08 May 2015

It’s difficult for a late night news addict
to ‘Sing a New Song’ in the morning

Archbishop Eamon Martin addresses the General Synod in Armagh this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

One of my joyful tasks at the General Synod this year again is act as host to our ecumenical guests. This year they include observers from the Roman Catholic, Romanian Orthodox, Methodist, Moravian and Presbyterian Churches, the Irish Council of Churches, the Religious Society of Friends and the Redeemed Church of Christ.

We are getting to know each other or renewing friendships at coffee breaks and at lunch and dinner in the Armagh City Hotel.

This morning, there was a warm welcome at the General Synod for the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Eamon Martin.

Archbishop Martin said that when he was being ordained Archbishop he chose as his motto: “Sing to the Lord a New Song.”

“Ever since that, I’ve been troubled by my own motto and I’m not sure what it means to me,” he said.

Archbishop Martin said that the real inspiration was a call to conversion for each one of us every single day. He wondered if it meant new words or a new melody. Then along came Pope Francis and he put down a challenge to people to try doing things in a new key – so it’s the same words and melody in a new key. And Pope Francis says this is a missionary key.

“We are challenged to get out there with the message of the Gospel to get out to the messiness of people’s lives, to the reality of where they are living. We’re in the present and we’re called to sing a new song. I know that’s not always easy. In wishing you well for your deliberations for these days I encourage you to consider how you sing a new song to the Lord, delivering the challenging message of the Gospel without alienating people but calling them to Come and See,” he said.

Not that my voice is in good singing form this morning. I am staying in the Charlemont Arms Hotel, and stayed up late last night renewing friendships with other members of the General Synod. It was, you might say, “networking.”

And then, instead of going to sleep, I left the television on all night, half-sleeping and half watching the election news on BBC.

Earlier yesterday, I had spent part of the afternoon as the pool of people who are writing news reports on the General Synod for the Church of Ireland Gazette.

It’s hard to stop being a news junky after working as journalist for most of your adult life … and I’m still waiting for news from some of the election counts.

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