Tagged: nativity

Strike a light!

40776907 - one candle flame at night closeup

Sermon for the Midnight Mass, on the prologue to John’s Gospel.

John 1.1-14

 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

In the beginning God had been very busy creating things. And it was tiring! So God said: Wow! I’m worn out. I’ve just created a 24-hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth.

The angel said: What are you going to do now?

And God said: I think I’ll call it a day! Continue reading

How will the baby grow up?


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.

John 1.1-14

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

You can’t always get what you want


The holy family

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.

Matthew 1.18-end

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

Christmas Day – the sermon from Midnight Mass


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.

John 1.1-14

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

4th Sunday of Advent – and what I said about the Blessed Virgin Mary


The gospel reading for the 4th Sunday of Advent this year was Luke’s account of the Annunciation, the visit of the archangel Gabriel to Mary to announce the forthcoming arrival of a special child. Here’s what I said.

Luke 1.26-38

History is full of ‘What ifs’. What would have happened if particular events had turned out differently. What would have happened if people – world leaders, influential office holders – had made different decisions? What would the world look like today?

In a week that has seen the announcement of the first woman bishop in the Church of England it is interesting to reflect that if a particular person had, at some point in the past, said ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ the announcement would not have been made. And if you’re wondering who I mean then let me explain. Continue reading

4th Sunday of Advent – What I said


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.

Matthew 1.18-25

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

What I said on Sunday – The Blessed Virgin Mary


Last Thursday was the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary – also known as the Assumption in the Roman Catholic Church and The Dormition in the Orthodox Church. We transferred the feast to the following Sunday. Here’s what I said.

Revelation 11.19-12.6, 10; Luke 1.46-55

It’s not easy knowing whether someone is called to be a priest in the Church. For the Church is not like other careers. It doesn’t matter how highly qualified you are or how able you might be – the Church has to decide whether God actually wants you to be a priest regardless of what your other qualifications might be. Important, of course, for the church to be able to discern the kind of people that God is calling. So the Church provides a very helpful 24-page document entitled Criteria for Selection for the Ordained Ministry in the Church of England. And the introduction to the guide covers such aspects of the selection procedures as:

  • The vocation criterion
  • Gathering evidence
  • Assessing potential and risk
  • Developmental and non-developmental issues

and the guide goes on to cover various aspects of a person’s makeup: spirituality, relationships, personality and character, leadership and collaboration, faith and so on – and I particularly like this one – quality of mind. All important stuff, of course. I wonder whether God’s ever read it? Continue reading