Very tired indeed, but very happy. There were about 150 at 3pm crib service. There were perhaps as many as 350 at 5pm. There were about 200 at Midnight Mass... so all went well!
Below is my sermon from Midnight Mass... have a blessed and holy day...
I was flicking through the channels on tv last night trying to find some inspiration for what I wanted to say tonight, and was struck by how much post-pub tv focusses on sex - whether in chat line adverts or in programmes themselves. I am saddened to discover this because none of what is on offer is real or lasting... the chat lines will only cost large amounts of money, the beautiful men or women remain unobtainable media icons, and ultimately all of it leads to at best short term pleasure, but lacks long term, lasting emotional satisfaction.
Friends tonight I want to let you into a secret. In a world obsessed by glossy sex, surgery and gym built bodies, and pleasure at all costs - Christians make better lovers. The reason I can confidently tell you that is because I know it’s true. Christians know what to do, and how to use what they have been given better than any relationship guru on the planet. The reason I know that it’s true is because I have experienced it for myself and you can too tonight.
Tonight friends I can offer you the secret of how to be a great lover. I can offer you the chance to find life-long lasting satisfaction. I want each of you tonight to hear for yourselves how to give pleasure and delight and how to be in the most fulfilling of relationships. I need to share with you some tips and then you will have a chance to try some techniques out for yourselves - so this is a sort of hands on relationship seminar.
How to be a better lover hot tip number one. Have a baby. Babies force you to prioritize your life and to focus of what is really important. They also challenge you to work closely with your partner and others to provide for their needs. I can offer you a baby tonight, and he will do the same. He will force you to reprioritise your life and to focus on what really matters and he will challenge you to work closely with others, not just for his benefit, but for yours too!
How to be a better lover hot tip number two. Become a step father/mother/ brother/sister. Another key to becoming a better lover involves welcoming a stranger into your life and your family. This is risky stuff and will stretch you sometimes to breaking point - and will challenge all your other existing relationships in the same way, but it will be worth it. In time and lots of work, your life and the lives of others will be deeper and richer as a result.
How to be a better lover hot tip number three. Accept change. A key to becoming better lover involves change - not trying to change others - however subtly - but allowing others to change you. This is not some sort of exercise in style, but change on the inside; change in attitudes, motives, and drives.
The story that hear tonight is the epic conclusion of the greatest love story the world has ever heard - the story of God’s love for people. Jesus’ arrival in our world opens up the possibility for us not only to hear the story, but to experience the love of God, but more than even that... to be part of the story ourselves.
The baby that we celebrate being born tonight will force each one of us to re-prioritize our lives and to focus on what really matters. Tonight, in fact every night, all that really matters (even in our sex obsessed world) is love. When you boil it down all of us long for love. The birth of God’s Son offers us love; a love that accepts us no matter what, a love that shines (to use St. John’s imagery) like light in the darkness. God’s love is never ending, and offers long term satisfaction.
The baby that we celebrate being born tonight encourages each of us to become a step father/mother/brother or sister and to welcome a stranger into your lives. The baby tonight is not for cooing over and cuddling. The child born tonight should be treated with the respect he deserves as he is the Son of God, and was with God before anything came into existence, and as the Word in tonight’s reading, created everything that is. Tonight he stands with us as a grown adult too, a stranger to many, asking each of us to weigh up for ourselves who he is - was he mad in his claims, was bad in duping millions of us, or is he who he says he is. As you make your choice tonight, remember that your choice will affect the rest of your life.
The baby that we celebrate being born tonight asks us to accept change. Jesus didn’t just talk about love, he demonstrated God’s love for each of us. If you want to know what it means to be loved then you have come to the right place and the right person. God’s love calls us to change. None of us like it, but as you get to know more about love as it should be from Jesus, the more willing you become to be like him.
The birth of God’s Son amongst us tonight offers us the love of God - in person. It is love that is eternal and fulfilling. It is love that will give and offer pleasure and delight - the pleasure of knowing that we are loved by God for who we are not who we could be - and the delight of knowing that we do not have to be who or what society tell us - with or without the beautiful young thing on our arm, or the perfect body.
This baby tells us that God loves us for being us, just as he made us to be.
So as to techniques you can try - become part of God’s love story yourselves. As you come close to the crib tonight, as you open your presents in the morning, as you take Alka Seltzer on Wednesday - thank God for his love for you, ask him to move from being a stranger to becoming a friend, and allow the life of this baby as a grown man show you what true love is all about. If you want to know more - part two of this workshop begins tomorrow morning.