Retrograde steps with respect to the sanctity of the Lord’s Day have bookcased this week in Northern Ireland.
These commenced with the attendance of high level politicians at a GAA final on Sunday and ended with the announcement that plans were being followed to switch the hugely successful Belfast Marathon from the usual public holiday to God’s holy day.
Both developments cause incredible angst and offence to Christians who treasure the special nature of God’s Day.
The second will certainly exclude a considerable number of Christians from participation in a race through which finances have been raised for many charitable causes and will radically inconvenience others in their attempts to proceed to their places of worship.
Of course in an age when the flagships of respect, tolerance and equality are supposed to be sailing the seas, it must again be noted that such vessels are characteristically lop-sided and capable of travelling in only one direction.
When framing the famous Westminster Confession of Faith, our spiritual forebears felt it necessary to include a chapter on ‘Religious Worship, And The Sabbath Day’ – one that contained guidelines and outlined benefits not merely for professing Christians but for all of society:
“As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him (Exodus 20:8,10,11; Isaiah 56:2,4,6,7).”
If it is the genuine desire of politicians in our country to secure the brightest of futures for the citizens of our beautiful country, then showing appropriate respect for God’s Day instead of targeting it for relentless selfish assault would be a good place to begin.
Rev Ian Brown, Clerk, Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster