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Showing posts from December, 2013

The dark side of Christmas

Matthew 2:13-23 listen to ‘The dark side of Christmas’ on Audioboo
Today we look at the dark side of Christmas.
The period of Christmas can be very painful. There is more domestic violenceand more family break ups at Christmas than at any other time of year. It is that period when people can most feel their isolation and lonliness. And of course, if there are people we have loved who are no longer with us, it can hurt like hell.
We tend to focus on the joy: the birth of the baby, the angels, the shepherds and the wise men. But that first Christmas also brought immense pain.
And today we read aboutthe slaughter of the innocents.
Alison was about to show her class of 6 year olds the film ‘The Nativity’. She thought she was on fairly safe ground. But she had to turn it off very quickly, because itbegins at the end of the story, with the soldiers preparing to ride into Bethlehem to carry out this slaughter.
Herod is not going to tolerate any possible threat to his throne. So he sends his soldiers t…

A Christ-mess: a talk for a carol service.

Christmas is about tradition. It is predictable and safe.
There is all the stuff: Christmas trees, decorations, school nativity plays and carol services – concerts – celebrations (I get quite confused these days when welcoming people, so I say ‘welcome to the school Christmas celebration concert service’), Christmas cards: yes, with the newsletters! You read about their children: big Jimmy has become an international Rugby player; little Jemima has got into Oxford (at the age of 13). And then you look at your own children … and love them. It is about wrapping paper and presents, Downton Abbey and Dr Who, Father Christmas and Christmas stockings, John Lewis adverts (‘if I see it again I will go on a bear hunt’). And it is about traditional food: turkey, mince pies and sprouts!!
Woe betides anybody who suggests that anything should change.
My sister in law has proposed that we don't have turkey on Christmas Day. By the response she has got anybody would think that she had suggested …

What is repentance?

Matthew 3:1-12

listen to ‘What is repentance?’ on Audioboo
I’d like us to look this morning at one of those religious words: repentance 

John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Messiah: his message is very simple: 'Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near'. (Matthew 3:1-12)
[As an aside, it is significant that John was in the wilderness. We look for God in the powerful places of this world, in the magnificent buildings, in the big events. But actually the place where most of us meet with God is when we put those things aside and come to him in brokenness and with nothing. Many of the early Christians, when the empire officially became Christian, chose to leave the centres of power and went into the desert. And the people of God speak with far more authority and effectiveness when we speak from the wilderness, from the edge, rather than from the centre.]

a. So what is repentance?
Repentance is not just about saying sorry for the bad stuff that we do.
It comes from the Greek …

A talk for a hospice 'Light up a Life' service

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Isaiah 25:6-9
This is a very special time of year
But for those who have lost ones that they love, it can be an extremely cruel and painful time of year. 
It once was sweet, but it has now become bitter. 
We miss them more than ever; we feel our loneliness most acutely; the world carries on as if nothing has changed, and yet everything has changed; and Christmas time which was once so full is empty. 
So it is important to have this service at this time of year. We are coming together because they do matter, to remember them, to say thank you for them.
And it is good to hold these services in Advent.
Advent is a time of waiting. During Advent we remember how the Jewish people waited for God to send a king and a ruler. The promise was first given to a man called Abraham 6000 years ago. It was the promise that one day one of his descendants would establish God's reign of justice and peace; that he would bring God and human beings together, so that we could become friends of God, so that we …

An order of service for an Advent carol service

An Advent carol service 
Leader           The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Choir             Those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shone
Choir             O nata lux de lumine – Tallis (O light, born of light)

Leader           In this service, we join with brothers and sisters around the world, and light candles to mark the signs that God has given to his people as we journey through Advent.
FIRST CANDLE: Abraham and Sarah, to whom the promise was first given.
We light our first candle to recall the men and women of faith in the Old Testament, to whom the promise would be given. 4000 years before the birth of Christ, God told Abraham and Sarah that one of their descendants would destroy sin and death, rule the world and bless all nations.  

(A person lights the First Candle)

Leader           Let us pray
All                 God of Abraham and Sarah and all the Patriarchs of old, we thank you for the promise that you have given us. Help us, like A…