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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 11th December 2022 Posted on Saturday 10 December 2022

Gaudete Sunday

On this Third week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, we are invited to rejoice that the Lord is near, He is coming to save us. The Gospel this Sunday has John the Baptist imprisoned and alone in the sure knowledge that a violent death awaited him.  What hope could there be for him, had his preaching and life’s witness been in vain? Even John, the great prophet, in fact Jesus declared him to be the greatest of all prophets, needed assurance that his words and example had purpose and meaning. He sent a message to Jesus and the response he received was an echo of the words of Isaiah ‘the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the good news is proclaimed to the poor’. This would not just have lifted his spirits but the fact that the promised word of God was being fulfilled in Jesus meant that the good he had done and his words and actions had helped others and prepared a way for the Lord. His life had witnessed the dawn of Christs coming and the signs were that Gods promises of the past were now being fulfilled.

For one or two of the Christmas Concerts we use sleigh bells and a wooden block to create the sound of the horses hooves to accompany some of the Christmas music. Every Advent there’s always a mad panic to find where they had been put away the previous year. So true to form the search has just begun for the concert this weekend. But there is another more baffling mystery of disappearing bells relating to the crypt Chapel. For many years we have had a bell by the internal entrance to the Chapel which is rung to signify the start of the procession for mass. Over the years two of these bells have gone missing, one was the former school bell from the old St Nicholas School. The most recent bell was chosen because it was so small and inconsequential that it could be well hidden and wouldn’t be of interest to anyone. But over this last year it seems to go missing for a number of weeks and then return for a while this has happened a number of times but at the moment it has gone missing again. It would be wonderful if we could have it back for Christmas. I suspect it is down to our Crypt Ghost who wonders around when all is quiet.

There are three Schools holding prize-giving ceremonies in the Cathedral this coming week. They are Bellerive, Belvedere and St Mary’s College Crosby. On Tuesday Evening the Wine Society will have their annual wine tasting evening – promoting sales of their wines for Christmas.

With the World Cup concluding rounds taking place over these final two weekends of Advent it has cast a shadow of doubt over the scheduling of our special evening events for the final weeks of Advent. I am now at the stage of praying that England get knocked out of the competition this weekend so that we can go ahead with next weekend’s Festival Carol Service. I don’t think that we will be the only Cathedral or church torn between supporting our national team and yet concerned about their planned Advent services. The Celebration of Christmas Concert this Saturday will go ahead as planned. In the event that England reach the final next Sunday please keep an eye on the website and newsletter in case there are any changes regarding the Festival Carol Service.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean