Last Sunday was Advent Sunday and the beginning of a new church year. I was preaching this week so Father Jerry got the luxury of a week off! Here’s what I said.
You know that Christmas is coming when the first selection boxes and little bags of gold chocolate coins appear in the shops. I think this year that was the week after we got back from our summer holiday – the second week of September.
You know Christmas is even nearer when the tree goes up in the shopping centre and Father Christmas comes to switch on the lights, as he did in Caterham Valley yesterday – a week later than usual I think.
You know Christmas is nearer still when the first lights go on outside people’s houses – the earliest are usually the first week in December, so watch out, any day now! Continue reading
The 27th December is the feast day of Saint John, patron of our church, so we keep the Sunday after as our patronal festival. Here’s what I said, though my apologies for being a little late. My script was somewhat annotated from the computer copy and after the service a member of the congregation asked to borrow it to read. Now it’s been returned I am able to post what I actually said.
The Church is often accused of being out of touch with society. Well, it certainly seems to be out of touch with society on the few days after Christmas Day as those who attend mass on the three days after Christmas Day can testify. For they are faced with a Church that is a far cry from the eating, drinking and partying that is going on in the world outside. Get to Boxing Day and it’s clear that the Church isn’t celebrating the way everyone else is at all. Continue reading
Yesterday was the 4th Sunday of Advent, and we are nearly at Christmas. The gospel reading is Matthew’s account of how Joseph found out that, despite his reservations, he was going to be a foster-father to a baby boy.
Christmas will soon be over. And we’ll be counting the cost of all those unwanted Christmas gifts.
Recent surveys from the online classified advert website Gumtree showed that when the cost of all those unwanted gifts is added up it is estimated that they are worth over £2.4 billion (2011 survey). On average each of us will receive two presents we don’t want worth around £45. And the top givers of unwanted presents (also from the 2011 survey) are mothers, aunts, and mothers-in-law. Continue reading
The Sunday after Christmas is also the Sunday following the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, so we celebrate Saint John and Chrismas combined! We used the readings for the feast of Saint John, hence the gospel reading. I should also add that I am grateful to The Times Newspaper for its reporting over the Christmas period, without which this sermon would not have been possible, as the quotes from newspapers of the past came from its pages – well worth the subscription!
As we gather here today, we look back over a week that has seen three special birthdays.
This week saw a momentous birthday, one very important one for us to remember today. 131 years ago this month the foundation stone of our church was laid. And a year later, on 27th December 1882, the new parish church of Saint John the Evangelist was consecrated – 130 years old this week. And how times have changed over the years for the Church – both for St John’s and for the Church of England as a whole. Today perhaps our biggest issue is when we are going to get women bishops. We already, of course, have women priests. Yet even relatively recently such concepts would have baffled the people who sat in the pews at St John’s.
Let’s go back to the early days of Saint John’s, over a hundred and twenty years ago. A woman’s place was most definitely in the home, and not in the house of bishops. In 1895 the Isle of Man Times gave the following advice:
Don’t argue with your husband; do whatever he tells you and obey all his orders. Continue reading
The story of the birth of Jesus told by the people of Bethlehem. I think this speaks for itself.
John the Baptist again this week! Here’s what I said.
Getting to heaven is as easy as one, two, three. Well – at least that’s what most devout Jews thought at the time of Jesus who were under the impression that simply being a Jew more or less guaranteed you your place unless you were particularly evil. At least, most thought that. The Sadducees didn’t believe in life after death – for them there was no heaven – that’s why they were sad you see. (Groans from congregation!) But for most, it seemed fairly straight forward – as easy as one, two, three. And today’s message from John the Baptist is – don’t kid yourself. Don’t think that just because Abraham is your ancestor your place in heaven is guaranteed.
Now, I don’t know what’s come over me this Advent but I keep thinking of old songs – last week as we thought about repentance it was Brenda Lee and “I’m sorry” from 1960. Today it’s Eddie Cochran. You may remember his famous song, also from 1960, Three steps to heaven: Continue reading
Here we are – Advent Sunday. And I wouldn’t mind betting that even though Advent is still only a few hours old you’re already, most of you, thinking about Christmas. In vicarworld we can beat that – we’re already planning Lent and Easter. So let’s just think about Easter for a moment and the words of Saint Augustine: “We are an Easter people – and Hallelujah is our song”.