A Christmas sermon sadly lacking in faith and hope | Verity Lush

My family attend the carol service every year at Chichester Cathedral. The choir are simply wonderful, the atmosphere is charged with the spirit of coming together, and it heralds in the festive season.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 2:08 pm
Updated Friday, 27th December 2019, 6:53 pm
Verity Lush found the Christmas sermon at Chichester Cathedral uninspiring.
Verity Lush found the Christmas sermon at Chichester Cathedral uninspiring.

I am an agnostic. I have always rather wished I were atheist – and believed in the existence of a god or gods.

It must offer a purpose in life and an entirely different world perspective. However, to quote Kierkegaard, I cannot make that ‘leap of faith’.

I am in awe of the world in which we live and the nature of it, and the astounding fact that we all just happen to be.

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But to misquote another great thinker, isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful, without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it? (Douglas Adams.)

I have a degree in religion and I am a qualified RS teacher, so it’s something that I have spent much time studying.

I don’t see it as hypocritical to go to a church service if I do not believe in God. I am open to that belief, and I have spoken to several members of the clergy who are pleased that their church is full as opposed to half-empty.

The Chichester service this year was as haunting as always, but the sermon was rather lacking. Entirely irrelevant for the age in which we live, and utterly uninspiring for any youngsters in the audience.

And, let’s face it, give it another 20 years and the church will be counting on those alienated youngsters to fill their pews.

This was such a marked difference to last year, which appealed to humanity and gave pause for reflection on the times in which we live and what we can do for others.

This year, the sermon was merely a defence of Christianity and even mentioned the word ‘proof’ in relation to the existence of God.

To be blunt, Michael McIntyre’s Big Show had more meaning and humanity in its portrayal of a young man whose three brothers were raising awareness of his severe epilepsy, than one word that was spoken in the cathedral this year.

Whether partying or in front of the TV – happy new year!

One is supposed to go out and enjoy enforced jollity on New Year’s Eve, but my husband and I shall most likely be in our pyjamas, waffling nostalgic drivel for the days when Clive James was on the telly.

This flies in the face of tradition of course. We are bred on the impression that on the 31st, we should be well up for it, knee deep in booze and frolicking on the freezing streets, lighting paper lanterns and giving not a thought to the questionable wisdom of sending air-born incendiary devices off into the night sky.

Wherever you may be as the last sun goes down on 2019, I wish a happy new year to you and yours. May your days be merry and bright, healthy and happy and light.

My mum and the hauntingly embarrassing carol singing

I have been recalling my personal ghosts of Christmas Past. A favourite is the memory of my school carol service, held at St Mary’s Church.

I still recall the sense that something special was about to happen as the church darkened and the lights were dimmed, ready for the haunting echo of the initial solo verse of Once In Royal David’s City.

The silence was tender with the wait for that one sweet voice to ring out high and true into the pitch black. Silent except for my mother, who mistakenly sang along, loudly, and became progressively louder in order to rouse the ‘miserable ones who weren’t singing’ around her.

Mortifying.