Category Archives: Advent

Advent 1 Sermon – I’ll do it tomorrow

Jeremiah 33.14-16
1 Thessalonians 3.9-13
Luke 21.25-36

Christmas shopping? Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow.

Christmas cards, last day for posting? Tomorrow, that’ll be fine, they will get there.

What about all those letters to friends I only ever write to at Christmas? What am I going to say? Oh, I’ll think of something tomorrow.

Yes, I’m too busy right now, I’ll do it all tomorrow.

But there’s rather a lot to do, I’m going to run out of tomorrows if I don’t get myself organised.

Run out of tomorrows … Surely not, there will always be a tomorrow … won’t there?

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

We have just heard that in the Gospel reading this morning. Is Jesus describing the day when there is no tomorrow?

The end of the world, Christmas cancelled? I’m not ready for that. I’m looking forward to Christmas. Christmas comes each year. Surely God can’t do this to us?

“Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Look Jesus, you are frightening me now. I’ve got everything planned, I’m not ready of course, but I know how I want things to be. I want carols and mince pies and mulled wine and friends and family and lots of music and presents and Christmas cards. A white Christmas this year too please, but only when everyone has safely got home to their families – we don’t want snow to disrupt all the travel plans.

Some people are completely ready of course and I’ve got no excuse really. The shops have been full of festive Christmas stuff since September. Christmas cakes have been made, puddings stirred. Come on God, don’t spoil our Christmas with all this end of the world stuff.

Wait a minute, let’s stop and think. There! The world didn’t end did it? But it was a close call for we are told that the world might end at any moment. Scientists tell us that an asteroid could hit the earth and wipe out all life – but it hasn’t … yet. The Bible is full of dire, apocalyptic predictions of the Day of Judgement and the earliest Christians believed that it would happen very soon. But two thousand years on and we might be getting a little more relaxed about the time-scale for the end of days.

Today it’s the start of Advent, a time of preparation and waiting. A Christian time when we prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. In our OT reading from Jeremiah this morning, we heard that the Jews were waiting for the coming of the Messiah too. Jeremiah reminded the people of the promise God had made them that, “I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”

As Christians, we celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December each year. We watch each Sunday as another candle is lit on our Advent wreath and we get ready, keeping on watching and waiting.

It is all about getting our priorities right. Not getting too bogged down in things which gnaw away at our time and which, ultimately are of no use whatsoever. And along with all the festivities and fun and family holiday stuff, Santa Claus, the mince pies, the Christmas trees and decorations, let’s find some time to spend with the one whose birth started the whole celebration.

So, what are we waiting for? Summer’s over for another year and it’s Advent: time to get ready to meet God. We know God’s coming, but if we keep putting things off till tomorrow, we may just run out of tomorrows and we’ll never be ready.

On your marks … get set …


Lesley Shatwell 29/11/15

Can you make room for a nativity set?

Knitting needles have been hard at work across Badshot Lea and Hale as the parish’s first ever ‘Knitivity’ set takes shape ready for Advent.

Mary and Joseph, kings, shepherds and a multitude of sheep are being created for the knitted Nativity set which will tour homes, offices, schools and shops in the run up to Christmas.

The creative project is being coordinated by a member of St George’s Church, Badshot Lea, Kris Lawrence, who is appealing for both knitters and hosts to step forward and make the Knitivity a truly community-based project.

She explained: “Knitivity is all about the journey as we move through Advent towards the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

“Our knitted Mary, Joseph, donkey and other characters will begin their journey from St George’s Church on Advent Sunday – 29th November at 10am. From there they will travel around the parish, staying in a different home each night during Advent, and at each home one of the sheep will be left.

“We hope that during the day they will turn up in some of the more public places within the parish, such as shops, schools and offices. We will chart their journey with pictures on our Facebook page so that everyone can be part of the journey and prepare for Christmas with us.

“Finally, all the sheep will be re-united at the Christmas Day services in church – 9.30am at St John’s, 10am at St George’s and 11am at St Mark’s.

“We would love to hear from any hosts or keen knitters. We will be knitting throughout October and November and everyone is welcome to join in.”

The Revd Lesley Crawley, a priest in the parish, explained: “I hope we will have great fun with Knitivity this Advent. It’s a wonderful way of binding us together as a community as we reflect on the real meaning of Christmas and share hospitality with one another in our homes.”

If you would like to be involved, either by knitting or hosting the Knitivity set then contact Kris on 01252 327832/07876 204665

What is a Christingle?

Christingle services have been taking place all over the country for the past 47 years. In that time, Christingle has grown to become an incredibly popular event, embraced by people from all areas of society. The services include songs and prayers, as well as a collection to help support The Children’s Society, so that they can keep working with some of the country’s most disadvantaged children.

The highlight of the Christingle service involves the lighting of the Christingle candles. You can see what a Christingle looks like above. It is a great way to teach children the story of the gospel and its significance to Christians.

At St Mark’s the Christingle Service this year will be on 29th Nov at 11am and at St George’s it will be celebrated on 31st January during the Family Praise Service at 11:30am.

What is Knitivity?

This year in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale we have decided to take our nativity on a tour around the parish and this year we have a ‘knitivity’ This consists of a knitted Nativity which is being knitted by anyone and everyone during October and November.

Knitivity is all about preparing during Advent for the celebration of birth of Christ. It is a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.Our knitted Mary, Joseph, donkey and other characters will begin their journey from one of the three churches on Advent Sunday – 29th November (we’ll let you know which church nearer the time!) and they will travel around the parish, staying in a different home each night during Advent, and at each home one of the sheep will be left. We hope that during the day they will turn up in some of the more public places within the parish, such as shops, schools and offices. We will chart their journey with pictures on our Facebook Page. Finally, all the sheep will be re-united at the Christmas Day services in church – 9:30am at St John’s, 10:00am at St George’s and 11:00am at St Mark’s.

The idea of ‘Knitivity’ is not only to remind us of the real meaning of Christmas within the parish and the community, but it is also an opportunity to share hospitality with one another in our homes, whilst remembering the joy of the incarnation of Christ. When the nativity set is passed from one to the other there is a prayer of giving the set and a prayer of receiving it.

If you would like to be involved, please contact Kris on 01252 327832/07876 204665

He Went Away Sad

Mark 10 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

“Everywhere people have actually built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without certain things – money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friendship, spirituality, God – they cannot be happy.”  You then develop an attachment to the thing and become happy when you have it and sad if you are in danger of losing it.

If you possess something but you can’t give it away, then you don’t possess it… it possesses you. – Frank Sinatra

This set me pondering about love, and marriage.  There is a paradox here, which I recognise in my own marriage – without Lesley I would be less happy, but clinging tight and not letting her have a free choice reduces my happiness too.  Instead of being about controlling the other to ensure that they are there all the time, you have to accept their freedom.  However, with it comes the gift of their presence – which increases our joy.

The Extra Mile

Matthew 5.40-1 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.

We are programmed by society, our parents, our culture, our past experiences, our religion to want certain things. If we don’t get them we are unhappy… our programming tells us to be anxious, tense or worried. We expend energy coping with these emotions and even more energy rearranging the world so that the negative emotions aren’t triggered. Our existence is pathetic – we are at the mercy of so much we can’t control.

The way out is to be in the situation that causes us pain or difficulty and to observe ourselves, recognising that what is actually causing the pain is not the situation but the programming. Stay in the situation until there is a choice – we choose to act in a certain way, we don’t have to react

We see how powerful it is then to have the freedom to give to the person who demands our coat our cloak also, or to walk the extra mile. Only when we have freed ourselves from our inner programming can we come to a place of peace and love that permits us to do such a thing.

It reminds me of that Buddhist story of the Zen master:

During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control. In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived – everyone except the Zen master.

Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was. When he wasn’t treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger.
“You fool,” he shouted as he reached for his sword, “don’t you realize you are standing before a man who could run you through without blinking an eye!”

But despite the threat, the master seemed unmoved.
“And do you realize,” the master replied calmly, “that you are standing before a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?”

(from here).



Luke 14:26 ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

Happiness cannot be found by seeking it – unhappiness is caused by our false beliefs about what makes us happy, and these are so ingrained by society that we are not even aware that we have them – like a dreamer in a dream.  Once we realise that attempting to please others will never bring us happiness we can start to understand this.

Not trying to please others  is difficult.  I write this as someone who got a career because that is what you are expected to do after university.  It was all very pleasant, passed the time nicely, paid the mortgage, but wasn’t what I was called to do.  As I changed my life, discovered my vocation, left the career, stopped worrying about what the world might think (at least sometimes) I found a deeper happiness.  But – it was a scary process!

I was asked over 30 years ago if I might have a vocation to the priesthood, but at that time I was too scared to give up the nascent career that I had, too worried about what “they” might say.  Two questions which Lesley helpfully (really) asks me from time to time are:

  • Who are they – name them?
  • What is the worst that could happen?

They do help 🙂

Advent Reading

The Way to LoveAlan and I are going to read meditations during Advent from the book “The Way to Love” by Anthony de Mello during Advent and blog about them here. If anyone else would like to do the same then you will be able to add your thoughts to ours in the comments.

This is what it says on the back of the book:

The Way To Love contains the final flowering of Anthony de Mello’s thought, and in it he grapples with the ultimate question of love. In thirty-one meditations, he implores his readers with his usual pithiness to break through illusion, the great obstacle to love. “Love springs from awareness,” de Mello insists, saying that it is only when we see others as they are that we can begin to really love. But not only must we seek to see others with clarity, we must examine ourselves without misconception. The task, however, is not easy. “The most painful act,” de Mello says, “is the act of seeing. But in that act of seeing that love is born.” Anthony De Mello was the director of the Sadhana Institute of Pastoral Counseling in Poona, India, and authored several books. The Way To Love is his last.