One of the great joys of being a parent is the enjoyment of Christmas with your children as they grow up.
Every family has their own traditions of course. For us it was decorating the house and the tree on Christmas Eve, because in the Church Christmas doesn’t begin until the eve of Christmas Day. Then I’d be off to Midnight Mass. Christmas Day morning would come, and I’d be back in church for the early said mass. Then, as we would be off to church for the Christmas Day mass, the children would open one present before church. And then afterwards it was back to the vicarage to open the rest of the presents while the grown-ups indulged in a festive glass of sherry or gin and tonic.
It’s such a joyful time – but happy as it is I wonder how many parents over the years, as they watch their children eagerly tear off the wrapping paper, have got that sinking feeling as they suddenly think: We forgot to buy the batteries! There may be trouble ahead!Continue reading
The sermon preached at Midnight Mass. Here’s what I said.
It is something of a tradition for the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other leading religious figures, in their Christmas sermons to make some reference to the state of the nation or the world, or to comment on political leaders – and to remind us of why we need the light of Christmas to shine into the darkness of the reality of the world we live in.
Not wishing to be outdone by the Archbishop of Canterbury, I thought this year I would follow his example. So I want to say something tonight about Members of Parliament – and in particular about one of the worst decisions that has ever been made in the House of Commons.
Don’t worry – it’s not what you think! The worst decision is not a recent one. But it must surely be the most unpopular decision ever made the House of Commons in its history and it has its 375th anniversary this year. The year was 1644. It was during the Civil War, and the mostly Puritan House of Commons disapproved of people enjoying themselves, especially at Christmas. So Members of Parliament decided to pass a law banning Christmas. Yes! Really!Continue reading
In three days you’ll all be opening your Christmas presents. Do you know what you’re getting? Have you been dropping hints? Or are you leaving it all to chance and hoping that you’ll get something you actually want, or at least that you can genuinely say is a nice surprise? Because the problem with Christmas presents isn’t just that you can’t always get what you want but that too often you do get what you really don’t want!
Christmas will soon be over. And we’ll be counting the cost of all those unwanted Christmas gifts.Continue reading
Mother Anne-Marie was preaching at St John’s this week for the third Sunday of Advent. She chose to preach on the epistle. Here’s what she said.
A few years back I bought the most beautiful, religious Advent Calendar I had ever had. It was a crib scene in the style of the old masters – no Santa Claus and elves and definitely no chocolate. This Advent Calendar would, I was sure, keep me focused on what Advent was really about.
But when I opened the first window, I was dismayed to see on the inside of the window the words 24 days to go. My lovely religious Advent Calendar was to be my count down, moving relentlessly on, not quite saying 24 shopping days to Christmas, but certainly reminding me daily of those words we hear so often. It ended up being the most depressing Advent Calendar I had ever had – 12 days to go, 11 days to go, 10 days to go – it was just a relentless reminder of how many days I had left to do everything on my list. As a child this count down to Christmas was so exciting and it went so slowly. Now the count down just whizzes by and the 24 days fly past in a whirl. Such is the effect of ageing.Continue reading
Here we are once more waiting for the big event tomorrow. Here we are with the story of a new-born baby, of a young single mother, with questions being asked about who the father of her child is!
Well, when the big event finally arrives we won’t be disappointed. Yes, it’s no secret – it’s been in the papers – that the truth about the father of Hayley Slater’s baby will finally come out. Quite how Alfie Moon is going to explain this to his wife Kat should be interesting. The big event, of course, is the Eastenders Christmas special (Note: Eastenders is a British television soap). And one cannot help but wonder, if like me you watch Eastenders, how the future is going to turn out for the poor baby in the middle of all this as she grows up. If you don’t watch Eastenders you won’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about!Continue reading
Well, it’s all over for another year, with people across the country wondering what on earth to watch on TV last night – we certainly were! Yes, a week ago yesterday Stacey Dooley and her partner Kevin Clifton were crowned Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the Stars outside the UK) champions for 2018, with Kevin shouting out live on air, “it’s a Christmas miracle.“Continue reading
This is the sermon I preached at Midnight Mass. For those from abroad who may be puzzled at the references let me explain. Eastenders is one of the top television soap operas in the UK and the Mitchell family are one of its most famous – or notorious – families.
A baby is born. New parents with a tiny child. And at one level Mary and Joseph were no different from any other parents holding a new born baby in their arms. They must have had the same hopes, the same fears, the same questions. A scene repeated millions of times over thousands of years. And like so many parents, as they looked upon their baby, they must have wondered at some level – what kind of person will this baby grow up to be.
Every parent has been there. As you look upon your new child and wonder what the future holds for them, what can you expect? What will they be like as they grow up? What kind of person will they grow into? What will they achieve in life?
Well – I’ve done a survey of a typical area of London and looked at how children turn out when they grow up. The typical area of London I’ve chosen for this survey is Albert Square in Walford, to be exact. For those of you who don’t know where Albert Square is, it’s where the people from Eastenders live. Continue reading
The gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Advent tells us of Joseph’s dream about Mary’s expected baby. Joseph – and Mary for that matter – must have been a little perturbed about this somewhat surprise gift from God of a baby. Here’s what I said in my sermon.
You can’t always get what you want sang the Rolling Stones. I sometimes think they might have been singing about Christmas presents. They also sound a bit like my mother when I was growing up, and I wonder how many parents will be saying that to their children this Christmas. The problem with Christmas presents though isn’t just that you can’t always get what you want but that too often you do get what you don’t want!
Christmas will soon be over. And we’ll be counting the cost of all those unwanted Christmas gifts. Continue reading
We always have, as the gospel for Midnight Mass, the wonderful prologue to the gospel of Saint John in John 1.1-14. Here’s what I said to those gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus at our Midnight Mass.
Will it be the warmest Christmas on record?
That was actually a headline from the Daily Mail in 2011.
And similar headlines have been repeated on a yearly basis with one exception – 2013 – ever since. And this year again similar questions are being asked as we come towards the end of the warmest December on record.
The daffodils outside the church are blooming. They think it’s spring! We’ve had to switch off the heating in the vicarage, and yesterday I had the window open as I was preparing my sermon for tonight, because it was just too hot. Children are growing up with no idea of the joys of making snowmen, or having snowball fights, or tobogganing.
And – I have to say – it’s making it very difficult when it comes to choosing which carols to sing. Singing, “See amid the winter’s snow, born for us on earth below” doesn’t seem quite appropriate. And as for “In the bleak midwinter” with its lines, “snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow”! No chance of that. And as for Bing Crosby dreaming of a white Christmas – well, he can dream on, because we know that yet again we’re not going to see one! Continue reading
It was my turn to preach this week for the feast of Christ the King. Here’s what I said.
“We do not go to Church; we live in the Church and go into the world”. Words of the Roman Catholic writer Keith Fournier. “We do not go to Church; we live in the Church and go into the world”.
So it’s Sunday morning and the family are milling around getting their breakfast, cereal is spilling on the floor, the radio is booming out music you don’t like, “Are you going to church this morning Mum?”, asks one of your teenagers who is still lolling about in pyjamas. He’s probably hoping you will say “yes” so there will be a couple of hours free of nagging about doing jobs and homework! You pause, and say “No, I’m not going to Church, I’m going Home”. Continue reading