Wednesday 27th January, 2016
CHRISTMAS 2015: With Candlemass about to be celebrated – the day 40 days after Christmas when the Christ Child was presented in the Temple and greeted by faithful Simeon as a “light to the Gentiles” – I know it is time finally to say farewell to Christmas. We bid farewell to Christmas, but also pause to recognise and acknowledge how much so many people did to enable the Cathedral to celebrate the birth of the Word made flesh. Attendances at our Christmas services were probably the highest for generations and testimony to the beauty and splendour of the Cathedral Choir’s music. The PLV party for our senior members, Crib Service, and a BBC broadcast for Christmas Eve illustrated us looking in and looking out. What many people do not see is just how much love and care go into our celebration of Christmas: beautiful flowers and a 20ft high Christmas tree; thousands of service sheets designed, printed and collated; hundreds of additional chairs brought into the Cathedral; vestments and frontals lovingly laid out; squadrons of stewards gently guiding the crowds. We all owe so much to many unseen, but not unsung disciples. Deo gratias!
SECURITY: The Cathedral’s doors are always open as a sign of God always being open to all returning home. We refuse to go with the spirit of the age and restrict opening times or such like. By remaining open it means of course that there is a risk of us being open to possible thieves and vandals. Damage was done just before Christmas. A review of our general security led to the decision to keep our Manor Place door locked. This is obviously tedious for folk coming from the east (!) but a wise precaution. The great west doors will of course be kept open.
The CATHEDRAL OFFICE: Judith Lewis, known in the office with great affection as “saint” because of her never-ending and selfless willingness to help and sort and serve, has retired. Words cannot adequately describe just how much she personally has given to the Cathedral Office, and I am immensely grateful. I am delighted to announce that a new [albeit apprentice] saint, Rosemary Kaye, will be joining the excellent Anne Backhouse in the Cathedral Office. Rosemary says: I am originally from London but have been living in Edinburgh on and off since 2010, having previously spent many years in Aberdeenshire, where I worked as a solicitor. My elder daughter Anna was a pupil at St Mary’s Music School 2010-2012; I also have a son who works for the Abernethy Trust and a younger daughter who is in her final year at the Steiner School. At the Cathedral I generally attend Morning Prayer and also enjoy the Walk and Talk Group’s outings. My other ‘job’ is writing and reviewing for The Edinburgh Reporter, an online local news site.
LENT beckons. The sombre words of Ash Wednesday (“Remember man that dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return. Repent and believe in the Gospel”) prepare us for Lent’s 40 days of journeying with the Christ as he turns towards Jerusalem. Use the Lenten liturgy or house groups to help you on that journey. This Lent you will notice a new (and indeed big) wooden oak cross at the High Altar: the combined talents of Mike Appleby and Fiona Grierson have artistically put the wood of the cross at the centre of our faith.
The dust also reminds me of 2 very special people who before Christmas unto dust returned. Hester Martineau and Margaret Beeston were each in their own beautiful ways faithful disciples of both the Child of Bethlehem and of him who hung on the wood of the cross: may they both share in the music and harmony of heaven.