Homily St Mary’s Marlborough, 23rd December 2018, 8am
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Micah 5.2-5a & Luke 1.39-55
We have come to the fourth Sunday of Advent. As Christmas itself is approaching, the season of preparation is coming to an end. So, maybe today is an opportunity to take stock: what difference has Advent made for us this year? What have we noticed, and how has it changed us?
Over these last few weeks, we have been accompanied by readings from the Prophets, and our Gospel readings have been speaking about judgement, asking us the question how ready we are to receive it. In those readings, we have been told how God prepared people throughout the ages to welcome the Word made flesh. Through them, we have been invited too, to see ourselves as part of the continuing story. However, now as people who are not only expecting a Messiah, but as people who have encountered the risen Christ.
Continue reading “Taking stock”
Sermon St John the Baptist Mildenhall, 16th December 2018
Third Sunday of Advent: Philippians 4.4-7 & Luke 3.7-18
The readings set for this third Sunday of Advent seem to be not quite the same in their message. Whereas Paul tries to reassure the Christians in Philippi by saying “Do not worry about anything”, John the Baptist, on the other hand, seems to have completely the opposite message: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” So, what should we do? Worry, or not?
I think the answer is ‘both’, which makes this message particularly suited for this season of Advent. As we draw nearer to the 25th of December, many of us will have started worrying about the logistics of Christmas. Have we ordered the turkey? Have I got my presents? Am I still on time for posting my Christmas cards? And, what will the weather be like for those of us travelling? Indeed, lots to worry about.
Continue reading “Care more, worry less”
Homily St John the Baptist Mildenhall, 9th December 2018
Second Sunday of Advent: Baruch 5.1-9 & Luke 3.1-6
The readings we hear on Sundays follow a three year cycle. Each year, one of the three synoptic Gospels has a main part to play. This Church year, which started last week on Advent Sunday, our main focus will be on Luke’s Gospel. As some of you may know, Luke is maybe most famous for his story-telling: it is through his narrative and through his characters that we start to understand who Jesus is, and who God is.
This morning’s reading starts by a very precise explanation of the time and circumstances of the preaching of John the Baptist. Maybe even more important than the historical accuracy is the theological reasons for mentioning these particular rules. In a way, it already foreshadows the last week of Jesus’ life and ministry, and his encounters with Pilate and Herod before he will be crucified.
Continue reading “The message, not the messenger”
Sermon Marlborough College Chapel, 2nd December 2018
First Sunday of Advent: Luke 21.25-36
Admittedly, it is a slightly obscure reading this morning. Unusual for the writer of this Gospel, as normally he is a great storyteller. It is through Luke that we hear about the Shepherds at Jesus’ birth. He is also the one who included the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Lost Son, both well-known and well-loved by many. But not so in today’s reading, where Jesus is talking about the future. He is talking to his disciples, just before he enters the last week of his life, just before Judas sets out to betray him, with everything that follows. So why this reading today? Surely, there must be better choices in this season of Advent, as we are approaching Christmas?
Continue reading “Be ready!”
Marlborough College Chapel Morning Address
Advent: Simeon and Anna
As some of you who know me, may have realised by now: I am not very good at waiting. Fortunately, I have discovered since I have been here, that I am not the only one, as many of you are not very good at it either. Although, I guess, it does have something to do with age, so I should at least have learnt a bit by now.
The poem on which this reflection is based, Wait and See by Richard Bauckham, mentions two people, two very old people, who have spent their whole lives waiting. They are Simeon and Anna. Simeon and Anna are not a couple, but they are two individual people who lived at the time that Jesus was born, over two thousand years ago. What they do have in common, is that they were waiting for Jesus to be born. Simeon had been told in a dream or a vision that before he would die, he would see the Saviour of the world.
Continue reading “Wait and see”
An early Advent reflection, written for Marlborough’s Tower & Town
It is late November, and Advent will be upon us soon. Advent: a time of preparation for Christmas. However, for many of us, the preparations already started weeks ago. Looking at the shops, listening to the radio, and walking down the High Street, it feels more like Advent being the beginning of our Christmas celebrations, not a time of preparation and expectation.
Of course, there is a practical aspect to it. We need to give Royal Mail their time to deliver our cards, and those of us who are not on Amazon Prime, will have to get our Christmas presents in good time. We may also be worried that if we leave it too late, there will be no mulled wine, no mince pies, and no turkey left. Also, for many of us, the evenings fill up quickly: concerts, receptions and drinks parties. We’d better get our own event in the diary early, before people have already committed to something else. Continue reading “Christmas: Wait for it!?”
How do we re-orient ourselves to God?
A sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61.1-4,8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24 and John 1.6-8,19-28
On the third Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist is our central figure. During the four Sundays in Advent, we start with the patriarchs, followed by the prophets, John the Baptist, and Mary, the Mother of God on the fourth Sunday of Advent. Together with these figures, we journey towards Christmas; towards the celebration of God coming to the world in the person of Jesus Christ. Advent is a time of preparing ourselves once more for Christmas, but also reflecting on how ready we are to receive God in our lives, and indeed, how ready the world is to bring in the Kingdom of God.
Continue reading “Follow the Star to Bethlehem”