CIMS Quiet Day in Magheradroll

The AGM and Annual Quiet Afternoon were held in Magheradroll Parish Church Ballynahinch on Saturday 25th February 2006.

The Speaker was Rev. Canon Dr. Alan Abernethy of Ballyholme Parish.

Wilfred Young (Lay Sec), Canon John Mann (Gen Sec), Rev Canon Dr. Alan Abernethy and Bishop Harper (Chairman).

Lay Secretary Wilfred Young and Chairman Bishop Alan Harper  preparing for the AGM;


Following an Annual General Meeting and a Service of Holy Communion in the Parish Church, the Director of 'The Quiet Afternoon', Canon Alan Abernethy, Rector of St Columbanus, Ballyholme, addressed the members of the Society. He began by asking the question 'How do you perceive God?' He continued: 'I once asked children in a school class ‑ 'If you were God for a day, what would you do?' Among a chorus of suggestions one child said: 'I would make God visible!'

To illustrate the difficulties in the way we perceive God, Canon Abernethy described a seminar, organised by Bishop Harold Miller, in a course of self‑appraisal for clergy. For all the 8 clergy who took part, the most difficult part of the exercise was prayer. Our perception of God effects how we pray. For instance, is it a duty or a joy? AS the late Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey remarked: 'To breathe is to pray'.

One Christmastime Canon Abernethy was in Cornmarket, Belfast, to buy Christmas presents. An open‑air preacher was addressing passing shoppers. Down Ann Street came a Santa Clause, somewhat the worse for drink. Spotting his target, the preacher directed his condemnation at this object spectacle. A crowd gathered to witness this developing drama. Santa Clause dropped his bog and stood still but after a brief pause, he picked up his bag and walked away without saying a word. The crowd applauded and as Canon Abernethy said: 'They applauded because they saw more of God in Santa than they did in the preacher.'

Canon Abernethy asked the Society members present to consider the story of the prodigal son at the time Jesus told it in Palestine. In the context of that period a son asking his father, still living, for his inheritance was tantamount to saying: 'I wish you were dead.' The father responds by graciously conceding to his son's request. The prodigal takes his inheritance, uses it and abuses it and finally returns home in disgrace. His father runs to meet him. Again in that time in Palestine elders do not run out to welcome someone younger. Is our perception of God a God of Judgement and Righteousness, like the elder brother, or a God who gives freely and always welcomes the repentant sinner? Canon Abernethy quoted the words of Jesus, which begin: 'Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.' He concluded with the words of his grandfather, who said to his grandsons: 'Remember this faith is a journey and the only promise you have is God is with you.'