2023 that will be far from happy. 

Life will not be lined up. 

Indeed it will be cracked, anxious and sore. 

Finding yourself on the outside. 

The betrayal. 

The broken relationship. 

The lost job. 

The natural disaster. 

The tragic news headline. 

The shock diagnosis. 

The long surgery and precarious aftermath. 

The death of a loved one. 

The ongoing grief. 

2023 will not be all happy. It will have its sadness. It is into all of the blend and blur of life’s twists and turns and rollercoaster of ups and downs that I want to find a word to greet you with. Those might be the most crucial moments. 

I am dissatisfied with "Happy" New Year. It will not cut it. It is not robust enough. Not deep enough. It is just not enough.

What is enough? 

My biggest lesson and most preached mantra in recent years has been that WITH is the most important word in theology. That the BEING WITH of the baby Jesus is what God is all about. Emmanuel - God with us.

May you be loved in the New Year. 

May you have someone to cheer your team winning with in the New Year.

May you have someone to taste that perfect recipe with in the New Year.

May you have an ear to listen to your innermost in the New Year.

May you have a hand to hold no matter what in the New Year. 

May you be loved in the New Year in the happy moments and all the rest of the time too!

May it be an Emmanuel New Year!

"May we rock with raucous revelry
When we're touched by love and hope
And may we roll into irrational resilience
When changes compel us to cope


Bert Funeral

(my script to day for my Uncle Bert's Tribute at his Thanksgiving Service)


Robert McMeechan Stockman was born on November 17th 1932 to Bobby and Annie Stockman, followed 2 years later by a brother Samuel. He was Bertie to Iris, dad to Alan, brother Bert to Sam and Uncle Bert to me.

The cottage in Galgorm was the centre of the universe and there were tall scary tales told of a happy adventurous childhood. Bert falling through ice is a legendary story and perhaps most frightening one on the edge of my memory. 

Both he and Sam climbing on a parked delivery cart outside the cottage when the horse bolted another scary one, Sam taking a jump before Bridgend Bridge and Bert hanging on until the horse turned and ran out of steam on a hill. 

I can only imagine his dear mother’s worry because as my carer as a child she was a woman who might called over protective. I am surprised the boys were ever allowed out again but the Maine River and the Castle grounds were ever a fun, if precarious playground.

Vocationally Bertie was a carpenter and worked in the Braid Water Mill where brother Sam was an accountant. Working there he met Iris Cherry from an Old Testament tribe from Carnlea. After they got married on St Patrick’s Day 1966 Iris dragged Bert away from home, ten feet over the wall where he built a house for them.

From then it has always been Bert and Iris. They were mostly together. 56 years. I’d like to take this opportunity to thanks Iris for how she kept those wedding vows of ‘in sickness and in health’. For her love for Uncle Bert and indeed my own parents in their later life. Bert and Irish were my rock when dad went into care. Iris you have been amazing. Thank you. 

My earliest memories are the very happiest times with my Uncle Bert. I remember sitting with him on the foundations of that house. I remember his MG car and his love of Leeds United who were good then. Uncle Bert was the first person that I knew that I wanted to always be with. He had a posture that was warm and humorous. As a child you assume that your parents love you. Uncle Bert was the first person that I knew loved me. Yes, he probably spoiled me!

In most of those early memories I picture Bert in his work clothes. He had the coolest pair of carpenter dungarees. It had a slot in the leg for his carpenters ruler. When you are 2 or 3 that ruler is magic in itself never mind then putting it in your trousers. Since as long as I remember I have been obsessed with denims. I have worn them almost every single day since I left home. It’s why I had to give up golf. My only concession to dressing up is wearing black denim. I got married in denim and am wearing denim today. This week I trawled that all back to Uncle Bert’s dungarees. To being like him.

In 1973 Alan arrived and Lassie! Into my teens I loved the Sunday afternoon tradition to visit Galgorm and spend time with Bert, Iris and Alan. Iris made porridge for my cousin Paul Reid and I many a Sunday.

Bert took a career change and became a teacher. I remember thinking that was a brave move. Again admiration. I think he did his teaching practice in the Academy and I again loved having him around even for just a wee while. He would eventually spend most of his teaching career in Ballee High School where he’d be a colleague of my cousin Sharon. 

In retirement, Bertie got a new lease of adventurous life. Cousins in America the result of the amazing Grannie Lizzie’s three families found Polly Bragg and Jim Nixon enticing him across sea and land. With Carol and Davy Montgomery, Bert and Irish loved their road trips meeting family and seeing the sights. Bert loved showing me the photos and telling me all about the family tree, some we got to spend time with in Seattle when we were on sabbatical. 

The research took a turn when the aforementioned Granny Lizzie was discovered to have been the mother not sister of one of the leaders of the tree. A child out of wedlock in Ahoghill in the middle of the 19th century would have been quite the story. Uncle Bert wasn’t sure that I the minister in the family should hear the story but Lizzie in a strange has became my hero. At this particular time of year I think of her and the gossip she had to suffer and it helps me understand some of what Mary was going through in Nazareth. Different circumstances of course but same gossip. 

I got a message just yesterday from one of my congregation telling me his sister worked with Bertie in Ballee and remembered him as a lovely man. Without question that is what My uncle Bert was. A lovely man. A gentle man. I never heard of him saying a bad word about anyone. 

He was very understated in his life. I saw more elaborate houses built in the 60s than the one he built. No big fuss when he turned 90 last week, just a Chinese with Iris. You wouldn’t say extravagant.

BUT these last days I have disagreed with myself. Bertie Stockman was understated in the right things and extravagant in the right things. The apostle Paul speaks of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”  as the fruit of the Spirit. My uncle Bert was all of those to me. I experienced them in his company. Extravagant goodness of personal faith lived understatedly. 

On Saturday I got to say goodbye to my Uncle Bert. We didn’t use the words but I think we both knew. I read Isaiah 43 with him:


But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. 

For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life. 

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;


I told Bert how I had stopped wishing people a Happy New Year because God doesn’t promise to fix everything but he does promise to be with us whatever we go through. I told him that I hoped he knew God with him here in his hospital bed. He whispered “I do”. As we said goodbye I leaned in and said I love you Uncle Bert”. "Me too” he whispered. I’ll be ever grateful for those moments BUT even more grateful for the 61 years of influence and love of my Uncle Bert. 



After his family had laid Ivan Stockdale to rest yesterday morning, hundreds of us met in First Antrim Presbyterian Church to give thanks for a life that had touched us all very deeply.

I was assistant minister in First Antrim from 1986 to 1991 and just as Rev Dr John Dixon mentored me in how to be a minister, Stocker mentored me in youth work. Indeed, I cannot imagine that when I moved on from Antrim in 1991 I would have done so to become Youth Development Officer for PCI in the Republic Of Ireland had it not been my five years with Stocker. 

By the time I got to Antrim Stocker was running a youth club and mentoring leaders like I had simply never seen before. There were hundreds through Friday night club. At the end of the year there was a ten day camp. He was 50 when I arrived but there was no stopping him and after a short break, actually while I was there, he returned and was still going to the annual Youth Club camp into his 80s!

Those camps were memory makers and also had an an enormous impact on young people. I am not sure my boss JD was keen to lose me for 10 days a year to go to camp but Stocker convinced him and I had the utter privilege of being at Teignmouth in 1988, Cromer in 1989, Edinburgh in 1990 and Bournemouth in 1991. I spoke at the first and last, fell in love with Janice at the second and am still feeling wet through from the third. 

Speaking to Ivan’s family yesterday, I came to reflect that I had never heard him say a bad word about anybody nor had I ever heard anyone say a bad word about him. There are very few people in your life that you can say that about.

I will always remember him as a man who held a strong evangelical faith but held it without judgement and a love that was not just passive but dynamically active. His house was open to whoever and the whoevers were often the marginalised young people of Antrim who needed some love and belonging. No one was a hopeless case to Ivan and his wife Heather. They had such deep compassion and patience. They were great listeners. Everyone was invited into the love of Jesus.

I preached last Sunday about how John tells us that “the word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood”. I shared how an image dominated age means that anyone under 50 probably uses the subjective side of their brain much more than they do the objective. That means that people need to relationally experience God’s love more than they need to hear it preached or read it on a page. Word made flesh. Less words, more grace. Stocker was a perfect example of the skill of this modern day, and actually Jesus day, sharing of God’s amazing grace. 

My favourite story is one that Stocker loved telling about me. It was  Boxing Day 1989. Youth Club decided to have a game of Rugby. I was still pretty close to my peak athleticism and played scrum half on one side. At a scrum we were almost across the line when I picked up the hall and darted the three yards to score. As I went over the line, Stocker recalls with my face beaming, a 54 year old man hit me like a train and all was lost. He was so competitive and loved that moment. He told it with eyes glinting and that Stocker chuckle. I was telling it to his grand nephew James and grand niece Amy. James then told me that Stocker had told him it not once but twice a few weeks back!

It’s thirty years, half my life ago, since I worked with Ivan Stockdale. It was a wonderfully long day yesterday chatting to all of those in First Antrim who I hadn’t seen since. My father-in-law Bryan was Ivan’s oldest friend. His sister is a special member of Fitzroy. I love all the connections but the greatest will be remembering him vividly sitting beside a troubled young person on a Friday night sharing that deep non judgemental love. That example of Jesus, the word made flesh, is what I am hearing as I lean into this adventurous and committed life to find clues as I continue to live my own.


Stocki  Marty and Justin

photo Bernie Brown


It did not seem over profound, as is the style of the man, but Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury preached an awesome sermon at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Give me a minute and we will come to that.

This past February we had the privilege of having Justin Welby at the 4 Corners Festival. I was given the not at all onerous task of entertaining the Archbishop for a few hours.

We called in at the Dock Cafe in the Titanic Quarter. As we did a customer behind us recognised Justin. We were ushered to our reserved seats and had some lunch. As we were leaving I lost himself but when he caught up with me he told me how he had tracked down the customer who came in behind us. The man was struggling with a crisis of faith and Justin had given him a chapter in Luke to reflect on and prayed with him.

We moved on. The 4 Corners Festival Knitting event was taking place in Fitzroy. No one was expecting such a visit but when I walked in with the Archbishop of Canterbury one of my own congregation went as giddy as a 16 year old in 1964 might have gone a Beatle just walked in! She was passed herself. As we left Justin told me that his book about Christmas that Fitzroy had sent all of our congregation during lockdown in 2020 had been what she used through the grief of losing her husband. Hence the excitement of being able to thank him.

We finally reached the 4 Corners Festival Wonderful Wander. At its end while having coffee a former politician wanted to meet the Archbishop. He then thanked him for being a consistent opposition to the Tory government when opposition seemed weak or non existent.

Having finally left the Archbishop to his evening accommodation I surmised on the way home how in just two hours he had without any fuss or contrived effort been a pastor, prophet and evangelist in the most ordinary everyday ways.

I was drawn back to that Saturday afternoon as I surmised his sermon at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. Again, in the most ordinary of ways he was pastoral, prophetic and evangelistic. It was a sermon that drew near and reached far... very far!

The Archbishop showed his pastoral sensitivity as he brought his words close to those sitting in the very seats in front of him as he spoke pastorally, praying that God would heal the grief of the Royal Family and fill their void with happy memories.

Looking up and metaphorically across the world, to those world leaders down the Abbey, he then reached as wide as a preacher can to the ends of the earth. Beginning with The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death...” He then pointed out Queen Elizabeth’s radical reign of sacrificial service. Those who serve, "will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten." He wasn't missing and hitting the walls of the Abbey here. Hundreds of heads of state got the preach!

The recurring thread holding it all together was Queen Elizabeth’s faith. Knowing who you follow is crucial suggested Welby. The who for Queen Elizabeth was Jesus, the way, the truth and the life as Prime Minister Liz Truss had just read from John 14. That faith brings hope as the Archbishop put it “The pattern for all who serve God – famous or obscure, respected or ignored – is that death is the door to glory.”

I surmised as a preacher the opportunity that such a sermon at such a funeral offers. A hurting family mourning a matriarch - be pastoral. The opportunity that so few ever get, world leaders are in the room - be prophetic. The entire world is watching - be missional.

And I was back walking alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury at the 4 Corners Festival in February. Remembering in action what I now heard in words. Powerful.



The mixed up confusion of the Irish story opened another chapter this week when the new King Charles III visited as the country mourned his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

It is agreed in most quarters that Sinn Fein played a public relations blinder. Using all their intentional charm Michelle O’Neill and Alex Maskey came across as King Charles’ new best friends, laughing and joking even at Jeffrey Donaldson’s expense as Jeffrey waited patiently to shake hands of a King he is supposed to be the loyal subject of.

Looking at the colder, more dutiful perhaps, engagements between Unionists and Royalty, there was a sense that Unionism is so out of step with 2022. 

Since Queen Elizabeth’s prophetic visit to Dublin in 2011, there have been many more symbolic gestures where the Royals have given clear indication of their desire for reconciliation in Ireland. This is a seismic statement of forgiveness in spite of the deep pain that they experienced with the loss of their beloved Lord Mountbatten. 

This is an intentional forgiveness. This is a hard thing. The Queen herself said, “It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.” Forgiveness needs the strength of God too. Such forgiveness is the central truth of the Gospel. 

This Royal mission has been visible for over a decade at least and yet what surprises me is that Unionists and Loyalists seem to be completely out of step with it. It is one thing having a wonderful gable wall sized mural of our monarch in a Loyalist area. It is quite another thing to be loyal in following her lead, doing as she does. 

That lack of loyalty to the Queen’s agenda is one of the reasons that Unionism seems out of step, out of time. A lack of grace and forgiveness and a continued attitude of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is not where the vast majority of the wider society is at.

If a Border Poll happens, and I am not sure it’ll be soon, then this is where Unionism needs to change. They need to find some of Sinn Fein’s political charm, to find warm engagement with those outside their own cohort that they will need to convince.

Sinn Fein need not cheekily grin and be complacent. There is no question that they did not put a foot wrong during King Charles III's visit and Alex Maskey's generous speech of condolences was a rub your eyes moment of change. Though the charm is noted, and they have reached across more bridges than most Unionists, they have work to do too. I have sat in a University Lecture Theatre and listened to Mary Lou McDonald try to convince Unionists how welcome they will be in a new Ireland and then days later watched her stand by an ‘English Out Of Ireland’ banner. Like murals on walls, actions speak louder than words!

And the big step. Forgiveness? As British Royals reach across the chasm of centuries of killing one another to seek new relationships with genuine gestures of forgiveness can Republicans start forgiving too. There have been more anti British, anti English and anti Colonial moments than Mary Lou’s banner. 

Forgiveness and reconciliation are the words that the British Royals, particularly Queen Elizabeth II, have purposely placed into our broken but beautiful place. The best way to honour her legacy would be to be about making her prayers for us all to come true. It might be where both Sinn Fein and Unionists need to find "the power of God's love" to help in any Border Polls!


Elizabeth in State

My mother died around lunch time on a Tuesday and we buried her on Thursday afternoon. I remember in my naivety saying that that was good because it meant that I could therefore preach on Sunday. 

Both my wife and my Clerk Of Session quickly reasoned that I had no idea about grief and that I should not only take Sunday off but the Sunday afterwards as well. I was glad of their wisdom and did not make the same mistake when my father passed away back in April.

Having experienced grief and understanding the need for time I have been surmising how we have treated the Royal Family and particularly the new King at this sad time of mourning Queen Elizabeth II. 

This afternoon in St Anne’s Cathedral, in Belfast, King Charles looked weary. I felt for him and said a wee prayer that he wouldn’t dose off. I saw Camilla glancing at him, a little concerned. 

Grief in itself is heavy and exhausting. Yet, in such grief, since his mother passed away King Charles has been quickly on television, being ushered in as King and then off back to Edinburgh for a Church service after a long walk up the Royal Mile. Today it was Belfast and he’s already flown back to meet his mother’s body arriving at Buckingham Palace tonight.

Now I know that there is protocol and that it all goes back centuries. However, there is time for change and I would suggest as a pastor that this is bad practice and perhaps a bad example to the nation. 

It would not have taken much for the nation to give the new King and his family a few days before all of the protocol kicked in. take the duty off his shoulders while he carries his mother's death in his heart. Just a few days to come to terms with what has happened to them before they think ahead to what they have to do next. 

Grief takes a long time and cannot be scheduled but those first few days are so important and difficult. All I am surmising is that we find a more modern and humane protocol at the death of a monarch than the one that we have moved into this time around.



Today is Suicide Awareness Day and two things fill my thoughts.

My first thoughts are with dear friends who lost their amazing son to suicide back in March. Without warning, without seeming reason, Daniel took his own life. To sense the daily pain of Daniel’s loss in the depths of his parent’s hearts has been heart breaking.

My second thought takes me to Rome. I am standing beside The Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica. 

My friend, Rab, had spoken to me about it a few years ago. Rab would describe himself as “relatively agnostic but interested in many aspects across religions” so when he shared with me how taken he was with the Pieta I took note and cannot thank him enough.

His wife was investigating the Basilica and Rab kind of drifted over and caught sight of the Pieta. It is the work of Michelangelo. A beautiful 15th century sculpture in marble, the Pieta depicts Mary holding her dead son, Jesus, in her arms. It moved Rab to tears. 

My experience was similar. We had met Pope Francis earlier in the day. I needed time to surmise that and all the things that he said. We went through the Vatican Museum and much as it was impressive I was still pondering the events in Pope Francis’ private library. 

Janice went off to marvel at the art and beauty of St. Peter’s. I was at a loose end and remembered - Rab’s Pieta. I found my good friend Fr Martin Magill and asked about it. He took me over to it and it was that same wow factor as Rab had experienced. 

We encouraged Janice over to join us and all three of us stood and wept. 

The theologically squeamish might shout, “It is not in the Bible.” No, it is not. That does not mean that between the cross where Mary stood watching her son die and the tomb he was laid in that she didn’t cradle his body.

However, fact is not the point. This is not theological. This is artistic. Whatever the facts, Mary did watch her soon die. She went through her valley of the shadow. She experienced that trauma. Michelangelo expresses that experience of Mary’s; beautifully, poignantly, painfully.

For Janice and I we were remembering our dear friends, Daniel’s parents. It is not the order of things for a parent to cradle their child’s body. Our friends experienced it. They said that they could have held him forever. Michelangelo captured their heartache.

Fr Martin recognised who we would be particularly thinking of. He added his own experience of far too many young suicides in west Belfast. Indeed just last night we attended a concert of Celtic Psalms performed by Kiran Wimberly and The McGrath Family, in St John’s on the Falls Road, in aid of the work going on in West Belfast to help families who have experienced loss and those who might feel suicidal.

All of our tears, as we stood before The Pieta, were deeply felt. Fr Martin suggested a prayer and I prayed for my friends and then all the other parents who had experienced what Mary went through. The love and sorrow that mingles. Again, this is something of the Gospel story that understands our humanity and our brokenness.

Let us today remember those who have taken their own lives and those they have left behind and make a contribution towards Suicide Awareness.


Donate to Suicide Awareness in memory of our friend Daniel HERE


Stocki beach with Jed

I thought I had lost my MOJO.

During the last year I had wondered if my days at Fitzroy were numbered. I wasn't sure what else I could do but I couldn't let a community of faith down by just going through the routines for 5 or 6 years. 

Maybe thirteen years was enough? Maybe I had given my all? Maybe all my ideas were done? It was a shadowy night of vocational soul.

Even returning last week. I remember the days that my last walk on Ballycastle beach was an evening of head bulging imagination and heart bursting excitement to get back. This year no so and I found myself scrambling for ways I could profitably see through my time.

Then... Then in one hour everything changed. I was in my late late night blog writing, imagining time. I started jotting down thoughts and after I had filled a page the head was bulging again, the heart bursting. The MOJO was back. Just like that.

How? I think I realised as I climbed the stairs for bed that I had missed the Covid impact on my vocation. It has disorientated me. I was a little lost. For the past two Septembers Stockman's imagining were curtailed by restrictions. Why plan? Nothing might happen. My vocational strengths and adrenaline release was clogged up with restrictions.

Now that I was much freer of restrictions, the MOJO ignited once more. Phew!

Covid is still there. It is not as dangerous as it was but some friends have suffered with it and many are suffering long after they had it. It is still serious inconvenience. It can cause people to miss tests and surgery and very important family and work events. Yet, there is. different sensibility of liberty to this September than the last two..

However, even in our freedom I would call for caution. Covid has had its impact. We have no idea how? I had no idea about its role on my loss of MOJO. My job was so different in these past two years. Everyone's has been. Make no rash decisions based on them. It will take time for us all to untangle the knots of Covid and get back to a new normal. Let us be gentle on ourselves and one another as we do.




A service to reflect on the pain of the Troubles and hope for the future.

St. Anne's Cathedral

June 21, 2022 - 11.30-12.30


A number of years ago Healing Through Remembering created the idea of a Day Of Private Reflection on June 21st, the longest day, every year to honour the people who were killed in the conflict in and about Northern Ireland or affected by it in any way.

This year all are welcome to join us for "Courage to Lament", an ecumenical service at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. Using the biblical practice of lament, this service will offer a space to reflect on the conflict in and about Northern Ireland and the future that is before us. It will seek to create a space to acknowledge our deep pain and hurt, to reflect on what we might have done or might still do, and to commit ourselves to ensure such suffering and loss never happens again.