Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas spirit

Just sitting in Trinity Library and got an email through - thought it was interesting statistics

As it's nearly Christmas, we've found some amazing Christmas stats to put you in the Christmas spirit!

The UK sends nearly 1 billion Christmas cards each year**
4 million Brussel Sprouts are usually purchased the week before Christmas.**
This year 1.3 million fresh Christmas Trees will be sold, 9% less then last year.*
Each person will spend on average £435 on Christmas gifts, 12% more then last year.*
Sales of Mince Pies are expected to reach £33 million this year, while an estimated £21 million of Christmas puddings will be sold!**
An estimated £42 million worth of Turkeys will be sold this Christmas, 7% more than last year. Organic Turkeys have the highest estimated sales growth at 46%.*
Each household will spend approximately £169 on Christmas food and drink, up 4% on 2006, pushing the actual cost of Christmas lunch to almost £16 per head, up from £14 in 2006.*
Each person takes on average 15 hours to complete his/her Christmas shopping.**
Each person spends on average £33 on last minute panic purchases.**
41% more alcohol is drunk during the holidays than the monthly UK average.**
Christmas 2005 the most popular Christmas cards featured Brussel Sprouts and Cows wearing antlers.

Stats from BRC research, the BRC - KPMG Retails sales monitor for the UK and Nielsen's Point of sales market track data.** Reported in the Independent 12th December 2006

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent Sermon Bray

Sermon Preached on Sunday 2nd December 2007 in Christchurch Bray


Before I begin, could I take this opportunity to thank Baden & Avril, Alan and Liz and their families as well those who I have got to know on a weekly basis here in Bray – especially David and Joe at the back and Derek in the choir– you guys are great craic. It has been good to find my feet in my first parish placement outside Banbridge, so thank you. I am here to the end of January.

At the moment in college there are lots of essays being done - lots of work being completed before the end of the term - as I was sitting in my room on Wednesday evening one of my friends came into my room and said - as he was fire warden, he had received a message from one of the staff members that there was going to be a fire drill on thurs morning at 7.45 - he was just warning people so that they wouldn't get caught in the shower when it happened - I thanked him immensely.

So... the alarm clock beside my bed got moved back so that I would be up and ready to go when the fire alarm went off ... I was up, showered and ready by 7.30 - I got my scarf, coat and bag ready - so much so I went up to the kitchen, boiled the kettle and made myself a cup of tea! All ready to go. The alarm went off and it was clear to see who had been told and who hadn't - those who were ready and those who weren't.

Today we are talking about preparation

Today is one of those days that the church begins a preparation period – Advent {{- it is also the new year of the church – so happy new year}}

Looking around the church – the liturgical colours have changed from the pastoral colour of green to the Penitence colour of Purple. It begins a time when we focus on the incarnation of Christ. The coming of Jesus into the world.

It is a time when we remind ourselves of the huge – mega event the incarnation was – how it changed the course of human history. It is a time when we focus on what does it mean to believe in Jesus and prepare for the baby in a manger 2,000 or so years ago.

In 23 days time Christmas will be here and Christmas presents will have been opened and the turkey will be soon coming out of the oven, the preparations will have been made, cards sent, Presents given, office parties celebrated, carol services attended.

{{of all the passages in the Bible to preach for a first sermon in a parish as a student this certainly wouldn’t be top of my list! – judgement and end of the world but ...}}

Our Gospel today exorts us to make preparations, to be ready for the coming of Jesus, but hold on ...

... he came at Christmas 2,000 years ago as a baby

... he lived, he taught, he died, he rose full stop

Well, that’s not quite what the Bible says – its more of a comma than a full stop. Our gospel this morning

... is from the mouth of Jesus about the coming of the son of man.

The reading this morning is the last of the 5 main sections in Matthew’s Gospel – it is known as the eschatological – the end times.

The second coming of Jesus.

[ Looking through the passage it is hard to see good news – gospel.

... especially when it speaks of Noah and the flood

It is speaking of the end of the world as we know it – It is speaking of two people in a field – one taken, one left

This to us is not nice, it’s not neat – it cuts us to the core –this is one of the passages in the bible which many would prefer not to visit.

“some will be taken, some will be left” – that is painful –its doesn’t sound like good news but lets look at it again - He is not willing for anyone to perish [2 Pet. 3:19]. from the relationship with Jesus is what will get us through.

I read this passage as a signpost – just as a sign on a power station may say “danger keep out – risk of death” This rather says – Danger outside come on in – Certainty of eternal life

This passage speaks of preparation

... it urges preparation

It does not tell us when he is coming back.

Many cults and false prophets have tried to predict when the world will end – that is foolishness.

But what we can do is prepare for his coming.


Get in a right relationship with him – he invites us to simply come . Once we are there we can deepen that relationship with him – through prayer, through Bible study – getting to know him better.

We can share him with others – talking about him- Labouring for him. We are all called to do something for the kingdom. Do you know what your god given gifts are?

As we make our lists and check them twice – what priority are we going to make God – Immanuel “God with us” this advent time.

Are we, am I going to be happy to leave Jesus as the cute little baby in a manger this Christmas?

Or are we going to heed the signs? Are we going to come and ask Immanuel – god with us to be with you?

How are you going to prepare for the coming of Christ this advent time ?

Let us pray

Lord Jesus, Immanuel God with us, help us to prepare our hearts and minds and lives for you this season of advent