The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Revd Andrew Forster, preaches the Sermon at Sunday's Service of Installation.
The Rt Rev Andrew Forster was installed as the new Bishop of Raphoe in St Eunan's Cathedral in Raphoe on Sunday last.
It followed his installation of Bishop of Derry at a Service in St Columb's Cathedral in the city which took place four weeks to the day after his consecration as Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.
The St Columb's Service of Installation, which was led by the Dean of Derry, Very Revd Raymond Stewart, was the first such Service in the Diocese in almost 18 years.
Those in attendance included the Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, SDLP Councillor Cara Hunter.
There was a great deal of symbolism in the Service which began with Bishop Forster knocking three times with his pastoral staff on the Cathedral’s west door before he was admitted and welcomed by the Dean and members of the Cathedral Chapter.
Early in the proceedings, the Diocesan Registrar, Revd Canon David Crooks, read the Archbishop’s Mandate for the Induction, Installation and Enthronement of Rt Revd Forster into the Bishopric of Derry. Dean Stewart then led the new Bishop to the episcopal Throne where he took his seat.
During his sermon, the new Bishop appealed to the congregation to pray for him.
“I’m excited to be your bishop,” he told them.
“I’m also daunted to be your bishop. And the one thing that has been so evident for us as a family over these last weeks and months has been the prayers of people like you. I covet your prayers and I need your prayers.
“And as I pray for you, please continue to pray for me, so that God will lead, God will bless and God will help us to live out our call in His world.”
Reflecting on the Second Reading (Matthew 2: 1-12), Bishop Forster described King Herod as “one of the bad boys of history.”
“The economy of Judea had flourished under him, but it was because of Herod that Jesus and His parents were driven to become refugees.
“Refugees, persecution, fear, insecurity – it sounds pretty familiar to our broken world, doesn’t it,” Bishop Forster said. “Our broken world where so many followers of Jesus face persecution and even death for Him, where refugees are so often put at the very bottom of the pile and where refugees are often ignored, and lost and left behind?
“I want us – as a follower of Jesus – I want each one of us to have bigger hearts, to have bigger hearts for those who are on the margins of society, for those who come to us as refugees, for those who are persecuted for their faith, for those who know day by day what it is to live with insecurity and in fear.
“We need to be people with bigger hearts, generous hearts and giving hearts.”
Bishop Forster said it was strange that in one way we had never been so connected in the world through the internet and social media but yet we had never felt so disconnected from each other. It seemed so easy to become isolated and disconnected nowadays.
“In those circumstances, I think there’s nothing that beats a warm-hearted Church, serving God at the heart of its community, with the community in its heart, serving in hope and love as a family.”
Bishop Forster reflected on the Magi – the “wise, learned men” from the “higher echelons of society” – who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Baby Jesus. They had been preceded by a group of shepherds, hard-working men, living quite isolated lives, eking out a modest living caring for sheep.
“To both of those groups,” the Bishop said, “their goal was to meet Christ.
“And you see what we have here, from the highest in society to some of the lowliest in society? Jesus was for all of them.
“And Jesus is for all of us. Jesus is for our community here in the North West. Jesus is the one who brings light and hope and help on our journey.
“You see, whatever background, whatever education, whatever colour, creed, class, they came to worship Him and bowed down and worshipped Him.
“He’s for you and He’s for me and our goal must be to worship Him.”
Bishop Forster told the congregation that the word ‘Gospel’ meant ‘good news.'
“And I want to tell you, that’s all I can do, that’s all I can do as a Bishop, is to share the hope and the good news of Jesus, and to help each of us journey with Him.
“That’s who I am and that’s what God’s called me to be throughout my life – a messenger of His hope.”
Clergy and readers from throughout the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe took part in Sunday’s Service of Installation.
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