The Word on the Week


Two commemorations in one week. In the North the 100 anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant. In the South the national festival of Arthur’s Day.

The Ulster Covenant was against Home Rule (the fear was that it would become Rome Rule) preferring the British Crown to the Irish Harp. The Arthur’s Day festival was for the pint of Guinness and embraced its symbol of the Irish Harp.

The Covenant gained 471,414 signatures, some signed in their own blood, and came to be summarised in the phrase, “Ulster says No”. Arthur’s Day was started in 2009 to commemorate 250 years since Arthur Guinness brewed his first pint of stout and which is now being marketed as “The Black Stuff”.

The Northern celebration will be marked by unrest, police in riot gear deploying water canon and tear gas. Gangs of youths setting fire to anything inflammable and using their weapon of choice, the petrol bomb, on the police.

The Southern celebrations will breath new life into pubs (is it one day or three days?) for its duration. Garda stations and hospital emergency departments reported up to 30% increase in activity a fact confirmed by the constant wail of the ubiquitous ambulance siren.

We had better get used to these things as there many more commemorations coming down the track before this decade is over!

What has the Bible to do with all this?

The great Biblical festivals celebrated deliverances from bondage and had a strong future aspect. God was at the centre of them and was to be worshipped and praised.

Perhaps the best known was the Passover commemorating the rescue of God’s people from Egypt where they had been living as slaves. In obedience to God’s instructions a lamb was slaughtered and its blood spread on the doorposts and lintel of the homes giving protection to those inside. The final plague resulted in the death of the first born in a final act of judgement. In every home there was a death. Either the firstborn of children or livestock or the death of a lamb Exodus Chapter 12. As a result the whole nation was saved and the annual Passover celebration instigated.

Jesus celebrated the last Passover when he identified himself with the slain lamb who was about to effect deliverance for his people from their bondage to sin. He introduced the New Covenant in his blood which was about to be shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, St Matthew chapter 26 verse 28. His followers remember this event when they meet by eating bread and drinking from the cup together 1 Corinthians 11.

The Irish festivals celebrated this week speak of things considered to be important but pale into insignificance compare with the work of Jesus rescuing sinners from hell.

Trust Jesus for yourself and you will see the other festivals in a new light 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 17.