A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
5th February 2007
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Christmas in the Cathedral is a time to showcase all that we have to offer at St Andrew’s. It is a wonderful time for us to share with the world all those things which we hold dear from week to week as we gather in our regular congregations.
Firstly, we are able to offer a magnificent venue for people to come together and celebrate this special time of year. There is a very special atmosphere in the Cathedral, when it is full of people from many different parts of the world, with both regulars and visitors, people who have a traditional understanding of the Christian faith and those for whom it is all brand new. We are united by the sense of the occasion, with a sense of history in the heritage building and a sense of unity with people in other church buildings around the world celebrating the same thing at the same time. Christmas has its own buzz all around Sydney. It is wonderfully focused when we come together in our own Cathedral in the heart of the city. This year was particularly exciting because there were a number of additional elements which added to the excitement: the strings of fairy lights on the pillars, the row of Christmas trees at the front and the use of the data projector for the words of the songs. All these things gave a modern edge to our gathering in an ancient building.
Secondly, we were able to demonstrate at each of our services, the warm and friendly welcome that is a feature of our gatherings Sunday by Sunday. Our thanks goes out to all those people who changed their usual plans and made it possible for them to be there for more than one service to make sure that everyone was warmly greeted and shown to a seat. The numbers of people who came to a Christmas gathering was 40 per cent up on last year’s numbers. All our welcomers were kept very busy. At our largest gathering at 8pm on Christmas Eve we had over 1000 people in the Cathedral. And all this was in spite of the storm that afternoon and the rain on the night. We praise God that so many people made the effort to come out and share with us to celebrate the birth of our Saviour.
Thirdly, the music and the singing was so appropriate and really lifted the spirits, as we sang the carols, listened to the anthems and joined in the joy of the occasion. The band and the singers, the choir and the additional musicians all gave of their best and performed for the glory of God. The music is always a feature of the Cathedral gatherings and this Christmas was no exception. Our thanks to all those who do so much to prepare and practice all the pieces and put in such an effort to be there for the many services over the two days.
Fourthly, the preaching of the gospel remains at the heart of the Cathedral ministries, in all our congregations. And Christmas was indeed a highlight. We praise God for the faithful preaching of His word. We rejoice to know that so many people have come under the sound of the gospel at Christmas. Our thanks go to all our regular members who have been praying that people would come along, inviting friends and family to come along and generally working hard with all the advertising that we undertook. May we continue to pray that people who hear the good news about the birth of our Saviour would be touched by the love of God, and by His Holy Spirit, to come back again and again to learn more and to put their faith in the Son of God who died for them and rose again.
Christmas may come but once a year, but the ministry of the gospel goes on throughout the year. May God strengthen us all to continue to serve Him and to grow in our love for one another in the year ahead.