Issue 131 “UNION NEWS” February 2021


Dear Parishioners,

Happy New Year

I would like to again, at the beginning of this month, wish you a very happy and safe New Year.  None of us has any certainty as to how the year will unfold but we do have some hope that the implementing of the vaccine programme holds out a potential which will allow us return to some normality.  I have come to appreciate the importance and influence of patience.  Being patient is something we can all do.  Worry and anxiety won’t, on its’ own, bring an end to the pandemic.  But remaining patient provides a wonderful “antibiotic” for worry and stress and one of the invaluable fruits of patience is the feeling of calmness.  I heartily recommend patience to you and I know you will not be disappointed.  While sitting patiently you might like to quietly read the words of Psalm 121.  Each word is strong enough to hold up the human spirit and give comfort and hope.

Psalm 121

I will life up mine eyes to the hills

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

the maker of heaven and earth.


He will not let your foot slip

He who watches over you will not slumber,

indeed He who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.


The Lord watches over you

the Lord is your shade at our right hand

so that the sun shall not burn you by day

nor the moon by night.


The Lord will keep you from all harm

He will watch over your life,

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forever more.  Amen.


Sunday Worship during the Lockdown

In addition to the “Sunday Moments” every Sunday on the website and Facebook, from this Sunday 7th February I am inviting all parishioners to join together in spirit as we visit our own gardens, green spaces or farmyards to worship and glorify God for a few moments.

I will send you an Order of Service each month in the Union Notes to be used on the Sundays during the month.  I hope we will all be able to join together in spirit to “keep the Lord’s day” as we should.  I would ask you also to text me on the Sunday so we can know how many parishioners are joining together in spirit to worship God and to support each other in prayer – 087 7870985.

The young leaders of Lighten Our Darkness have kindly agreed to take part.  You will remember their Prayer Vigil in the first lockdown.

In time we could perhaps share videos of the different “Garden Services”.  I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday, 7th February, in spirit.

Communion, Contact, Connection

These are all essential in God’s world.  During the pandemic we are really appreciating their importance and miss them enormously.   Each of these are found in abundance in our Parish when we are living in “normal times”.  When the pandemic passes we must celebrate these in a very special way and, of course, revive them all to their former glory.  So many people are suffering a poverty of “loss” by not being in communion, contact or connected.  May I invite you to take a moment to connect with someone in the Parish.  I know they will really appreciate your call.  We all need divine and human contact.  Prayers and telephones are good starting points.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, will be on Wednesday 17th February.  I am going to hold an Ash Wednesday Service on Zoom at 8.00 p.m. on that day.  If you would like to join me for the Service please let me know and I will happily send you an invitation for the Zoom Service- 0877870985 or by e mail .

Zoom Reflection Meeting

In last month’s Union Notes I mentioned the holding of a Zoom Reflection Meeting.  Happily, a small number of parishioners have responded and the first meeting will be held on Monday 1st March at 8.00 p.m.  If these meetings are successful I hope we will be able to hold one every month.  I have put back the first meeting until 1st March to give parishioners a further opportunity to attend the meeting.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to be part of the Zoom Reflection Meeting by telephone or e mail.


This month we continue to remember with thanksgiving all those good people in all walks of life who are doing such sterling work to help support those who have succumbed to the Corona virus.  Their compassion is an inspiration and we are greatly in their debt.  We also remember those who are not well at this time and those recovering from recent operations and procedures.  We remember those who have been bereaved and we remember Karen and Ron Lomax following the sad passing of Karen’s aunt.  We pray that all those who have passed on from this world may rest in peace and rise in glory. In particular at this time we remember George Forbes who’s fathers’  second anniversary will be remembered on Sunday 7th February

A Morning Prayer and an Evening Prayer

O Lord, our heavenly father, almighty and everliving God, we give you thanks for bringing us safely to this day; keep us from falling into sin or running into danger and in all things guide us to know and do your will, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lighten our darkness we beseech thee O Lord and by thy great mercy defend us from all the perils and dangers of this life, for the love of thine only Son our saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Sunday Worship during February

Order of Service

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.

May I invite you to look up at the sky and then say or sing the hymn “Count your blessings”

Count your blessings, name them one by one

Count your blessings, look what God has done,

Count your blessings, name them one by one

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Please take a moment to name your blessings.

Bible Verse

“and my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glorying Christ Jesus” Philippians 4, verse 19


I invite you to move to your lawn or grass.  Please place an item of food on the ground.  Take a moment to look at both the grass and the food and remember how blessed we are to have food to eat and water to drink for our sustenance and wellbeing.

Bible Verse

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for growing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” 2 Corinthians 9, verse 10


Please gather a few dead leaves together. The leaves resemble our failings and the failing of others.  Holding the leaves we remember behaviour that can offend us.  Holding a grudge might feel natural but the Bible encourages us to forgive and to seek God’s forgiveness for our failings and the mistakes of others.

Please let the leaves now fall to the ground.

Bible Verse

“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”  1 John 1, verse 9

Say or sing “Jesus loves me”

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but he is strong

               Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me

               Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.

Stand and look at a tree which is near at hand.

Bible Verse

“I am the true vine and my father is the gardener, He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, I am the vine and you are the branches; if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing”  John 15

This bible passage reminds us that Jesus exists and is alive and with us.  Jesus has all the good qualities of God.  Jesus is like the trunk of the tree.  As the trunk feeds the branches, when we are in Jesus’s presence His love and power feeds us and we can bring life to others – feed the hungry, help the sick, care for the poor, support each other.  When we try to go it alone, try living life without God, we soon discover our mistake.  We can wither and die.  We must make sure we keep in touch with Jesus, knowing Him and being known by Him.

Prayers:              Let us pray.

Almighty God, by whose grace alone we have been accepted and called to your service, strengthen and guide us by your Holy Spirit in all our work and make us worthy of our calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Remember in mercy our Father, those who are passing through illness, those recovering from operations and those who have succumbed to the Corona virus, bless all that is being done for their good and surround them with your healing love and power, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen.

Prosper with your blessing O Lord, all our work in this Parish and strengthen the hands of all parishioners who serve you, make our worship more worthy, our witness more effective, our lives more holy, and inspire us all with a fresh zeal for our Parish to the honour of your name and to your glory.  Amen.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.  Amen.

Closing Hymn – “Our God Reigns”

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him

who brings good news, good news

announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness

our God reigns, Our God reigns!     “Our God reigns” (four times)

 End of Service- Do keep well and safe this month. I am always available if you wish to speak to me.

With God’s blessings,  Canon Alastair Graham

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Rev. Alastair Graham
The Rectory
Gaol Hill
Co. Westmeath

Tel: 044 9348376