Ballyclabber Church weekend 2023 was held on 29 September to 1 October with guest speaker Rev Paul Levy from Ealing IPC, London. On Friday evening Paul introduced himself and opened the weekend with his first address from the book of Hosea 1 ‘The shock of God’s love’.
Through the book of Hosea, we learn of God commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute, a surprising command but it allows us to learn more about our relationship with God. We are unfaithful, just like Hosea’s wife. But God takes us, wicked and sinful to himself. In Hosea, God is angry and disappointed that the people he redeemed have turned their backs on him but just like Hosea, God still loves us even when our sin and unfaithfulness hurts Him. Israel was to face judgement for turning their backs on God, but he was and is faithful in keeping his covenant, even in a broken relationship by sending Jesus to redeem us.
On Saturday we all met together for morning coffee, followed by our second talk. Whilst the adults were thinking about Hosea 2 ‘The marriage gone wrong, some of the ladies in the congregation organised activities for the children. Afterwards we spent some time reflecting on the previous two talks in a time of discussion and prayer. The afternoon was well spent having friendship and fellowship over lunch and then a choice of a leisurely walk or what turned out to be a competitive game of 10 pin bowling in the Jet Centre Coleraine.
An enjoyable day was rounded up with a delicious congregational dinner provided by Grace McCollum’s Lanterns Catering. This was followed by family worship lead by Rev James Blair. James talked to the children about how precious we all are in Gods eyes. A busy day ended with a table quiz that we had prepared that week. There was some fierce competition for the prizes, made a little more difficult with some challenging questions for both the young and old! No Google allowed!!
Sabbath morning the children went to Sabbath school, and the adult bible class resumed for the new season. Rev Levy preached from Hosea 11‘The difficult doctrine of the love of God’. Sabbath evening the address was from Hosea 14 ‘It’s not over’. After evening worship, there was a time of Psalm singing and further fellowship over tea and coffee.
The time we spent together as a church family listening to Paul’s message from the word of God greatly challenged and encouraged us in our faith and made us consider our relationship with God, who we truly are to him, how much he cares for us and how we should respond to him. If you get the opportunity, we highly recommend that you access these talks available on the church Facebook page. We pray that it will encourage you as it did us.
Stephen and Gemma McElnay