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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 20th December 2020 Posted on Saturday 19 December 2020

Love, Wonder and Joy  

Debates in the news regarding the level of social contact that should be allowed over the Christmas period are still raging on but despite the confusion and restrictions this year Christmas will still happen. For even though many of the external ways in which we mark the occasion will not take place and social gatherings be reduced or family celebrations be curtailed we can still honour the birth of the Lord and keep the feast with a sense of love, wonder and joy.  When all else is stripped away that is at the heart of our celebration and that is the element that no one but ourselves can cancel.

One aspect of the build up to Advent in Cathedral House is the annual friendly creative disputes that take place regarding the position and space needed for the crib, the number of trees that should be bought and what other decorations  should there be within the Cathedral and when all this should appear during the season. ‘Whether the crib should be on or off the sanctuary’, is always the most controversial decision to be addressed and various subtle tactics are used to slowly gain a consensus of opinion and win the day. With the Dean arguing for a separate location off the sanctuary for families to visit and pray at the side of the crib and the Dean’s Assistant et al wanting to make the crib a focal point on the sanctuary for all to see – the higher and bigger the better! Faced with the reality this year of a large online congregation for Advent and Christmas services it made more sense for the crib to be clearly in view for both congregations and so I graciously rolled over and conceded without a struggle this year.

The big challenge was to keep the scale down to a manageable height and size. The limitations and demarcation lines were clearly set and I have to admit that the crib works in its new position and will be clearly seen by those who can only join us this year through the live streamed services.  Apparently the 3 Kings are going to be slowly making their way to the crib which should keep us all watching their progress – hopefully we won’t have to climb over them at any point to get to the altar.

We are only able to allocate up to 300 places for each of the Christmas Masses and Carol Services and already all the services are fully booked up apart from the 8am and 9am Masses on Christmas morning. If you are still wanting to attend Mass over the Christmas period or people you know have asked about times of Masses these are the only two that still have available spaces.

There will be just the one Mass on St Stephens’ or Boxing Day at 12 midday and 9 and 11am on Sunday morning after Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean