Saturday, February 25, 2017

St. Mary's Church

 On the Saturday of our Spring Break, we rode in the morning then headed into Chirk to see the sights. Our first stop of the day was St. Mary's Church -- a medieval church on the edge of town. It was simple but beautiful. 

 The nice thing about most of the churches in Ireland, and wales and England too are open for visitors. Most have a section near the entrance for donations and also little knickknacks or jewelry you can buy to help fund the church's upkeep. 
 Beautiful stained glass windows...
 ... portrayed Biblical stories.
 These cross-stitched kneeling pads where beautiful and unique.
 WHile we were looking around a woman came in preparing for the service the next day. We talked to her for a bit and she told us a little about the church. There was also info pictures on the walls telling the church's history.

 And, of course, there was a pipe organ.
 The rafters had different animals carved and painted into them. So many tiny details in this church!
 Stone baptismal. Do you see how old these churchs are? 1662 is carved into it!
 The setting sun turned the bricks golden.

 Then we had lunch in this little tea room.
Our main destination was Chirk castle, which was stunning and more magnificent than any castle we'd seen in Ireland.

Although the locals called it a small castle, (and I suppose it was compared to others in the UK) but we were shocked by its size. It was several times the size any we'd seen previously!

Check back next week to see pictures of that!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Global Church

When I was at a service at a Church here in America while at College, I couldn't help but think of St. Patrick's Church, which is a Church of Ireland/Anglican church, Holy Rosary, which is Catholic Church, and Hillside, which is and Evangelical church. I attended all of these at least once while I was living in Greystones, Ireland. I also thought of my home church which I grew up in.

No, I wasn't comparing them. I was merely overwhelmed at the thought that all these places, all these people, were worshiping God at that same moment with me. (lets put aside the time difference for the time being) They were praising the same God I was from across the pond. As I sang, they were singing. I could picture myself in each one of those churches. I remembered the people. I remembered singing and interacting with them.

You always hear about believers all over the world, but for me, the deep realization of that didn't hit until I went to Ireland. That is perfectly understandable. In fact, I believe it is impossible to fully comprehend that fact unless you've been overseas. Until you connect with a church body, experience their form of worship, and get to know a few people, you just don't have the ability to feel that in your core. 
Now that I've been there, I could clearly imagine myself, there, praising the Lord with them. I could imagine our voices combining and spiraling like a tendril of smoke as an offering to the Lord. These people from different backgrounds, different beliefs, and different forms of worship, we were all worshiping the same glorious God.

I haven't spoken on here much about what I've learned from being in Ireland. However, this was one of the biggest things I came to realize while on the Emerald Isle. I always "knew" it, but until I was there and experienced worship in another culture and got to know Christians from a different culture, I didn't really understand it.

God is a Global God. We are a Global Church. Christians around the world from every denomination are united in the Worship of the Lord, who died and saved each one of us from our sins. 

Another thing I learned from being over their is that we are called to be Global Christians.

When God left his heavenly splendor and came to earth. He took upon him the HUMAN.


Go back and re-read that slowly. As Christians, we hear that phrase far too often. Think about what it really means. What I discovered it means is this:

Jesus performed the greatest act of cross-cultural competence in the world. 

Jesus left his heavenly culture and took on our human culture.

As Christians, we talk about being transformed into Christ's image and becoming more Christ-like all the time. Think about what that really means.

If one of the biggest things Jesus did was cross cultures, isn't one of the things we are called to be are Global Christians? Part of becoming like Christ is our ability to cross cultures effectively. 

Crossing Cultures happen just by overseas. It is intention rethinking your way of thinking and taking on the other culture's thought process -- that is just one part of it.Crossing Cultures does not entail going overseas with American idea seeking to "save" the people of a different culture. It is leaving your Americanness behind and learning the other culture's ways.  

It is seeing that different ways are not necessarily wrong ways. Something that is not broken does not need to be fixed. 

Forcing American ideas on other cultures is one of the most harmful things we can do and is not effectively crossing cultures at all. It is basically the opposite of being culturally competent. 
 If we want to fully understand what being in the "image" of God is like, I think that means successfully crossing cultures. It is a long hard process that I've barely even started, but it is a glorious one which will reshape the way you see the world and Christianity.

I'm sorry for the long lecture. I just wanted to share a few of the things I learned. 

In conclusion, here are two wonderful sermons from St. Patrick's Church in Ireland. (And aside from that, I love listening to these sermons because it is a full 20 minutes or so of the Irish accent.) 

Choose Life (An even stronger accent :D)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Springhill Farm in Wales

 Springhill farm is located on the border of north and south Wales. The picture above was our backyard. I really loved the country of Wales we were basically half and hour from any town.

Believe it or or not, the landscape was 100 times as beautiful over those hill, which was just one of the treks we took when we rode out. Unfortunately, I haven't master the skill of photography on horse back, especially on a horse I don't know well. Therefore, I have no pictures to share with you. Those gorgeous images are only in my mind.

 The neat thing is, apparently Tolkien traveled in this area and we saw places during our rides that inspired him in the landscape of both the Shire and Mordor. We also saw the hill which was used in the film: The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain.
 These pictures was from my walk up the road where the horse's pastures were located, so here is your typical barrage of equine photos.

 From America to Wales to Australia -- Pony Club Games! Same equipment, same rules, and the same amount of faun!

I absolutely loved this place, the horses, and the landscape. It was a fabulous fall break!

The next few posts will be covering a Roman Aqueduct, a medieval castle, a stunning church and one wonderful scenery.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Liverpool, England to Chirk, Wales

 This week, I'll cover a little more of Liverpool and our journey from there to Chirk. The first matter of business is the fact that we were passing from Ireland into the United Kingdom so that meant a different currency. Ireland uses the Euro while England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all use Pounds Sterling. We'd been in Belfast in Northern Ireland the week before heading over to Wales, so we drew some pounds from the ATM there to have cash handy if we needed it when we landed.

The lovely thing is the Northern Ireland bills featured cites in Northern Ireland
The Giant's Chimneys at Giant's Causeway.
 By this point using euros was second nature to me (It is still easier to use them than American Dollars) But the Pounds, although basically the same idea, looked different and were confusing at first -- especially the coins.

I prefer using euros over pounds, but pounds are far prettier than euros.

Anyhow, we landed and found a bus going to Liverpool city center and hopped on.

 We passed so many wonderful sights.

 Liverpool is such a magnificent city.
 We then found our train station and counted down the minutes until it arrived. The train did not take us all the way to Chirk,Wales so we had to switch trains at Chester, England
 Red Telephone booths aren't only found in London.

 We settled in for another trainride which brought us to Chirk where the director of Springhill farms picked us up and took us to her farm.

This is the cabin we stayed in for the week. It was really, really nice.
 The fall colors were far brighter in Wales and England than they were in Ireland. It was lovely to be surrounded by such beauty.
Check back next week for some horsey pictures!