Brethren and sistren, as we dip our toes into the promise and potential of this New Year, some words of caution.
Today let us reflect upon that most abhominable of sins, pride.
Harken now to the tale of one Mr H. Dumpty.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses
and all the king's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
As we reflect on this sorry story, we see the seeds of the eventual demise of Mr D. sown in the very first line:
Humpty D. sat on a wall...
Humpty, you see, chose to place himself above others; to put himself above his station. He did not take the moderate middling course by merely leaning against the wall. Nor did he follow the pathway to humilty by sitting in a lowly position at the foot of the wall.
No, my friends: he chose vainglory and pride.
He placed himself upon the wall.
He wanted to see and to be seen.
Curiousity and pride: a combination which could only result in consequences too dire to mention. Yet mention the consequences I shall, as a lesson and a warning.
Not only did he place himself above others,
when Mr D. raised himself to the heights of self-glory did he make himself useful, my friends?
Did he walk along the wall checking for defects and faults in order to alert the owner of needed repairs?
Did he stand tall on the wall as a watchman, looking for incoming foes, signs of fire, or friendly traders?
No. He did not.
And the fruits of this endeavour?
As we know, beloved ones, pride goeth before a fall.
Humpty Dumpty, in his arrogance having forsaken any safety harness, and having vainly forsworn any advice from Health and Safety officers... fell.
Yes, brothers and sisters he fell from that lofty place where pride, in its treacherous way, had taken him.
But let us be mindful:
this was no ordinary fall.
As great as the manner of his sinning was
so great was the manner of his falling.
At any given time, he could have chosen to repent of his decision.
To humble himself.
To leave the lofty perch of pride and walk once more amongst the faithful in more humble aspect - and altitude.
His was a dire and dreadful destiny.
And possibly a serendipitous dinner for the King's horses and King's men.
And so, as we begin this New Year, brethren and sistren, what can we learn from this sad and sorry tale?
That it is wise to avoid places that have walls.
That if one cannot avoid places with walls, that one ensures that the place one is in is devoid of horses and King's men.
But, if one cannot avoid places with walls which have both horses and King's men in the vicinity - to keep away from the wall.
Or, if one, due to a combination of unusual circumstances,
such as plagues, or wars, or flood of custard,
is forced to mount the wall for safety... do not merely sit.
Rather, make yourself useful.
Repair the wall should it need mending.
Grow fruit and vegetables to share with the community.
And wear a safety harness - a visible sign of one's acceptance of needing support.
Let the harness of humilty be your key to survival.
And remember: to walk the way of humilty is to avoid cracking up.
May the Lord have mercy on your souls.