A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
10th November 2006
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The Christmas trees and decorations have started. Two months to go but we are under way already!
The Cathedral is Sydney's shop front to Christianity and church life. So it is time to share our plans for presenting the gospel this Christmas.
We have already planned our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations and the first leaflets are printed. Details of other activities are being worked out.
But now is the time for each of our partners in the gospel to plan their part in the Cathedral's Christmas ministry to Sydney.
Sunday the 17th is really the time that the Cathedral congregations celebrate Christmas together. It is like the difference between being a local or a tourist. The locals will celebrate the week before the tourists come. Then when the tourists come we are here to serve them.
On the 17th we will have the Christmas readings, sermons and music that require some awareness and appreciation of the importance of the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It will be a great time for the Cathedral congregations to give thanks again for the kindness of God in sending his son for our salvation.
Then the tourist season commences. This is not the time for locals to leave town. Rather it is the time to serve our society with the great news of Jesus. As partners in the gospel here at the Cathedral there are more opportunities in this week to serve people than any other week of the year.
The programme is relatively simple and I will outline it in next week's courier.
This week I write to invite you to join with the staff in presenting Christmas to Sydney. This is the invitation to come to as much of the programme as you can, so that you can serve our many visitors. They come to one meeting either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I hope our partners will come to several of our gatherings in order to help the visitors to hear the gospel message.
There will many jobs to do from leafleting in hotels and apartment blocks to welcoming, ushering and serving refreshments. But more important still is our friendliness in the pews, talking to people, sharing with them the great news of Jesus, praying for them and making sure that they enjoy being with us.
Thousands of visitors come to our Christmas gatherings. Our aim is that they hear the great news of Jesus clearly presented and wish to return to the Cathedral to hear more.
This involves more than clear preaching. It is the whole event that is important. From the advertisement about the Cathedral celebrations to the welcome they receive as they come onto our property—from the character of the meetings themselves and the farewell that we give them as they leave. All of it contributes to their encounter with the gospel of our Lord.
It is important that they are made to feel welcome. For this we need good advertising, pleasant invitations to join us, and warm friendly ushering at the Cathedral.
It is important that they are able to understand and enjoy the meeting itself. So we need great music that is accessible to all manner of people: carols that they like singing and yet teach the truth.
It is important that people leave the Cathedral with the feeling that they would like to return and sorry that other members of their family or friends missed something special.
We will be advertising our Summer Preaching Programme at Christmas in the hope that having enjoyed and profited from the Christmas experience of the cathedral, people will want to return to hear more.