Sunday, 1 January 2012

Drayton Parslow's New Year Sermon

My fellow Funambulist Baptists, it is good to greet you on this first day of the year 2012.

And in keeping with the bright hope of this morning's theme, we turn to my text - "The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him."

For what more do I need to say than that every one one of us stands at a fork in the path. And there are two paths - one leading to perdition, and the other - if the Merciful One is truly merciful, and treats us with  leniency instead of with the whips and scorpions that we deserve - to salvation. Maybe this year will be the year we see him approaching on the clouds - Lo! Every tongue will confess him Lord and every knee will bow! Maybe this year!

And I know what ye are thinking, my brethren - you remember that the last year was full of apocalypses, none of which ever happened. That the Reverend brother whom we called a sage reader of the times in May - and with slightly more suspicion in October - turned out to be less of a prophet and reckoner of God's times and seasons than we thought. And I say to you - yes, the last few apocalypses have turned out to be false dawns. But there's always the next one. To misquote a line Eileen occasionally uses, I should know all about apocalypses - I've forecast a few of them myself.

But if this year is the Year of Judgement, then in what state shall we be found when the Weigher of our Souls puts us into the Eternal Soul Weigh Station? Let me give you an illustration. The benighted Beaker Folk across the grounds spent three days clearing their garage. And when they had finished, their garage was completely clear and Lo, Eileen was pleased when her eyes beholdeth the empty garage. But is it not like a soul that has an unclean spirit cast out? For no sooner had she pronounced the garage good in her eyes, than it was filled once again with rubbish and the cast-off debris of their sybaritic lifestyles. Indeed, they sleep the sleep of the unrighteous now, having consumed too much of the juice of the apple, grape, grain and whatever you make Pernod out of last night. And while we who are righteous are awake - for those who sleep, sleep at night - the Beaker People are asleep even in the daylight.

And I lost many hours of the sleep of the righteous last night thanks to their loud music, and the enormous firework they let off at midnight. Indeed, the burning iron filings that struck my window in the night actually melted aspects of the glass into what looked - when I woke, sleep-deprived, at 5am this morning - from a certain angle to be a representation of Mary. And in my confused state, to Marjory's alarm, I started to recite the Hail Mary, until she threw a cup of iced water over me and brought me to my senses.

But I know - for I remember this day last year - that when the Beaker Folk emerge, blinking and retching, as if to judgement, into the daylight later - I will hear the clinking of empties as they dump all the bottles into boxes in the garage. And those bottles will there remain until the Day of Judgement, or the recycling collection - whichever is sooner.

Friends, you can walk round to my garage and you will see that it is perfectly clear. No boxes of empty Famous Grouse, no bundles of wrapping paper and old newspaper, no old microwaves - for I keep my garage empty. You can park a car in my garage at any time you need. For indeed, our car will not fit in the garage. But when the Great Day comes, the Recording Angel will behold, in at least one house in Husborne Crawley, an empty garage.

Finally, this is the time of the year that I often like to quote the old poem - I said to the man who stood on the threshold of the year, and he said "Run! Run for your life! Hide amidst the rocks and repent and maybe you will be overlooked." These are wise words, words that we can reflect on. For when the heavens open and the earth is split asunder, when the record of rights and wrongs is reckoned off - we, alone in the sinful world, will be able to say "I have a clean and tidy garage."

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