“And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
When it comes to the Church of England, we feel obliged to ask, “What mind?”
The Church authorities have produced a two minutes film “Joy to The World” presented by Gogglebox vicar and Songs of Praise presenter Rev’d Kate Bottley. It has been designed to compete in the “Advertisement of the Year” competition with the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco
The film begins unpromisingly with Ms Bottley, dressed in civvies, trying to appear…. well, like unto her imagined audience. And behold, she openeth her mouth and spake unto the people these words: “My idea of Christmas is me, in my ‘jamas, sat (sic) on the sofa watching a lovely film.”
The rest of the two minutes does nothing to make amends for this philistine irrelevance and I wondered for a long time what the purpose of this film might be. Clearly, it was meant to portray the priest as unclerical and untheological as possible. I don’t think she found this difficult.
And yet the image she projected was also a cliche – the cliche of the thoroughly modern vicar or vicaress who is not at all churchy, but just like you.
But the authorities haven’t grasped the irony that this image is exactly what the Church is like today: vacuous, suburban attitudes and mores – no different in fact from the world to which St Paul said we are not to be conformed.
The film offered a short resume of what it wanted us to perceive as the modern clergyperson’s Christmas. But there was nothing about the Incarnation. No glimpse of the Christmas gospel. A lot of excited rushing about bathed in a soft focus cloud of sentimentality.
Since the Church of England omits to preach the Christmas Gospel, the least I can do is to write out the words here, John 1:1-14:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.