The straw that broke the camel's back… or how you can't please all of the people.

Nativity from the Sunday School, this morning. It was fabulous. They did really well.

Nativity 2008 – News report

Zoe,                                                   Reporter 1

Megan,                                              Reporter 2

Peter,                                                 Newsreader?

Martin,                                             Donkey

Caitlin,                                              Shepherd,

Lilia,                                                  Angel,

Sophie,                                             Inn Keeper

Victoria,                                          Angel

Kristy                                                 Herod/Wise man

1st Hymn -O Come All Ye Faithful.

Half way through second to last verse **BREAKING NEWS** sign flashes up on screen! Newsreader gets up, and sits at desk, shuffles papers and announces:

Newsreader: We interrupt your entrance hymn to bring you this important news. The Holy Family has gone missing! Our correspondent is in Jerusalem at the moment, [Put’s hand to ear what’s happening over there?

Reporter 1: Yes, hello, I’m here in Jerusalem with Herod. I believe he has an announcement about the Holy Family, is that true?

Herod: I want that child! All baby boys will be killed unless he is found!

Reporter 1: Harsh words from our King there.

Reporter 2: Very harsh indeed! I’m here in Bethlehem where the family was last seen with the Keeper of the Inn where they stayed.

Inn Keeper: The inn was full, but Mary was about to give birth and needed shelter so I let them stay in this stable [points to donkey. This poor Donkey was so worn out I’ve let it stay and rest and let them take mine.

Donkey: [Holds up thought bubble reading… she was so heavy! It was such a long way but I was very gentle!

Inn Keeper: I’ve never seen this stable so busy. When the baby was born the first visitors were Shepherds!

Reporter 2: It is important we talk to these shepherds.

Newsreader: We have managed to track down the shepherds and they are now with our reporter on the hills outside Bethlehem.

Reporter 1: We have been told that you visited the baby Jesus just after he was born. How did you know something so special had happened?

Shepherd: We were visited by angels; they told us the good news so we rushed to see him.

Newsreader: Angels, as you know, are difficult to locate due to their celestial status. Amazingly enough though we have just had word that our roving reporter has bumped into some, carol singing. Over to you.

Reporter 1: Unbelievably, I am here with the Angel who told Mary that she was going to have a very special baby. Could you fill us in?

Angels: I was sent by God. Mary said yes straight away, she is really special. When Jesus was born, we all got sent to spread the good news, we sent the shepherds to visit him.

Reporter 1: Do you know where the family is now?

Angels: I appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt.

Newsreader: Nobody admits to seeing the holy family since they fled Bethlehem but we can reveal that we have found the last people to visit Jesus in the stable

Reporter 2: Yes Peter, I’m here with the Magi who have word about why they are going the long way home.

Wise Man: We followed a star to the stable where Jesus was born and took gifts to worship him. Herod asked us to let him know where to find Jesus but God told us to go home another way.

Reporter 2: So you are pleased the family have escaped?

Wise Man: We wish them well. That child will grow up to save mankind.

[All gather centre stage, around newsreader

Everybody: Praise be to God!

Emma & Lou Rundell, November 2008

All Sing: The Virgin Mary had a baby boy.

The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy:

1.

The Virgin Mary had a baby boy,

The Virgin Mary had a baby boy,

The Virgin Mary had a baby boy,

And they say that his name was Jesus.

He came from the glory,

He came from the glorious kingdom.

He came from the glory,

He came from the glorious kingdom.

Oh yes, believer!

Oh yes, believer!

He came from the glory,

He came from the glorious kingdom.

2.

The angels sang when the baby born,

The angels sang when the baby born,

The angels sang when the baby born,

And proclaimed him the Saviour Jesus.

He came from the glory…

3.

The wise men saw where the baby born,

The wise men saw where the baby born,

The wise men saw where the baby born,

And they say that his name was Jesus.

He came from the glory…

Well, after that the rest of mass just went fabulously. As we had extra time, and I wanted us to finish at 11am in order to properly thank Rhoda and Pam for their hard work with a lovely gift. Church was packed. Lots of adults, many of them newish and lots of kids.

I preached much as I had done at 8am, asking why we show such devotion to Our Lady: Advent IV being dedicated to her and the annunciation. I spoke of the distinctive catholic spirituality I offered and why devotion to OLW was important, as first apostle, as model of faith, as part of the continued and unbroken tradition of English devotion (the Rose, symbol of England being the Mystic Rose of OLW). “You preach better without notes”, Emma tells me.

At the end of mass, I see the people of God out and one older chap says to me “Well, thank you, but that’s the end of my time here. I’m a Methodist really and I’ve been coming to this church for 40 years, and that sermon has made me realise it’s time to move on”.

“Oh”

“Yes, my wife was high church, which is why I came here with her, but what with the hymn books and that sermon, thank you and goodbye…”

“But I havn’t hidden this. It’s the same as it was last week and last year. I always preach on the Catholic Tradition, the Sacraments and Our Lady… This church has in the past been very much high church and I am just restoring that deep rooted tradition…”

“Thank you and goodbye”

“Oh”

There. Nothing more to be done. Nothing I can or could say to draw that back really. No way can or should I turn back what is at the heart of my priestly charism, or what I can offer here, or what I deeply believe to be the mission of this parish, just for the sake of one person. I am sad, but resigned. You really can’t please all of the people all any of the time. This gentleman has sat in this church through countless priests in 40 years, many as high if not higher than me; and has not once received the sacraments. No amount of cajoling, encouragement, exhortation has brought him from his pew or chair to receive God’s grace – he muttered something in the past about wartime experiences and so I stopped worrying about it, but clearly there was a deeper heart to all this, and one in which I am powerless to prevent.

I am sad. I am sorry. It is my fault, I suppose. However, that is a matter between him and God and the mission of this parish which continues to grow and indeed flourish will continue in the same way: Sacramental, Marian and deeply committed to the proclamation of Christ.