Det här med Caroling – eller ‘Från kyrka till pub’

Om jag som präst i Sverige har ett antal luciagudstjänster under adventstid, så är det ’same, same, but different’ i England. Här är det Caroling som gäller. Det vill säga en samling där det sjungs engelska julpsalmer. Jag säger samling i ordets vidaste bemärkelse, eftersom vi samlas i allt från kyrkor och byastugor, till pubar och tågperronger.

 

Varje år sjunger några av mina bekanta kända julsånger på tågstationen. De passar på att fånga julhandlare och pendlare från London, samtidigt som de samlar in medel till välgörenhet.

 

Själv är jag under en vecka med på fem vitt skilda caroling-tillfällen. Två är i mina två kyrkor, med klassiska carols som varvas med bibel-läsningar om julens mysterium. En annan är också i kyrkan, men organiseras av flickscouternas ledare (Trefoil guild), ett glatt gäng damer som har vad de kallar ett ’lighthearted evening of carols’. Här är de flesta texterna utbytta mot dikter om julevangeliet och julfirandet, men sångerna är desamma.

 

Byns WI (Women’s Institute, och har ni sett filmen kalenderflickorna så har ni också koll på denna damförening), har också en kväll med carols, och den är än mer lättsam. Här blandas julpsalmerna med upptåg och små sketcher. Här får man en härlig inblick i engelskt julfirande, och sjungandet av ’Twelve Day’s of Christmas’ är en självklarhet. Indelade i olika grupper står man upp för att ropa ut vad man fick av sin ’True love’, om det nu är tre franska hönor, eller tolv hoppande lorder.

 

I kväll är det puben som gäller. Vi samlas på byn pub med julpsalmshäften, en violinist, och glatt sånghumör. Tillsammans med pubens gäster sjunger vi över ett glas öl. Folk låter glatt maten kallna och drickat bli ljummet och sjunger istället med i sångerna. Dessutom får vi in en hel del kollekt till skolverksamhet i mellanöstern.

 

Det enda som saknas på puben, som vi har i kyrkan och byastugan, är mulled wine och mincemeat pies, men sångerna är desamma. Här är en av mina favoriter från ‘Love Actually’…

Johannes Döparen, politik och ansvar – eller, oj, det är dags att predika

Det har varit tyst på bloggen ett långt tag. Jag har varit i USA under hela hösten, och kom hem till min engelska församling lagom till tredje advent. Första predikan på flera månader… låt oss säga att den eldades på av det senaste halvårets världshändelser, allt från Brexit och presidentval till krig och cyberattacker.

Evangelietexten är Matteus 11:2-11. Följ länken för att läsa texten på engelska.

Advent 3 2016

Finally back home I had hoped to start on a positive note, but it’s difficult, for it has been a most difficult year. I am particularly thinking of the larger picture, and world events. This is not just because I’ve been in the US, and experienced the election there, but also the current trend of mistrust and intolerance.
There’s the false news spreading like wildfire on social media, which makes people pick up on and believe the worst kinds of rumours. The blatant racism that people express and that has made inroads on the front pages of our media. This intolerance is even worse, when considering that, at the same time, we hear reports of the suffering and hardships that refugees has to go through. And still, is nothing compared to those still trapped in warzones.
If there is anything I wish for of 2017, it is a bit more loving.
Which is also why advent this year feels a lot more important.
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” John asked. “Are you the one?”
Well, Jesus, I can safely say we need you.
We need the hope. But we also desperately need the one who came.
Not a ruler who grasps for power. Not a ruler who will say anything to gain power. Not a ruler who will use any means possible to demoralise the world in warfare or cyberattacks.
But a ruler who came to serve. One, who, even as a baby, incurred love in those he met.

It’s been a difficult year, because in so many ways, we are faced with the consequences of human failing. And one of the major problems we have, as humanity, is our tendency to cast blame. We blame others so we do not have to face up to our own inability. We blame the EU. We blame our politicians. We blame our neighbour. But the fact remains, we choose our leaders. Even when our party or vote lost, we still have a responsibility for how public debates are conducted. We still have a say in what is regarded relevant issues. We still influence what kind of expressions and language we allow to be acceptable?
Even when our party or vote lost, we are still held responsible in a democracy, because our behaviour and our decisions shapes our society, and the world around us. If we want goodness to win, and love to conquer, then we cannot remain silent. We cannot let intolerance speak for our community.
I hope that 2017 will see a break in this attitude of fear and intolerance we have let loose in our society.
Which is why advent this year, feel so important.
Because to break a destructive trend, we need to identify it, and we need to ask ourselves who we wish would lead us. Who is our true king?
It is so easy to be swayed by easy answers. To listen to and be led by skilful rhetoric. This is not the first time it has happened in human history, and it will not be the last. And we all have to point out the false lies for what they are, or we’ll be like reed that let ourselves be shaken by the wind, hither and thither, or taken in by those who wears the soft robes of power, all bark, but no substance.
“Are you the one who is to come,” John asked.
“Are you the one who is to come,” is the question we have to ask ourselves this advent. Do we recognise a good leader when we see him or her? Do we recognise God’s leadership in our life? Who do we expect Jesus to be when he comes? Do I shape the character Jesus the be everything that I believe? Or do I dare listen to what he says. Dare let God challenge me?
Do we dare to let God transform us, because only then will we be able to truly answer his call and follow him.

This year has been a difficult one. But advent heralds a new era. A new beginning. And this is the time for us to decide whether we want to follow the one that is to come. It is not enough to ask, “Are you the one who is to come.” This is the time to prepare for God’s call. It is not enough to abide by the crib, and admire the Christ child. We also need to follow his example. It is not even enough to give Jesus our heart, as the carol tells it, we need to let God into our heart and give us a new one.
“Are you the one that is to come,” John asked. And Jesus replied, “Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk… and the poor have good news brought to them.”
Our service to God is not just saying the words and singing the carols. Our faith is not just saying that we’ve found Jesus, and pay homage at his crib. Being a Christian is about actively follow Christ in everything. It is by answering the call and let our actions speak as loudly as our words.

So let’s make 2017 a better year. Let’s answer God’s call and make it a year with a lot more loving and a lot less intolerance. Let’s make it, in every way, a Year of our Lord.

Amen.