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
This week the gospel reading was the story from John of Jesus providing lots of wine for a wedding reception. So much for cutting down our alcohol intake as one of our New Year resolutions!
It can’t have escaped your notice that the U.K. Chief Medical Officer has introduced new limits on the maximum amount of alcohol that it is recommended people drink. I’ve come up with a solution for those who find this a problem. The solution if you don’t want to cut down, is to change your nationality to Spanish if you’re a man, as their limit is two and a half times as much. And if you’re a woman? Adopt Japanese nationality where women, unlike men, are given no maximum at all.
And not only that, the Chief Medical Officer made it clear that any amount of alcohol at all was dangerous. Well, what a good job the Chief Medical Officer wasn’t a guest at the wedding at Cana. What would she have had to say, I wonder? Continue reading
Last Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Advent, and as we approach Christmas our thoughts turn towards the coming nativity. This year, being the year of Luke, our gospel reading gives us Mary’s visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth, and her famous song of praise the Magnificat.
Don’t you sometimes have a great day – a day when the sun is shining and the birds are singing and the temperature is just right. A day when you feel really good. A day when, as you’re walking down the street you feel like bursting into song and singing, “Oh, what a beautiful morning!” Because it’s a beautiful day and like Howard Keel in Oklahoma you’ve got a beautiful feeling that everything’s going your way. Perhaps you feel like that this morning! Well, perhaps not! Particularly this close to Christmas Day with so much still to do to get ready. But most of us have a day like that now and then – just not as often as we would like. Continue reading
The gospel reading for last Sunday was the story from Saint John of Mary, Martha and Lazarus entertaining Jesus. And Mary pours perfume on Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair. Here’s what I said.
In the name of the Living God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
I’m going to begin with a story – a true story. It is told by William G Carter , a Presbyterian Pastor from Pennsylvania. He writes:
I will never forget the furor sparked at a stewardship conference at which an ecumenical group of pastors gathered to discuss generosity. One presenter spoke about offering a gift directly to God, and the clergy began to yawn. Then he pulled a $100 bill from his wallet, set it on fire in an ashtray, and prayed, “Lord, I offer this gift to you, and you alone.” The reaction was electric. Clergy began to fidget in their chairs, watching that [banknote] go up in smoke as if it were perfume. One whispered it was illegal to burn currency. Another was heard to murmur, “If he is giving money away, perhaps he has a few more.” “Do you not understand,” said the speaker. “I am offering it to God, and that means it is going to cease to be useful for the rest of us.”
Today’s gospel is about burning money. Continue reading
Last Sunday we kept the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It should, of course, really be on the 15th and in recent years we have kept it on the sunday of the octave. This year we were just a little bit naughty and pre-empted the feast. Here’s my sermon
Today we come together to honour the mother of Jesus. Every year on or around the 15th August Christians around the world come together to give thanks for the role played by Mary in bringing about our salvation. For without Mary’s “yes” to God there would have been no incarnation. Continue reading
Slightly late this week. I spent rather a lot of time yesterday shovelling snow and trying to get the car as far as the main road!
Those of you who have ventured beyond the door of my study will probably have noticed the icons that hang upon the wall. Icons, of course, are a feature of Orthodox churches and Orthodox worship, but are increasingly finding their way into the devotion of other Christians. One example I have here with me this morning. This is what is known as a travelling icon. It is a small, foldable, set of icons depicting Jesus in the centre, with his mother Mary on the left and John the Baptist on the right, and is designed so that it may be taken with you when you travel away from home.
If you are into art in any way you may have immediately thought – ah, that’s a triptych. You might not – but don’t worry, I’m about to explain what a triptych is. Continue reading