This past July my wife and I had the great blessing of going to Ireland for the first time. The occasion was the eightieth birthday of Colleen’s dad, Ron Pierce. My father-in-law’s ancestors originally hail from the beautiful Emerald Isle of the Irish. Some of the Pierce clan emigrated to Canada around 1820. Grandpa Ron let us know that he would greatly appreciate it if some of his family could go to Ireland with him.
Like for most things, my wife Colleen was instantly enthusiastic about the idea. Characteristically, I took time to gradually warm up to the idea. In the end, we accompanied Colleen’s parents to Ireland. I am so glad we accepted the invitation to go to this beautiful part of God’s creation.
A Trip To Remember
We ended up spending most of our time in the southeast part of Ireland, in the county of Wexford. This is where Grandpa Ron’s family is from. It is very pastoral with many sheep farms and narrow roads which are similar to Devon County in southwest England. Hedge bushes border both sides of most roads.
When you think of Ireland you don’t usually think of long sandy beaches since its climate is so moderate. It rarely gets hot there. And even though we were there in July, daytime temperatures never got higher than 21 or 22 degrees Celsius. Yet, southeast Ireland has beautiful beaches bordering the Irish Sea. We walked several kilometers on the sandy beaches and I swam for the first time in saltwater. We saw gigantic Man ‘O War jellyfish that had washed up on the beach as the tide went back out to sea.
Experiencing the natural beauty of Ireland was a highlight of our trip as well as visiting historic castles and places like Vinegar Hill. This latter place holds a special place in many Irish folks’ hearts. It was the site of an historic battle in 1798 which birthed a spirit and resolve that eventually resulted in Irish independence from England in 1921. Even though the Irish lost the Battle of Vinegar Hill to English forces, the valiant courage demonstrated by the fallen Irish were never forgotten.
“God Is In This Place”
Another highlight was visiting some of Colleen’s fourth and fifth cousins in their homes as well as in the Kilrush Church of Ireland. We attended a Sunday worship service at Kilrush where members of the Pierce clan have been worshipping since at least the 1700s’. The faithfulness of the Pierce clan to the Lord is a reflection of God’s even greater faithfulness to us. In the worship service we attended, the gospel was faithfully proclaimed and we sang beautiful ancient Christ-centered hymns. As I left Church that morning, I had a profound sense of God’s presence ministered through the crucified and risen Christ Jesus.
As I meditate on this, I realize in an awesome way that the blood-relatives of my 5 children have experienced Christ’s presence in this place for the last 300 years as Christ’s words and sacraments have been faithfully ministered and received by His followers. Through all the vicissitudes and sufferings of the Irish, including the Pierce clan, God’s presence has comforted and strengthened these pilgrims as they have travelled the way of Christ. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:20 – “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” And also of Jesus’ words at the end the Great Commission in Mathew 28:20b – “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As we experience the vicissitudes and sufferings of life, and as we hear about unsettling world events, let us keep centered in the faithfulness of God. Let us continue to let Christ’s words dwell richly in our hearts and let His peace rule our hearts. And may His Spirit inspire and empower us to sacrificially serve our neighbor to the glory of God.
QOTD: Is it your heart’s passion to pass on a godly heritage to the next generation who are following you in the way of Christ?