Christmas Day In A Place Of Angels


 Accompanied by my sister Sally, and before our Christmas dinner with Carol, Judith and Skeena at Carol's new home, I celebrate Holy Communion and preach at Saint Aidan's Church, Bamburgh. This is my sermon.


I wish you a Happy Christmas, though I realize that for some of us  Christmas brings back unhappy feelings. It probably did for the homeless Mary and Joseph.  Yet rough sleepers like the shepherds, unlike Bethlehem’s hoteliers and bigwigs,  heard angels.




It is an honor to celebrate the birth on Planet Earth of the eternal Son of God in this place where angels, as in Bethlehem, have been seen, especially the ones who  accompanied  Saint Aidan on his birth day into heaven. I have a picture in my front room of light streaming from the roof  here at Bamburgh.


In Bethlehem King Herod killed off the little ones. He wanted, as we might say, global control. Today many people fear the threat of globalization. It puts the power over money and communication into the hands of a few, and divorces this power from the values of democracy and honesty, compassion and local community.


But the Christmas message is that we are not helpless victims. This has come home to me during Advent. A publisher has commissioned me to write a Book for Advent in two years time. Echoing the theme of the Narnia films where the children go through a wardrobe into a different world, each day I will take the reader on tiptoe through a divine opening. There we meet some figures from the Bible’s last Book of Revelation.




On one day I go down under a bridge among the Christmas homeless, and through a door that whisks me somehow to the top of the world’s largest tower. Higher than Trump Tower or the Twin Towers of 9/11, it has 666 floors, and is the control center for the world’s finance and communications. No one can get into it without the password. Echoing the film King Kong a beast materialises at the top of this evil tower.  It speaks with a voice like a lion’s roar that drowns out all other voices. Its body looks more like a leopard - sleek, slippery, hard to get hold of, changing its spots. Its feet are like those of a bear that tramples underfoot a myriad delicate organisms.  I feel frightened and powerless.


A woman suddenly  appears from beyond.  Her dress is so glorious I can only say that it looks like the sun. The pains and suffering of child-birth are upon her, yet the moon shines beneath her feet and the mercy in her heart seems to encompass the world. She waves her arm with grace and reach. ‘There is another world out there for those who have eyes to see’ she tells me. ‘It is a world that comes to birth whenever a person says ‘Yes’ as I said ‘Yes’. I brought to birth in this world, un-noticed by those in its high towers, the Origin and the Ultimate. We his parents had doors closed in our faces; we had to sleep rough. Yet our Son is the Peoples’ Representative at ground level. This tower will be brought low and the humble shall be raised up. In all who say Yes to God and to good the life of God and of good will be brought to birth in a myriad ways. Sometimes in little ways. Never despise the day of little things done in love. Despite the looming Beast, the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God. And the Prince of Peace shall reign for ever.’




In my Advent mystical experience I come back down to earth, but the fragrance of the woman, the fragrance of the Virgin Mary, lingers with me as I walk among the homeless and dedicate my life that the new world be born.


Today I come to Bamburgh which, to me, is a sign that the ordinary may become extra-ordinary.


Christmas Day, if we mix  faith with the Turkey and Christmas pudding, can truly last for ever.


Posted at 08:10am on 23rd December 2017
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