Preaching Christmas—without a Stable

Reading the nativity account in Luke 2 carefully highlights the way that the tradition of the stable is nowhere present. That’s all very well for scholars, people say, but how does that work in the practice of preaching? The answer is: rather well! This is what I said last time I preached on what Luke … Continue Reading

Once more: Jesus was not born in a stable

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 … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

Is there hope for unbelieving Britain?

The article that caught my eye this week in the Church Times (which I read every week) was a fascinating reflection by Philip North, the bishop of Burnley, on his visits over the summer to three different Christian ‘festivals’. He visited: the Keswick Convention, a bastion of conservative evangelical devotion, shaped by free church evangelicals … Continue Reading

Jesus was not born in a stable

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 … Continue Reading

Tradition and the contemporary at Christmas

Perhaps the greatest challenge at Christmas is how to combine the traditional with the contemporary. On the one hand, how do we honour people’s expectations of traditional forms whilst ‘proclaiming afresh in this generation’ the truths of Christmas? On the other hand, how do we make an ancient story connect with the concerns and questions … Continue Reading