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
We had a really full church for Midnight Mass this year. As always, the gospel reading was the wonderful prologue of Saint John’s gospel.
On Christmas Day in 1977 over half the population of the United Kingdom did exactly the same thing at the same time. 28 million 835 thousand of us in this country sat down to watch the same television programme at the same time on Christmas Day. And it wasn’t the Queen’s speech! It was …….any guesses I wonder? It was the Continue reading
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