A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
20th November 2006
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Planning for Christmas takes the whole year. Almost everyone needs to work out where they are going to spend Christmas this year. Whose turn is it for Christmas lunch? Is there anyone new who we can invite to lunch this year? Where will we spend Boxing Day? When do we leave for Beach Mission? When can we get away for the holiday?
Of course, there is the sadness that comes from time to time that this Christmas will not be the same without that special person who is no longer part of our lives. We miss them so much more at Christmas.
Our planning for Christmas in the Cathedral is well under way. We have wonderful opportunities to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus into our world. It is our joy to sing the carols and hear the readings and reflect on the sermons. It is our privilege to welcome many visitors and offer Christian hospitality to travellers.
How can we help our contacts to join with us on a regular basis and become members of the Cathedral community? Through our warm personal and loving welcome. Pray that all our efforts will be blessed by God as we see many people come to a deeper faith and regular involvement.
The programme is relatively simple.
The Sunday before Christmas will feature a special 10.30am celebration of Christmas music, singing Christmas carols and listening to the choir perform well known Christmas items.
On the first day of the public school holidays we have two special concerts for the very young with Colin Buchanan. We will need help with ushering on that day.
Christmas Eve this year falls on a Sunday. We have decided to conduct normal Sunday meetings in the morning: the Lord's Supper at 8.30am and Morning Prayer at 10.30am.
Then start the special celebrations of Christmas from lunch time onwards.
So Sunday at 4, 6, 8, and 11pm we will hold public Christmas celebrations. The Dean Phillip, Jensen will preach at all these meetings. The choir will sing at the 8 and 11pm. The music and feel will be more contemporary at 4 and 6pm.
As 4pm is the usual time for our Asian Bible Church we will keep the language of the 4pm gathering as simple as possible. It will assume no knowledge of Christianity as we hope that for many people it will be their first Christmas. It may be an easier time to bring children.
We are catering for children with special activities at every gathering. We have provided a showbag with activities for children of all ages to be given out at every service. However at 6pm we will have a special children's talk and a special children's singalong.
The later evening gatherings will be a more traditional experience of traditional carols and modern carols led by the choir and orchestra.
On Christmas morning we will celebrate the Lord's Supper at 8am. Mark Charleston is going to be our special preacher on this occasion.
Then at 10am the Archbishop will be preaching at our main Christmas Day celebration, again with the full choir. We expect this occasion to be so well attended that we will need every seat. Therefore we will not be able to provide refreshments that morning.
The Cathedral itself will be transformed for Christmas week. We will have fairy lights on the pillars and decorated Christmas trees at the front. We will need all our regular members to play their part. With so many people coming to so many gatherings we will need people to volunteer to be ushers and welcomers. We will give out a booklet of Christmas words as people come. We are preparing a Christmas CD with a message from the Dean and a song from the choir for people as they leave. It is our hope that regulars will be able to come to two or three Christmas gatherings to give every assistance to all our guests.
We are even anticipating that people will be queuing up outside waiting to come in for the next service. We want to greet people while they wait and once they come in and chat with them while they are seated and as they leave. There are many tasks to perform behind the scenes.
How can you be involved this Christmas in the Cathedral?