A sermon preached
Reading Luke 2:1-20
Sorry to interrupt the service,
but I have a police message here
for those of you who came here today by car.
The police have asked me to draw your attention to
the Holy Days and Fasting Act of 1551 (never repealed)
which clearly states that everyone
must attend Church on foot on Christmas Day –
so if you arrived her by horse or car
and are arrested on the way home, you have been warned.
A warning also to anyone here
who has received a computer game or Scrabble for Christmas –
you should note that Henry VIII’s Unlawful Games Act of 1541 –
also still on the statute book -
forbids all games except archery and leaping on Christmas Day
And I hardly need remind you of Elizabeth I’s edict of 1588
that you must only eat Goose on Christmas Day –
and indeed Cromwell’s prohibition of mince pies
and indeed any celebrations whatsoever….
balance I suspect that the Constabulary may turn a blind eye
to one or two of these infringements – and I hope they will –
the birth of Christ is good news.
· When there is a birthday, you celebrate –
· When your team wins the big game, you celebrate –
· When the war ends and peace breaks out, you celebrate.
Today we celebrate Christ’s birthday, Christ’s victory, Christ’s peace and joy!!
out of a misguided sense of political correctness
tell us to leave Christ out of the civic celebration of Christmas are in real danger –
in more than one sense –
of throwing out the baby and bottling the bathwater.
might add that our Islamic sisters and Brothers –
far from objecting to the celebration of Jesus’ birth,
revere him as a prophet, and share with us
the desire to find spiritual meaning in life.
On more than one occasion I have received greeting cards
at Christmas from the Mosque wishing me God’s blessing
on the birthday of the Prophet Isa, as Jesus is known in Islam).
God is not a Christmas optional extra in Christmas
I hope the people on Ascension Island in the South
have had a good Christmas this year.
Apparently last year the British Post office sent
all the Ascension Is Christmas mail to Asuncion, the Capital of Paraguay.
All, that is except mail addressed to Georgetown,
the main settlement of Ascension Island –
that was all sent to Georgetown in Guyana.
Apparently the number of flights from Paraguay and Guyana
to Ascension is not great,
and hence Christmas last year was somewhat delayed.
actually delayed of course –
Great though it is to celebrate and party and swap presents,
Christmas doesn’t depend on that –
and if Christmas this year is (as I know it is for some of you)
lacking some of the usual froth and bubble –
well the heart of Christmas – the promise of God’s love –
is still there, it is never misdirected, never lost –
and God is always there on Christmas Day
knocking on the door of your heart with the gift of his love.
Apparently this afternoon the Queen is going to talk about
the horrors of the past 12 months from the Tsunami onwards,
and then say “This last year has reminded us that we live in a world
which is not easy or safe – but it is the only place we have”
To which wise words I might add those of
the Bishop of Liverpool in his Christmas message:
“God knows we need
saving – from ourselves,
from what we are doing to our planet
and what we are doing to each other”.
ou are in the sort of dark and dangerous world we are in,
the birth of a saviour is worth celebrating!!
hear about Lofty the Turkey?
This is a true story -
Apparently this turkey was on his way to an abattoir
with other birds in the back of a lorry last week
when he managed to jump off.
He ended up at an animal sanctuary in Swanley, Kent.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA),
which is against factory-farmed turkeys,
have invited Lofty to a vegan Christmas Dinner as guest of honour.
Retreat Animal Rescue spokeswoman Anita Sing said:
"Christmas should be a time of compassion for animals,
may be a bit late in the day for most of us
to decide what to do about the turkey this year –
I suspect most of us have by now, as Q Elizabeth might have said,
cooked our goose as far as the ethics of turkeys are concerned.
But it’s never too late to think about our human sisters & brothers -
I hope and pray that this Christmas is a time when we remember
· the needy and the outcast,
· those facing pain and death,
· those imprisoned and lonely -
For it was for such as these that our Lord came –
and if this day we can share our Christmas joy with them,
then shall our celebrations will be rich indeed!!!