Flute Band Church

The story I am about to use by way of introduction, is one that you all know very well; Moses and the Burning Bush! There we read “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush”. Wee bit of free information, when you read about “the angel of the Lord” as opposed to “an angel of the Lord” it refers to the Lord Jesus in pre-incarnate form, so it was the Lord Jesus Christ in pre-incarnate form who addressed Moses in the Burning Bush!

And we know that Moses put forward several objections as to why he was the wrong guy! Until the Lord asked him,

Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. (Exodus 4:2)

Now, Moses spent 40 years in Egypt, being told he was someone, ‘A Prince’, and after he killed the Egyptian slave driver, he fled and spent the next 40 years in the desert as a shepherd, believing he was a nobody, UNTIL, God stepped in at the age of 80 and told him he had what we would say in ‘Norn Iron’: “a wee job for you”.  And when the Lord asked Moses what was that in his hand, for Moses the staff represented his uselessness, “Im only a shepherd”. And by the Lord turning it into a snake, and back again, the Lord was showing Moses that “that thing” which he thought defined him as a nobody, he could use for the glory of God.

Now, that is the illustration I have used in the past to help people understand ‘Flute Band Church’ (FBC for short).  In other words, what life experiences do you have, that you can give to God, and He could use them for His glory? For me, going to my previous parish, desperate to find a way to connect with the local community, I felt God whispering to me, “what have you got in your hand:” “use your life experiences to speak to others”, and so my experience of being in a marching band, and continuing to help out Pride of the Hill Auld Boys, I felt I could use as one way, and its just another way, to reach into a world that I have had experience of in the past – which is why FBC was birthed in Muckamore, and why on the 22nd March this year, FBC, St. Mark’s was birthed.

Allow me to go back a little: Having been in a band in my youth, I may have rejected traditional church, but I was open to the person of Jesus, and I spent many a night engaged with my friends on a Saturday night about questions of faith. But, I never had the opportunity to ask my questions to a Christian who lived in my world who could give me an informed answer, and be part of our discussions. And many of us, had questions, but nowhere and no-one whom we trusted to ask them.  So FBC was my attempt to create an environment, where men and women, both past and present band members and supporters could come, play tunes, drink tea and coffee, have good craic, and in the midst of that maybe learn something about Christianity in a very non-threatening way.

So, on Wednesday 22nd March, in Carlton Street Orange Hall, at 7:30, I held a free concert, and invited some local bands to take part, in the hope that afterwards, bandsmen past and present might give FBC a go, and meet up for a few weeks in the run up to the summer.  Portadown Defenders, Portadown True Blues and Flute Band Church, St Jude’s agreed to play for us.

In all of this, my aim is simply to reach out to men and women, who probably do not attend or belong to any church, in a way that makes them feel that they have value as human beings and that the church wants to engage with them. And I do it as someone hopefully seen as an ‘insider’ rather than someone shouting at them from a high pulpit. So, I look forward to welcoming anyone who is interested and I hope that even if you yourself are not interested perhaps someone in your family or friends are, and they would really enjoy it, or at least be interested to see what its all about.

Soli Deo Gloria

The Rector


Rev William Orr