Christmas Eve / 4th Sunday of Advent
“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given…”
In Bethlehem, the world’s most earth-shattering event is happening. Humanity is receiving a gift. A gift that meets all the hopes and fears of all the years. There is no fanfare. No trumpets. Mortals sleep. The silent stars go by. And a King is born. The baby – God’s son – lies asleep in a manger. Continue reading
4th Sunday of Advent – Christmas Eve
We are here. The 4th Sunday in Advent. Christmas Eve. The season of waiting for the coming of Christ. We’ve been to carol services, started on mince pies and watched the nativity plays.
Last Sunday I was at the Ballyholme children’s nativity. In it, the little Angel tells the little Joseph the amazing things that would happen – how Mary, his fiancée, was going to have a baby, but it was God’s plan. Joseph listens, pauses, and responds with a beautifully underwhelmed, “oh, OK.” Continue reading
When I was an undergraduate in Sri Lanka I was shocked by what a friend whispered to me during a prayer meeting. “I know which of the boys I can marry,” she confided. I looked at her blankly. While everyone’s eyes were closed, she went round the circle indicating with her eyes, whispering “him, not him, not him, him…I think him.” Continue reading
Are you a troublemaker? This is what Paul and Silas are called in Philippi. They were accused of troubling the city. Today, Christians are rarely viewed as troublemakers. In fact, the church today is riddled with respectability. Continue reading
The film Trainspotting opens with John Hodges’ cynical poem that uses the same phrase, “Choose life”, that we read of in Deuteronomy, in a bitter rejection of life and its meaningless choices:
“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big Television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electric tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage… Choose your future. Choose life.” Continue reading
We are big on doing things our own way. We often say “I have the right to live my life the way I choose”. As a child, I upheld this virtuously – and often told adults “I will do it my way”. It drove adults around me nuts. And because spanking was common, back then, my wanting to do things my way often also left me smarting. Yet it never stopped me.
But isn’t “doing things our way” a norm for adult life as well? Continue reading
There is an image used by James May (one of the Top Gear lads) that has stuck in my mind – I may have mentioned it to some of you. He was presenting a series, “The 20th Century”, which explored the changes that made the last century so distinctive. One of these revolutionary changes was the coming of electricity. The Earth, viewed from space, is no longer dark – it is a glowing globe. Our habits, our interests, our occupations, our very world have all been transformed. Continue reading
26th January, 3rd Sunday of Epiphany
As a child I always encountered Christmas in three phases. First came Anticipation and Expectation; then Christmas itself; and finally, The New Year with its resolutions and new beginnings.
As a child, anticipation ran high. Approaching Christmas the atmosphere was fragrant with baking and sweetmaking… the promise of good times. Continue reading
28 April 2013, 5th Sunday of Easter
Many years ago, as a student in Nottingham, I experienced something that continues to remind me of Jesus’ words that we read this evening. “Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another.”
A vicar and his wife offered me accommodation in the rectory flat. I accepted the offer, because I took an instant liking to David, the vicar, and Pixie, his wife and their four children. I discovered that the flat was rent free but it was also semi-derelict, and completely bare. Its walls needed stripping, and it had no kitchen and no furniture. I returned to Sri Lanka for three months due to family illness and began to worry about how I would sort the flat. Then Pixie emailed me: the church would take care of it. Continue reading
28 April 2013, 5th Sunday of Easter
The news this week was dominated by the tragic collapse of a clothing factory in the Savar district of Bangladesh. Three hundred and fifty people have died– so far. Six months ago, a fire gutted another factory, killing hundred workers. In the past decade seven hundred have died in forty similar disasters in the clothing factories of Savar. The sad truth is that thousands of workers return, day after day, to dangerous factories, to produce clothes for high street brands – for us!
All these things happen in faraway countries, to people of whom we know little. Apart from compassion and pity, how should we respond?