Hello from Across the Pond!
It’s been a while since we last shared about our experiences in Ireland – we’ve had so much going on! From exploring the Tullymore Forest to climbing to the Carrickfergus Lighthouse to studying art and history in Dublin, the last few days have been so busy but so exciting!
On Sunday we had unique experience in worshipping at St. Paul’s Parish Belfast. For many in our group, it was their first time attending a Catholic Mass. We might not have understood everything that was going on during the service and be far outside of our comfort zone, but God’s presence was still so real.
I’ve been to Mass several times, but this was my first experience of Mass in another country, and it was so different from anything I had ever attended. The main thing that struck me was that their tradition did not surpass their intention. The heart behind the leadership and congregation of the parish was clear: to encourage other believers in Christ and cultivate reconciliation in the name of the Lord.
We’ve spent a good amount of time studying the Troubled Years and religious conflict in Northern Ireland, and have attended several Protestant churches within the city, but experiencing worship from the other side of the conflict was so eye opening. Despite the differences in tradition and emphasis and leadership, both sides have the same goal: to make peace and to be unified in Christ.
And isn’t that what our goal as Christians should be too? We should cultivate reconciliation – of believers to believers, of non-believers to God? I think so often we allow our differences and disagreements to overshadow the fact that we are all children of a loving and just God. Catching a glimpse of this body of Christ carrying out his mission of reconciliation was such an inspiration. Not to be cheesy or anything. It really did make me want to reach out to other congregations and denominations and to cultivation unity as the body of Christ within my own community.
Yesterday we had the wonderful opportunity to tour the famous Titanic Museum and Shipyard. The RMS Titanic was constructed here in Belfast by the Harland & Wolff workforce beginning in 1909. At 175 feet tall and almost 900 feet long, the ship was the world’s largest vessel at the time – an incredible feat for a city like Belfast.
The tour led us through the design, construction, and voyage of the ship, finished with a walk through the shipyard that constructed it. It was fascinating to dig a little deeper into the culture and history of this country.
This morning we got a peek into the inner workings of the Northern Irish government with a visit to Stormont Parliament. It was so interesting to learn about the setup of their system and the current issues their leaders are working through. Seeing a different perspective on governmental leadership was eye opening. I think so often in America we stay in our own little bubble and are not culturally aware of events happening in our world. I am so thankful that we got a taste of the political side of Northern Ireland – every little bit helps us to better understand the culture.
Our experiences have stretched us both as individuals and as believers, and I know it’s something I will never forget. We’ve fallen in love with these people, their way of life, and let’s be honest, their tea and biscuits. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been here for a month, and that we’ll be leaving so soon!
See you on the other side!
Hello from Across the Pond!