Strolling through the marketplace of life

Some Tuesday mornings I like to amble early down into Market Square in Lisburn and take in the gradual influx and arrival of many traders and vendors setting up their weekly stalls.

The Very Rev Dermot McCaughan Parish Priest.

You can almost feel the expectation and buzz in the early morning air, and within a short time a vibrant and buzzing scene has descended upon the centre of Lisburn

Back through the mists of time this small drama began in 1628 during the reign of Charles 1st.

A Charter was established granting the town of ‘Lisnagarvey’ the rights to be able to have, hold and keep one market on every Tuesday in each week. For almost 400 years on this unique location sellers and buyers have been engaged in a wonderful world of trading and dealing.

The traders – some family businesses and local dealers – and others travelling from Ardglass, Portavogie, Newry, Belfast, etc. put on a wonderful trade fair exhibition. A wide range of stalls displaying handmade crafts, flowers, plants, clothes and a large selection of fresh fish all showcasing the fruits of their labour.

Indeed a large sea of colour with all the fruit, vegetable and flower displays capture the essence of all that is good and decent and honest in everyday life. Constant transactions in which everyone is a winner!

Friends and acquaintances and traders who have forged many friendships over the years often pause and take time to chat together. Indeed a recent statistic has revealed that people have six times as many conversations at the market place as they do in a supermarket. Lisburn marketplace constantly exhibits a backdrop of town and country coming together where friendly rivalry is at its best. No one ever appears to be in a hurry!

Such is the rich history of market towns that in many smaller market locations in England and Scotland there are still standing to this very day, structures of old market crosses – an invitation for God’s goodwill and blessing on all trading.

Each year on Earth Day we celebrate all the gifts the World and Nature make available to us. Sometimes with the rise of technology we get so disconnected from the natural world and its Creator that we forget that Earth has always been a generous and giving planet!

A second glance at the market place reminds me that healthy and fertile soil provides the best of homes for all our plants and vegetation. The World has also turned to the rivers and seas for thousands of years as fisheries provide a valuable source of food for people at every corner of the Earth. Most of what Natures gives us is beyond measure!

Imagine Jesus of Nazareth strolling through the market place of life – a World He never leaves . On stumbling upon the sign post of the old market cross we all pray that He would find that good will and integrity of living about which He used to preach. Those virtues for which He yearned. Our good Christian faith is never to be isolated from the world of work and daily living. He taught us that the market place of life is filled with people loved by God. Each day we travel together as people and families of faith. May our goodwill and love for each other bring us always in to the presence of that Jesus of Nazareth.