Friday 23rd November, 2012
In ADVENT the Church changes gear, as once again we hear the Baptist’s cry of “repent” and the message of the angel to Mary and we look to the birth of the Christ Child. As at that first Advent, so now the Holy Land is in the midst of turbulent times with Isaiah’s vision and prophecy of peace seemingly as distant as ever. The journey to Bethlehem is a journey of discovery as we make room for him for whom there was indeed no room, either in the inn or in our world. Proclaimed by angels as the Prince of Peace; found by shepherds who left their flocks by night; worshipped by star-led magi from the east with gifts for the new born king; the Christ Child seeks our response on that holy night when we see God in human form.
This month’s Magazine includes all the details of our Christmas services. There are two additional special services this year.
Choral Evensong on Sunday 9 December will also celebrate the life of the painter A E Borthwick. You can see two of his paintings in the north choir aisle. “The Presence” is probably our most famous painting and visitors come from all over the world to see it. The artist painted this work in the Cathedral, where he and his wife were married, and it shows a kneeling figure with the Risen Christ behind her with his hand raised to bless or to absolve, and with the High Altar in the distance. A E Borthwick was born in 1871 and died on 7th December 1955 and there will be some appropriate music of his period for Evensong. After Choral Evensong there will be a Reception in the Resurrection Chapel. A E Borthwick’s great-nephew Henry Borthwick and his wife Elspeth will be joining us for the occasion. They have kindly lent us some previously unexhibited Borthwick family drawings and preliminary sketches which will be on display.
Christmas and Cathedrals and carols all go hand in hand. In addition to our two Services of Nine Lessons and Carols (22 and 24 December at 7.30pm), this year Christian Aid has asked us to host their ‘Big Christmas Sing’ on Sunday 16 December at 3.30pm as part of its UK-wide campaign to stamp out world poverty. We are privileged to do so. The Cathedral Choir will be joined by choirs and congregations from other churches in town: afterwards there will be mince pies in the Resurrection Chapel.
The Cathedral’s AGM was on the last Sunday in November. The reports from all our committees and groups revealed just how much activity is going on in and around the Cathedral. AGMs are always interested in finance. I was able to report on a most welcome increase in income, but price increases have more than wiped out that increase. The Cathedral remains in a healthy state, generous legacies this past year have certainly helped, but as always our largest single and most robust source of income is what individual members give to the Cathedral, week in week out. Work on the new medical centre is scheduled to begin in January and to last 12 months. Income from this in due course will be used to fund capital projects for the Cathedral.
Bethlehem and 2013 beckon. Exactly as in that stable so the Cathedral’s doors will remain open, so that all, including shepherds and wise men and women, may come and kneel at his crib.