The Very Rev'd Dr John Hall is the Dean of Westminster. His Christmas Eve sermon was a healthy portion of erudite soteriology. He preached about the evocative comfort and peace of St Luke's account; the inspiration of the Christmas story to artists and architects over the centuries; the spiritual significance of art; the historical significance of Mary; the divinity of the Christ-child; the prophecies of His coming; the salvation he brings through Resurrection; and His transformational, unfailing love.
The Times reported nothing of this – not one word of appreciation or praise.
Dr Hall's Christmas Day sermon – which was broadcast to the nation – was a nugget of preaching perfection. He spoke about God's apparent absence from the world; of the psalmist's despair in the darkness; of the false gods which offer no answers; of the prospering of the wicked; of theodicy – the justification of God; of teleology – the reason and purpose of order in the universe; of kerygma – the proclamation of good news; of the case for believing in God in the face of the existence of evil; and of Christ, born as a baby in Bethlehem, and yet the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Jesus was not God in disguise, but God as a human being – homooúsios – one substance with the Father, and yet destined to spend 30 years of his life banging nails into wood, then a few years preaching, and then dying on a cross for the sins of the world. And, again, Dr Hall illustrated this kenosis with art – God emptied and humbled himself to share his love: he suffered and died to redeem the world:
Read also: The Mission of Christmas by Peter Ould