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Why did Jesus come?

Thousands of sermons and talks up and down the land will have attempted to answer this question in the last week. Why did Jesus come, and what are we celebrating at Christmas? Justin Welby’s sermon in Canterbury on Christmas Day focussed on the theme of freedom or liberation: In the manger is something completely different […]

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What does Christmas mean?

Despite not preaching at Christmas services this year, for some reason I have found myself thinking about the meaning of Christmas more this year than most. To stimulate your thinking this Christmas Day, I simply offer two things—one ancient, the other modern, neither mine. The ancient focuses on the meaning of Christmas—or rather the incarnation—for […]

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Three Christmas Surprises

Christmas is a time for celebration, for feasting and for relationships. But it is also a time for a mild engagement in iconoclasm, as we peel back the layers of accreted tradition and recover the origins of the Christmas gospel. In that spirit (and Spirit) I offer three Christmas surprises for you to unwrap at […]

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carols

Should Christmas carols be biblical?

I am aware that all the readers of this blog are fastidious in their strict observance of liturgical seasons. So I am confident that, during this season of Advent, you will have only allowed yourself to sing Advent carols, and will not yet have either sung or planned to sing anything about Christmas until that […]

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Should we preach at Carol services?

A couple of years ago, David Walker, the bishop of Manchester, conducted some research on the distinctive needs of occasional attenders who might come to Christmas services, but don’t attend the rest of the year. This appears to be an important group; I have noticed each year how many people are reporting increased attendances at […]

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Should we be offended by Sausage Roll Jesus?

The high street baker Greggs released their first Advent Calendar last week and, as you will no doubt be aware, caused controversy by replacing Jesus in the manger with a sausage roll. There was the little flurry of ‘angry Christians protest’ stories, because newspaper columns only look interesting if there is conflict, and the more […]

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Jesus was not born in a stable (honest!)

I am sorry to spoil your preparations for Christmas before the Christmas lights have even gone up—though perhaps it is better to do this now than the week before Christmas, when everything has been carefully prepared. But Jesus wasn’t born in a stable, and, curiously, the New Testament hardly even hints that this might have […]

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What is Matthew 24 all about?

Matthew 24 is the reading set for the fourth Sunday before Advent (i.e. in the countdown to Advent at the ordinary season comes to a close) and its parallel Mark 13 is the reading for the first Sunday of Advent. There is much confusion about both these passages (and the parallel in Luke 21), and […]

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Is the story of Epiphany credible?

The Feast of the Epiphany in the church’s liturgical calendar is based on the events of Matt 2.1–12, the visit of the ‘wise men’ from the East to the infant Jesus. There are plenty of things about the story which might make us instinctively treat it as just another part of the constellation of Christmas traditions, […]

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Is Christmas Good News?

Though it is Advent which has passed, and we are now in the Christmas season proper, because of the front-loading of most Christmas activities, it is now the season when most church leaders are breathing a sigh of relief and finally putting their feet up—assuming they didn’t on Christmas day itself. It might be a […]

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