Hot cross buns already?

Well, today is Epiphany, the feast of the three kings, where we consider the revelation of God in Christ Jesus. This marks the end of the Christmas season. But Christmas isn’t really over, in spite of what I saw in the supermarket two days ago. Yes, as I hinted in the title, hot cross buns were already on display! And this is even before the fruit mince pies have reached their use-by date! Does Christmas have a use-by date then? No, it can’t. We need to keep hold of the wonder of Christmas, the sense of awe that God would allow Godself to be born as a tiny vulnerable human, to teach and to guide us, and ultimately die for our salvation.

When I saw the hot cross buns, I was sad as I reflected upon the shallowness of our culture. We are all too happy to have the trappings of a religious festival – Christmas trees, Advent wreaths, Nativity scenes, and then hot cross buns – with or without peel – but can we as a culture cope with the raw powerful images behind the symbols? Can we cope with a baby born in poverty, destined to die for all of us, only to rise again? Can we cope with a youngish man,a good man, who loved everyone, but who was cruelly tortured and murdered, and all because God planned it so?

At Christmas we must never take God’s sacrifice lightly. We must surely try to embody Jesus in everything we do and say, and remember that God wants us to love Him. He just won’t force us to. Or even bribe us with hot cross buns, with or without peel.

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Sermon: Advent 2013

Advent sermon

Readings:  Isa 2:1-5  Matt 24:36-44

Advent was always my favourite time of year as a girl growing up in the Anglican church. For a start, we had a change from the plain green of trinity, or ordinary time. It seemed so tiresome by the end of it! Now, we had purple – my favourite colour – for altar frontals and stoles, and the change of colour seemed to signify that something new was happening. Colour-coding is a strength of the Anglican Church!

And then there was the music. I used to sing in our church choir, and from mid-October we would be practising for the Advent Carol service. The familiar carols would be greeted like old and dear friends. I still love the austere beauty of ‘O come O come Emmanuel’, and ‘This is the truth sent from above’, as well as more obscure pieces like ‘This is the record of John’. It helped that my whole family was musical, and we would sing through the carol books in preparation for Christmas. Continue reading

Advent wreaths and crowns of thorns

I was clearing the table tonight for dinner, and I moved our advent wreath. I was careful not to get spiked by the drying-out holly – it seems to get sharper every day! One of the difficulties with Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is that the holly is sappy and soft when you pick it, and tends to die quickly, as well as having no berries! As I looked again at my spiky Advent wreath, it struck me how like a crown of thorns it is!

How very appropriate, I thought. So often Christmas is all about a dear wee baby in an unconventional bed, and these days the whole reason for Jesus’ birth in the world is glossed over – he came so he could die for our sins. It’s fitting then to have a spiky wreath  and to sing some of the older carols which tell the whole story of Jesus’ ministry on earth, and to think, “What does Christmas really mean to me?”

Is it just a nice family time? A chance to eat too much, drink too much, spend too much? Or is it a time to stop and think abut the big WHY of it all.