Saturday, 31 December 2016

Address for Carol Service 20 Dec 2016

Address for Carol Service 2016

I was preaching from notes, rather than a full text, so this is an attempt to reconstruct what I actually said! We always include a brief address to reflect on Christmas within our Carols by Candlelight.

I received some exciting news today. A friend of mine, Neil, has just featured in the most recent episode of Midsomer Murders! That means I know someone famous.

Perhaps there are people here tonight who know someone famous, or have met a famous person. There may even be someone here who has met the Queen, or at least seen her at close range. I did once – she was much smaller than I expected,  in a blue outfit, I seem to remember. The occasion was the distribution of the royal Maundy money at Coventry Cathedral. Elsie, one of my church members, received money, and very proudly told the Queen that she shared her mum's birthday. Elsie never forgot that day - well you wouldn't, would you?

That made me think of the man who had a little hotel up on the moors - more of a pub with some guest rooms, I think. One snowy night, a man appeared at the door who was very smartly dressed, who requested that a room be made available for a special passenger in his car. The snow meant that the Queen would be staying, and he had a few minutes. What must he have thought?

What would you do first if the Queen called on you? I can imagine all kinds of questions rushing across our minds. Have we hoovered the carpet? Is the loo smelly? Did we remember to buy some... It would bring out all of our anxieties and insecurities.

Christmas is about a King calling long ago. He first drops in to a guest room when things were busy. There was no security man. No driver or entourage - and probably no snow. There was no fanfare before he was born. And yet this isn’t just any earthly ruler – this is the king of kings. The Christmas stories tell us that only a few people got the message at the start – shepherds straight away, along with the innkeeper and perhaps a few from the town. Later the wise men arrive - the powerful paying homage. Herod wanted to kill the one he saw as a rival, such that they had to run away. But largely the king who dropped in was unnoticed by the world. It was only later through his life, death and resurrection that most of learned who he really was.

But Christmas is also about a King calling today. He’s not bothered if we haven’t hoovered or washed up. He’s not looking for a room with an en suite. He won’t be fussy about the brand of tea bags we have in our caddy. He comes to take away our fears, to reassure us in our insecurities. His love casts out all fear. The only question he asks us today is the same question that his parents asked just over 2000 years ago. Do we have room? Do we have time? Do we have the interest? Are we prepared to make some space in our lives for him, especially if that might mean rearranging some of our spiritual and emotional furniture. Only we can answer that question – no one else can do it for us. But each year the word who became flesh places that question before us afresh.

Do we have room? Do we have time? Do we have the interest?

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