Thursday, 25 December 2014

CHRISTMAS AT THE ORATORY LARNE 2014

CHRISTMAS AT THE ORATORY LARNE 2014




THEME: "THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO YOU"

Homily by Bishop Pat

One of the little human joys of Christmas is the receiving and sending of Christmas cards to and from those we love, those who love us and people that are special to us in some way.

Yesterday, December 23rd I received TWO Christmas cards that made me think.

The first Christmas card was a BLANK CARD. There was no name on it and no indication from whoever sent it.

Did someone send it to me by mistake?
Was it from some poor person with dementia?

Could it have been from some Catholic who did not want it known that they sent ME a Christmas card?

Or better still was it from some Catholic priest or bishop who is a secret admirer :-)

Or maybe it was from JESUS? Although I looked at the post mark to see if it read: "Bethlehem". But it didn't. It read Northern Ireland. I suppose Jesus can post cards from where ever he wishes :-)



The second special Christmas card I received yesterday came in a brown business envelope. It was from my good and dear friend - the Unitarian minister - Dr Martin Pulbrook.

It contained two beautiful items that touched me very deeply and felt like a personal message to me for Christmas this year.

Dr Martin Pulbrook


The first item was a beautiful new booklet published by Dr Pulbrook containing 4 new "parables" of Jesus from what we call the "apocryphal" gospels - the gospels that have not been included in the Bible by the people who constructed the Roman Catholic and Protestant bibles.

- The Parable of the Archers and the Target from the Coptic Book of Thomas.
- The Parable of the Dyer and the Dyed from the Coptic Gospel of Philip and the Arabic Infancy Gospel of Thomas.
- The Parable of the Grapevine and the Weeds from Coptic Book of Thomas.
- The Parable of the Talents as reconstituted from Eusebius's brieg description of it from the "Gospel in Hebrew characters which has come into our hands".

But the second item in Dr Pulbrook's envelope was more personal and more consoling to me. It was a letter that Dr Pulbrook had written to the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, challenging what happened to me in court last year. I had no knowledge that Dr Pulbrook was writing this letter and it was a consoling and inspirational thought for Christmas that someone out there, unknown to me, was seeking to care for me. This reminded me very powerfully of God's often unseen care for me and for all of us.  

Dr Pulbrook, in his phamplet reminds us of the closing verse of St John's Gospel:

"There are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were all written down, the world itself would not be able to contain all the books that would have to be written".

In other words if all the things that Jesus thought, did and said were written down it would take millions or billions or trillions or zillions of books to record them!

So where nowadays can all these thing begin to be recorded and written down?

We Christians gathered here tonight are gathered to celebrate the origin of the Gospels - the Birth of Christ in Bethlehem. This is the event that BEGAN the life and the Gospels of Jesus.

There is a famous Scottish whiskey called ABERLOUR.

Aberlour means: "The Mouth of the Abundant River".

The Christmas Stable was and is for Christianity the "Mouth of the Abundant River of Jesus and His Gospels".

The Gospels were not written by Jesus. They were written by his DISCIPLES.

By Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - and if Dr Pulbrok is right, and I am sure he is, by Thomas, Mary Magdala, Philip etc., etc.

But WE HERE TONIGHT are also his DISCIPLES.

And our lives - our thoughts, words and actions - can be and must be ANOTHER GOSPEL !

THE GOSPELS ACCORDING TO US!

It is summed up well in a little poem I read years ago and had forgotten:

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO YOU

There’s a sweet old story translated for me,
But writ in the long, long ago.
The Gospel according to Mark, Luke and John,
Of Christ and his mission below.

YOU are writing a gospel, a chapter each day,
By deed that you do, by words that you say;
Men read what you write, whether faithless or true,
Say: What is the Gospel according to You?

Men read and admire the Gospel of Christ,
With its love so unfailing and true;
But what do they say and what do they think,
Of the Gospel according to You?

Tis a wonderful story the Gospel of Love,
And it shines in the Christ-life Divine;
And oh, that its truth might be told again,
In the story of your life and mine.

Unselfish mirrors in every scene,
Love’s blossoms on every sod,
And back from its vision the heart comes to tell,
The wonderful goodness of God.

You are writing each day a letter to men,
Take care that the writing is true;
Tis the only gospel some men will read,
That GOSPEL ACCORDING TO YOU.

***(After reading this poem Bishop Pat invited all present to come forward and receive a book in which to begin to write their own gospel)

As each received his book Bishop Pat said:



".........you have come here tonight to celebrate the beginning of the Gospels of Jesus. As we stand here tonight at the Bethlehem Stable I invest you with this book in which you are to write the Gospel according to ....... This may be the only Gospel some men and women ever hear".

5 comments:

  1. Very thought provoking homily for Christmas.

    I will use it in the future

    Priest of D&C

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  2. The simplicity of your little church reminds me of the simplicity of the Bethlehem Stable.

    Frank. Longford.

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  3. Open Minded Parishioner26 December 2014 at 23:18

    Your little church looks lovely. Humble and welcoming.

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  4. The simplicity of your little chapel reflects the simplicity of the stable in Bethlehem. A far far cry from the pretentious pomp of Burke and Co. Feliz Navidad!

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  5. Christmas & New year good wishes and blessings to one and all. Sean & Clarice

    ReplyDelete