There’s Myrrh To Come!

reyes

Preached at St Thomas, Kensal Town, W10

The Epiphany of Our Lord (5 January) 2020 (year A)

Isaiah 60.1-6, Psalm 72.1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3.1-12, S Matthew 2.1-12

 

“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.” In Nomine + ….

Does anyone remember whose birthday we celebrated almost two weeks ago? Anyone?

You’re right – it was Jesus. And what do you sometimes get on your birthday – if you’ve been nice?

That’s right again – presents. And as we just heard in the Gospel, Jesus did indeed receive presents. He was given gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now, my final question – who brought them the gift?

Right again, ten points! The wise men. The bible doesn’t tell us much about those men who came to see the newborn Christchild. They were all sent to Bethlehem by king Herod, who wanted to see where the Christchild was, as he felt that Jesus would be a competing power, so Herod would be setting out to kill Jesus. In fact, later on in St Matthew’s gospel we are told the story about how Herod killed all the young boys in and around Bethlehem. That’s how frightened Herod was of Jesus.

We are told that they had come from afar – the Bible says “wise men from the east”. Some traditions call them kings, some magi (or Zoroastrian priests and astrologers), and the gospel says “wise men”. Legend says that there were three of them;

  • Caspar came from India and brought frankincense
  • Melchior came from Persia and brought gold and finally
  • Balthazar came from Arabia and brought myrrh.

Let us unpick this a little bit. The three men must have had an idea of who they were going to meet, as they all came bearing gifts worthy for a king – frankincense was frequently used as a perfume, myrrh as an oil for anointing (or blessing) and the hold was obviously then – as now – very valuable. So, gifts fit for a king – THE King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

The gifts could also be seen as prophecy of what was to come for the Christchild – gold for virtue, frankincense for prayer and myrrh for suffering.

There are many traditions surrounding the three wise men, once of which we will do today – the blessing of chalk with which to bless your house, using the letters C M B – Christus Mansionem Benedictat (“Christ Bless this House” or, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. In Spain, it is common for the three kings to return to provide the kids with even more gifts, climbing rope ladders up the facades of houses and through the windows.

But, anyway, enough with the crash course in the anthropology of religion. There is, as it were, myrrh to come – let us go back to their journey, way back then over 2,000 years ago. They all came far – it would have taken Caspar about 1,100 hours to walk (that’s 46 days, or a month and a half). Melchior would have had to walk for 16 days and Balthazar approximately 24 days. Imagine having to walk for that long, most likely bearing heavy gifts, and then – as the gospel say – kneeling down and paying homage to the Christchild. “Those were the days”, as my old grandmother would have said.

Call them what you want, but these three men were setting a good example for us! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to get you out walking for over a month if you don’t feel like it, but these men, who first came to Jerusalem and asked for the new born King of Man, had something to teach us.

But what could three Zoroastrian priests who lived over 2,000 years ago teach us? Maybe it’s not about moving to another country, maybe we cannot find it even by stargazing. Maybe the beacon for us isn’t actually something bright in the sky, maybe it’s about listening to what God wants for us in 2020 – through the beacon of His Word, both as in holy Scripture and in His Incarnate Word, His Son, Our Lord.  If this is our beacon, it means that our faith in Him should guide us and what we do with our life.

How willing are we to seek and follow our vocation and act accordingly? The magi left what was well known to them, walked through the deserts with a goal in sight – they weren’t only seekers but also finders! They found what they were looking for and left as new men.

How can I be so sure about that? Because meeting Jesus changes you! They didn’t follow the star to Bethlehem look at a little child, to cuddle and admire a bit and then leave. No – the gospel tells us that they knelt and adored him, overwhelmed with joy. To adore and pay homage is not to come to God with a list of wants and needs, but to come to Him, acknowledging that He is God and we are men.

This is what we do – what we are doing – here today. We come to God, confessing our sins, trusting in His forgiveness through the very same child that the three wise men found in a manger in Bethlehem. We give Him homage in the Gloria, and then, right after the sermon, we will confess our Christian faith. In the Agnus Dei we once again ask God to have mercy on us and to grant us His peace, and then, in the Eucharist, we receive the ultimate promise through the Body and Blood of Christ, and by receiving it we acknowledge that He IS God.

In the 1662 liturgy, the Mass starts with the prayer that “we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name” – and that is, indeed, what we are doing with our hearts here in Church today (and in many, many Christian churches all over the world), and that is, indeed, what Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar followed the star to that lonely stable to do all those years ago.

“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.” In Nomine + ….

Posted in Preaching | Tagged | Leave a comment

Et Verbum caro factum est!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

S Luke 2.1-20 KJV

A very Merry Christmas to each and every one who reads this!

Posted in Church, Miscellanea | Tagged | Leave a comment

REVIEW: Free Tours By Foot -East End Graffiti and Street Art Tour

img_7223.jpeg

Over the last few days I have had my friend Monika visiting from Sweden, and yesterday we decided to go on a guided tour. After searching the internet, I decided on the East End Graffiti and Street Art Tour by Free Tours By Foot. Free Tours By Foot offer guided tours in some European and some American cities, and they call themselves free, as you don’t technically have to pay, but rather you pay as much as you think the tour was worth/you can afford to the guide at the end of the tour. It is an interesting concept, and I have been on one of their tours once before.  The tour we went on is described like so:

The alternative, trendy, and recently gentrified, London’s East End is one of the most vibrant and exciting areas in town – and Free Tours By Foot is ready to help you discover the art, history, and outrageous stories that help make the East End the vibrant part of London that nobody wants to miss!

The guide, being a graffiti writer himself, was highly knowledgable and took us around many nooks and crannies I had never seen before, and was also able to tell us about the artworks in depth, alongside the various techniques and styles involved in graffiti and street art. Many of the pieces are technically very advanced, alongside being very handsome pieces of art in their own right.

As an added extra, the fact that the guide was a graffiti writer himself, meant that he knew many of the other artists personally and could give us some insight into their stories as well as his own, something that made the tour even more interesting. Some of the stories were quite interesting, including the poor artist who went from being in and out of jail and struggling with drugs to being made famous through David Cameron, and who now sells his art for 5 figure prices.

I have to confess, that despite liking the aesthetics of street art as such, it’s a subculture I know precious little about, and I have, in all honesty, seen graffiti writers as little more than people doing criminal damage to other peoples’ property. I won’t say I have changed my mind, but I now know that there is much more to it than that, including a great sense of community and belonging.

All in all, I thoroughly recommend this tour, as well as Free Tours By Foot in general (in fact, we found the tour so good that we paid what would have been the asking price for an ordinary tour!).

I don’t get any commission for writing this post, I just felt it was so good I had to recommend it to others 🙂 

Posted in London, Reviews, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A New Month, A New Life?

BxL4910ZTYeKph2Qm9GYsw.jpg

Most of the people who follow this blog will probably know by now that I was rejected by my BAP, and so won’t start to train for the priesthood for at least another 2 years. The ins and outs behind this, and what followed leaves me with a fair few rather catty observations, so for now, I shall not explore that subject further..

However, as the future I had carefully planned for was turned upside down, I found myself needing a job – badly. It was a prospect I wasn’t looking forward to at all. The last time I tried applying for jobs in the UK I had to apply for 386 jobs before I finally managed to find full-time employment. However, now having both a UK degree and some work history to show in the UK, I found myself being rather popular, in fact, I applied for less than 20 jobs and had about 6 invites to interviews. In the end, I was offered, and accepted, a dream job – Operations Manager at Galop – the UK’s only LGBT specific anti-violence charity.

I have been there for almost a month now, and it’s fair to say that I am loving it so far. The job is lovely, and the team is great. Of course, being back in my beloved London is a great added bonus! Another thing to put on the list of superlatives about my current life is that I have ended up worshipping in a church where a close friend is the incumbent, and so I’ve already been back in the cassock twice since I left Oxford.

On Saturday, I will also be back marching at London Pride – the first time ever marching here in London and the first time marching in a Pride since 2004. With the state of the world – and recent events – it is more important than usual to march, and on Saturday, more than ever for me, it most certainly feels like Pride will be a protest, not a party.

Anyway, I will hopefully be more active on the blog now that I will have a life worth blogging about again.

(The picture was taken by me on my recent 10-mile walk from Blackfriars to Canary Wharf – gotta love a summery London!)

Posted in LGBT, London | 1 Comment

God Save the Queen!

Sermon given at Evensong on the 67th Anniversary of the
Accession of HM Queen Elizabeth II
(6 February 2019)
In the Chapel of the Resurrection, Pusey House, Oxford

Readings: Proverbs 8.1-17; Romans 13.1-11

Father: all those words and thoughts which come from thee – whilst thou bless them and make them fruitful. And all those words and thoughts that come not from thee but from our own vanity – wilt thou forgive. Amen

It is something reassuringly Anglican and English to have a separate service in the prayer book for the Accession of the reigning Sovereign. Today, as we have done in the Church of England for over 60 years, we pray for Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth Realms.

During her 67 year reign she has seen 12 prime ministers, 7 Archbishops of Canterbury and 7 popes and she has had 237 streets named after her. There are people receiving old-age pension in England today who have never lived to see another queen, and she is probably also the reigning monarch in the world who is married to the worst driver….

However, despite all these interesting factual nuggets, what I was planning to focus on tonight was another of her titles (and no, it’s neither her Maori title of The White Heron, nor her freemanship of the town of Long Beach, California…): Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

When we listen to today’s reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, it is perhaps not surprising that the Coronation Rite contains a fair few elements of the Ordination Rite: the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (or, in English – Come Holy Ghost Our Souls Inspire), the Archiepiscopal laying-on of hands and the anointing with Holy Oil, and part of the Coronation Robes include a stole (worn in the fashion of a Bishop) and a cope.

While this very reading can be read in a very problematic fashion – something I believe Fr Mark dealt with in his sermon last Sunday – what I want to focus on is one single sentence – “for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing”. I want to say that that is exactly what Her Majesty have done, throughout her 67 years as our Queen and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Not only is she explicitly called to do so in the coronation rite – when she’s given the sword by the Archbishop, she’s told:

With this sword do justice,
stop the growth of iniquity,
protect the holy Church of God,
help and defend widows and orphans,
restore the things that are gone to decay,
maintain the things that are restored,
punish and reform what is amiss,
and confirm what is in good order.

As recently as in her 2018 Christmas Day televised speech, she gave examples of her reliance on her personal faith to sustain her in her work, and it is there that I think that we as Christians, and perhaps especially as Christians in a setting where we consider our vocation, be that lay or ordained.

In Her Majesty we see someone who has gone through her fair share of hardships, and has drawn her strength to cope with these struggles from her relationship with God. This is not to say that God is a marketable cosmetic – a foundation maker by Royal Appointment, although I suspect she does apply it, or rather immerse herself in it every day. It is, extraordinarily, not expensive to buy – although it demands our whole life to enjoy it to the full. And it is far from a Royal Exclusive – it is, of course, available to everyone.

We find these themes, as you would expect, written deeply into the coronation service itself, but also revisited week by week – even day by day – in churches throughout the land. It’s worth looking up the coronation service that I’ve already quoted from. You will find in there the conviction that as Head of State, the Queen is also – as we have already heard – the defender of the faith – she is responsible at the same time for her people’s material and spiritual wellbeing.: country and faith belong together in the history of this land of ours.

At her coronation, the Queen made these oaths: to govern; to uphold justice and mercy; to maintain the ‘Laws of God and true profession of the Gospel’ and the life of the Church of England. … Then, she was presented with a Bible, described in the service as “the most valuable thing that this world affords … Here is Wisdom; This is the Royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God.” So, what is this wisdom which I have claimed is the Queen’s secret of success, which we might choose to follow?

She knew at her coronation that God had appointed her to the task, and others had confirmed this – it was neither self‐serving, not a random notion that had come unbidden into her head. Her strength has come from a conviction that God was responsible for putting her in this position – so it was now upon God that she could rely to find the strength, the wisdom, and the perspective to fulfill her duties.
The second reading, of course, underlined this sense of calling – of God’s ordering, if you like, of society. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God.” Now this can be used to justify all sorts of abuse, and has been over the centuries – but only by those who strip the second half of the verse from its context.

Even the King, or the Queen, serves God. Every Friday, in our Book of Common Prayer communion service the priest prays that God would: “so rule the heart of thy chosen servant ELIZABETH, our Queen and Governor, that she (knowing whose minister she is) may above all things seek thy honour and glory” The Queen does not actually serve us, nor does she serve the nation – she serves God, and He holds our best interests, our material and spiritual wellbeing, in his heart.

It is this above all else, I believe, that has given her strength, and the ability, almost without fail, to hold an even keel, a steady passage, throughout her ministry as Queen, as her eyes have been upon Him. For it is, truly, a ministry – an act undertaken for the sake of God. Those who hold public office, and are called to public service, who do so in order to serve the state, or the community, or, heaven help us, themselves or their party, give their lives to serve something which is less than perfect ‐ and thereby run the greater risk of abusing others. Something which it might be wise to keep in mind these days more than ever…

There is no cause other than God who is truly to be trusted with our human destiny. Our Queen has demonstrated that to be so, and demonstrated, I believe, the sustainability, and generosity of spirit that flourishes when it is rooted in the grace and love of God. And so her cue is taken from obedience to God’s command, and the concluding words of our second lesson: Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. We are a nation who are loved by our Queen, as she offers her life in obedience to her calling from God. May we be inspired to do the same.

And so, therefore, let us pray, using slightly revised words of the penultimate verse of the version of the National Anthem found in the Stuckey Coles Club hymnal:

From every latent foe
From the assassins’ blow
God save The Queen
O’er her Thine arm extend
For Britain’s sake defend
Our mother, queen and friend
God save The Queen!
Amen.

Posted in Preaching | Leave a comment

Rejoice in the Lord!

Sermon preached on the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) in St Bartholomew’s Church, Yarnton. Readings: Zephaniah 3.14-20, Philippians 4.4-7 & S Luke 3.7-18.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit. Amen.

It is a rather interesting combination of readings today, for once the Old Testament seems to be the more positive and encouraging one – emphasising the saving and caring nature of the Lord, and then, surprise, surprise, an exuberant and joyful Saint Paul, and then John the Baptist calling his audience a brood of vipers…..

I don’t intend to insult any of you here today by comparing you to a viper, so let’s instead focus on the theme of this Sunday – Gaudete.

The name of this Sunday comes from the Latin translation of the introit sung at some High Masses on this day, but we can just as well claim that it comes from the Philippians reading we heard a few minutes ago, Gaudete means rejoice in Latin, and that rejoicing goes through the readings today as a theme, but more about that later…

As we can see, today Father Oliver is pretty in pink – or, well, we are apparently not supposed to call it pink…. The colour is known as rose, some people claim to signify that Christ rose from the dead (He certainly didn’t pink from the dead….). We change colours to signify that this is a Sunday of rejoicing, rather than of penitence, and as you can see on the advent wreath, the candle for the Third Sunday of Advent is rose as well.

So, rejoice. Advent in general is known to be a time of preparation, preparation for the coming of Christ by repentance, abstinence and penitence. Today, however, we focus on joyful expectation, after all, we see both Paul and Luke discuss the imminent coming of Christ. The theologian Henry Nouwen describes joy very beautifully thus: the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing – sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death – can take that love away.

It is that joy we are looking forward to, the joy expressed in both the Old Testament reading and in the Epistle. But do we see this joy in the Gospel as well?

Picture the scene. It’s 2000 years ago. You’re a God- fearing Jew who lives in Galilee. You’ve heard stories of a strange, wild but wise man out in the desert who is bringing some new teaching about God. He is baptising people in water. You decide, along with some friends to make the dangerous journey out into the desert to hear him for yourself, what’s this amazing new message he has? You’ve been walking for a good couple of hours and eventually you find the crowd around this man called John. He’s dressed strangely in rough camel skin and is sitting in silence under the shade of a tree. You wait for something to happen. Looking around the silent, shifting and expectant crowd you notice a few Roman soldiers, their armour glinting in the sun and even some tax collectors. You look down – not a good idea to get spotted by these men.

Suddenly, John leaps to his feet, a stern look in his eye and shouts “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” You’re taken aback. How could he be so rude? Strangely though, you want to hear more. You hang on his every word and so does everyone in the crowd. His teaching is so powerful that you wonder if he could be the messiah, God’s anointed one, the one your people have been waiting for. As soon as this thought enters your mind John says: “I baptise you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming: I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire”

Did you spot the joy in the story? Let’s see if we can find it.
Advent is about expectation – in our reading today it says that the crowd were full of expectation. We, in the run up to Christmas are also full of expectation. Where do you expect to find the presence of God?

John the Baptist was sent by God to point to the coming of Jesus Christ. In today’s Gospel reading, Luke gives us some hints as to what the good news about the kingdom is, some ideas of what to expect the world will look like when Jesus is around.

There are 3 clues in this story. The first is in the kind of people that gather around John. Some people there are Jews – who are pretty confident that they’re God’s chosen people. Then we have two other groups that you wouldn’t expect to be there – some tax collectors – unpleasant individuals who often took more money than they were supposed to in taxes working for the Roman government (Having worked as an accountant for ten years, I will not comment on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs…)

The other group are Roman soldiers from the hated occupying forces. These are the people who are attracted to John, not just religious people but other folk, foreigners and outcasts. So the first clue about the good news is that God’s kingdom is for everyone. Every time I come to church I’m reminded of this fact – we have people here from many nations and backgrounds – and we’re all united by our love for Jesus.

The second clue is in John’s teaching. He tells the people to give to those who are in need and to live in an honest way in order to please God. He doesn’t, as we might expect, tell the soldiers and tax collectors to stop working for the Romans: he’s more interested in the intentions of their hearts. He uses the imagery of growing fruit. John is telling the people that it’s no good going through the motions with God – our lives are made good by the evidence we produce – by their fruit. God isn’t interested in what the world thinks looks good, He looks deep into our motivations. John’s baptism was one of repentance. The word repentance, in Greek, metanoia, means to change your mind or to turn around – to see the world in a different way. Doesn’t John’s teaching sound a lot like the teaching of Jesus?

The third clue about the good news of the kingdom is that something is coming that is even better than we expected. John says, “you think I’m exciting? Wait until you meet the one that comes after me!”So in a desert, a dry place, a place of desolation we hear a voice bringing good news.. The wise men whose arrival we celebrate at epiphany in January went looking for a king in a sensible place – the palace in Jerusalem. Is that where they found God? No, they found a small child in a small forgotten area on the edge of Jerusalem. If we went looking for God today, would we expect to find him in the Town Hall or would He surprise us by being found in a the poorest areas of our town on the edge of the city?

Our God is a God of surprises. Here we have found God in a desert place. We don’t always find God where we expect him to be. But he is here with us, God with us, Emmanuel. This is the joy we find on Gaudete Sunday.

Today we can rejoice because God’s kingdom is coming, here in the desert place, a kingdom where everyone is welcome, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female – people who worship a God who can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Posted in Preaching | Leave a comment

An advent sermon…

Preached on Wednesday in the First Week of Advent 2018

The Chapel of the Resurrection, Pusey House, Oxford

Readings (KJV): Isaiah 8.16-9.7, James 2.14-end.


“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The writings of James are perhaps not what we want to hear in the middle of this month of over-indulgent shopping, eating and drinking, but there we are – it is in the lessons appointed for tonight, and they are eerily similar to the readings we heard on Monday evening – where James admonishes us to be “doers of the word and not hearers only”, and yesterday he further beat us up last night, reminding us of the one of the ten commandments I personally struggle the most with – “Love thy neighbour as thyself”.


There’s almost as if there would be a thought behind the way the lectionary is put together…


To hear all of this during the busiest shopping month of the year, (the Christmas shopping in the UK last year was worth almost £79 billions!) to me almost feels like a slap in the face.


Even more so, when we see one of the largest economies in the world fires teargas on innocent children seeking refuge. Apparently there was no room for them in the inn…


We need not even look across the Atlantic Ocean… Here, in England’s green and pleasant land, the food bank use has increased with more than 52% since the roll out of Universal Credit in the areas where it has been adopted as general policy, and Oxford has more people per capita sleeping rough than most other places in England.


Almost every Sunday at High Mass in this very chapel, we hear the priest recite the Summary of the Law, in which we find the words “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, to which we all reply “Lord, have mercy upon us and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee”.


Does it sound like something that needs repeating?


To me, it actually feels like James wrote his letter to us in present-day western society, rather than in the late first century, and that he sees us in our bleakness and failings in asking what we, ever weekday at noon,  ask the Blessed Virgin to pray for us to become – “That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ”.


It is not exactly as if this call to care for the vulnerable is unique to James either – in Matthew’s gospel, in the story where Jesus puts himself in the position of the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick and the prisoner, He Himself declares: “ Verily I say unto you – Inasmuch as ye did it not to the least of these, ye did it not to me”.


So, having now been beaten hard with Scripture – what can we do then? If it is as James said that faith without works is dead, then what are the works?


Can I suggest that we do what Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in his sermon at the Royal Wedding earlier this year:


“Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way.”


Imagine.

In my imagination that leads us towards a world where we all manage to keep both faith and works together, not in tension, but as in parts of the same whole.


I can see a world where all of us God’s people, will keep Christ in Christmass not only by keeping Mass in Christmass but also by seeing Christ in our neighbour, by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the lonely, protecting the oppressed and vulnerable, and sheltering the homeless.


I can see a world in which we prepare for the coming of Our Lord and Saviour not only by buying the most advanced toys, or by cooking the most elaborate Christmas meal or by having the straightest lines walked by the servers at Midnight Mass, but also by doing those good deeds that the same Christ has commanded us to do.


A homily is perhaps not the best place to list all the things you can do, even if you cannot fit in volunteering at the foodbank or at the Samaritans into your busy schedule, but there are many charity shops that will happily accept that Christmas gift from old aunt Joan that you simply don’t like, or many charities selling Christmas cards where part of the profits go to the charity, or indeed many charities that would welcome a penny or two.


However, I think it might be equally as much, if not even more so, about a change of outlook, a heartfelt change of priorities, and so, let us pray:


Lord, when we strive after healing in the world and nourishment for those who hunger, we find you on our side. Whenever we long to see your face, help us not to avoid the corners of our communities where you most often dwell. Stir our hearts that we might seek and find you today in those places where you have promised to be. Amen.


Posted in Preaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment