Sunday, November 23, 2014

Trumpets, bells and the end of the year!

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Sunday next before Advent 2014

What instruments do angels play?

Many people would say that it is the harp. Others would look at paintings from the renaissance and say that they play all kinds of things such as violins, rebecs, lutes, guitars, shawms and sackbuts. Others would notice the herald angels playing trumpets. Biblically, the trumpet is the instrument of the angels, not the harp. Why’s that?


Remember that the angels are sent to us as messengers. They have a message of great importance and, to get that message across, they need to get our attention. Nothing grabs you attention more than a trumpet in your ear, particularly if you are a soldier asleep in bed! When a trumpet blows, things happen.

Usually, it is something military. In the Old Testament, the trumpet heralds military manoeuvres to battle, or directions to crowds to draw their attention to what’s going on, to prepare them to witness some action.

In the Revelation to St John, it is the angels blowing trumpets that signal disaster for the Earth as it prepares to be transformed into the New Earth under God’s rule. When we hear a trumpet, then it is quite clear that we should listen. But how often do we hear trumpets in our daily lives?


Admittedly, we don’t hear the trumpets that herald the presence of God. Indeed, if we encounter the voice of God, these days, most of us find that He speaks with the still, small voice directly to our souls rather than a voice which is actually audible. If we wish to hear God speak, then we need to choose to hear God speak.

Perhaps it isn’t trumpets that we need to be listening for. Perhaps we’re waiting for the wrong signal.

[PAUSE] In our Mass we have different signals for our actions. Some things, like hymns, get announced. When you hear the phrase, “the Lord be with you,” you know to respond with, “and with thy spirit”. You often hear bells in the Mass which draw your attention to what’s happening. You’ll hear them at the Sanctus, as we prepare for the Consecration, and at the Elevation of the Sacrament. All these bells say, “look! Something’s happening!”

Our seasons too, act as signals to draw our attention. Lent may prepare us for Easter, but Septuagesima Sunday reminds us that we need to prepare to prepare! Yet, does Septuagesima Sunday stand out in our minds as something important?


Today is the Sunday next before Advent. It’s a vitally important day. It’s the last Sunday in the Liturgical Year. Next Sunday is Advent Sunday which means that we begin our preparations for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Each year, we have the opportunity to receive Him anew in our lives and we need to prepare a place for Him. This Sunday is our wake-up call. This Sunday is our trumpet that says, “prepare ye the way of the Lord.” After all those Sundays after Trinity, this Sunday is like that voice crying out in the wilderness. It is easily ignored, but if we listen and heed its message we know that we have to prepare to look at our lives and say “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

This is the Sunday in which we need to stir out of our sleep. How loud does the wake-up call need to be?

No comments: