Belfast Telegraph

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Uncle kept his Sunday sacred

Thought for the weekend

By Rev Gareth Burke

A s a young lad quite I spent quite a bit of time during July and August in Co Fermanagh, where my mother came from and where my uncle Tom was farming.

He lived alone on the farm and appreciated the company and support during the summer, especially when the hay was being brought in.

Now as a townie, I can't pretend to understand all that was involved in the bringing in of the hay but I remember that for me it involved spending a lot of time out in the fields with my uncle - it was great.

My uncle Tom was a very interesting character. Throughout his whole life of over 80 years he only visited Belfast on two occasions - once for the Balmoral show and once to visit his mother in the City Hospital.

In many ways Fermanagh was his life.

He couldn't understand the desire of so many younger people to go to Belfast.

Anyway one particular memory of uncle Tom came back to me the other day. The weather had been a bit wet for a week or 10 days. The hay was lying in the field and needed to be baled.

Tom did not own a baler so a contractor had to be hired to do the baling. I didn't quite understand why but the situation was getting serious.

Days were going by and the hay was lying on the ground - not baled. Then, a scorching day arrived - a Sunday. By all accounts it was an ideal day for baling. My mother asked my uncle, "Tom, what are you going to do?". You could hear the sound of the tractor and baler working somewhere nearby.

Uncle Tom wasn't a man who found it easy to openly speak about matters of faith. But on this day he was clear as to what he would do. "I can't be baling today," he said. "I'm for church." For him Sunday was God's day, a special day set apart for the praise and worship of God.

Although it was a difficult choice for him to make he chose to honour God, his word and his day. In his own way my uncle Tom put God first. That's what God wants.

He wants us to look to Jesus as our saviour and friend. He wants us to honour him in every part of our lives.

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