A birth, a baptism and a wedding

No, it’s not a clumsy title for a follow-up to Four Weddings. Rather, these are the three defining events of the Epiphany, which for want of a better translation, and continuing the films of yesteryear theme, we might render as The Shining. And in a way, I suppose, God does stick his head through the broken door of the world. “Here’s Jesus!” 

Epiphany was not an original Christian term. The stories of the ancient pagan gods were full of their epiphanies. Zeus’ are probably the most famous nowadays. He would appear as a shower of gold, or a swan, or a bull, generally to get up to some naughtiness with a pretty lady. But while his motives may not have been pure, you’ve got to admit that those – um, entrances – were pretty spectacular. 

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From Nothing, All

From Nothing, All

In the beginning was the Word.

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος.

Logos, transcendent Wisdom and Word who order all things, you have become flesh and dwelt among us.

By your voice, Logos, all things were created, and yet you were born a speechless baby, in a cave filled with speechless beasts.

But though there was neither speech nor language, your voice was always and already heard; your sound is gone out into all lands, your words into the ends of the world. The Greek philosophers recognised your wisdom, the Persian Magi your light, the Indian sages the way you made yourself Nothing. The whole world was waiting for you, unaware.

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The Two Keys to Heaven

two black skeleton keys on an old paper
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

O key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel, 
that openest and no man shutteth, 
and shuttest and no man openeth: 
come and bring the prisoner forth from the prison house, 
and him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Antiphon for 20 December

Even a merely human king, or for that matter any modern form of ruler, has the power severely to curtail his or her subjects’ liberties. this is perhaps more obvious to most people over the last couple of years then it might have been before. The power of the state can lock us into prisons, and even into our own homes. It can force children to go to school for the first 18 years of their life. It can also, of course, grant pardon and liberty. but the power it possesses is enforced by the threat of confinement and, ultimately, violence. Behold the streets of the US, Hong Kong, Australia and, rather less predictably, Holland. Such is the power of a king’s key. 

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portrait photo of woman in yellow t shirt doing the shh sign while standing in front of blue background
Photo by Sound On on Pexels.com


17歳から 22歳まで、私は英国軍の予備隊の兵隊でした。実は 、私は砲兵隊でしたけど 、 戦闘衛生兵の訓練も受けました 。 大事なことを習いました。 負傷者を搬送するとき、 大きい声で叫んでいる負傷者 を優先 しないことでした。 優先するべきは、声を出すことのできない負傷者です。 理由は、大声を出せる人は、 出せない人より 重症度が低いからです。

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Rejoice (you son of a snake)

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent – Gospel reading here

A typical baptism congregation

Now John certainly had a unique homiletic style. I’m just imagining what it would be like to start a Christening like he did. You know, the family in their Sunday best, trying their best to stop little Marmaduke or Esmerelda from crying all over the family baptismal gown, and I say my words of welcome to the congregation:

“You brood of vipers!” 

Well, I can dream. 

Not an easy man, John. Demanding. Austere. Probably not much fun at a party. And here we read, after he’s banged on about sandal straps and threshing-floors and burning chaff, that he also said “many other things” to – er – “exhort” the people. If the things he said in the Gospels are the edited highlights, I’d love to hear some of the out-takes.  

But even with what little we’ve got, it would be pretty easy to see John the Baptist as an extremist: bearded leader of a band of desert fanatics in the Middle East, living off the land (locusts and honey), and where? – in a cave, maybe? Sound familiar? 

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