Learning to do differently this Christmas

By The Revd Canon Andy Bryant, Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care - 16 December 2020
Carols in the Cloister (c) Bill Smith

What do you love most about Christmas at Norwich Cathedral? Is it the rich liturgy and solemn processions or the wonderful music? Is it the glinting of the Christmas trees and the beautiful flower arrangements? Or perhaps it the singing of the Messiah or our Master of Music Ashley leading everyone in the singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas? Maybe it is the outdoor crib light up after dark or Budge the cat in the manger – how does that cat know how to be the centre of attention?

When I think of Christmas, I always think of all the different people who gather for our services, the fun of the Crib Service, standing room only for the Christmas Procession on Christmas Eve, the amazing stillness of the packed Cathedral at midnight – and then wishing everyone a happy Christmas as they leave the building.

Last year the numbers attending services was higher than ever. This Christmas there will still be the liturgies, processions and music, and the Cathedral will be decorated as in previous years, but it will be different. Even with the extra services we are putting on, only a fraction of those who usually attend will be able to do so.

We know that for thousands of people coming to a Norwich Cathedral service is an essential part of their Christmas celebrations and we are so sad that for many this will not be possible this year. It is with the greatest of reluctance that we have had to ticket all our Christmas services so that we can control the numbers attending to ensure that all we are doing remains Covid-safe.

However, if for what ever reason you are not able to join us in person this year, we hope you will join us online. We are live-streaming our services so as many people as possible can enjoy a Norwich Cathedral Christmas. And, if you cannot join us in real time, the services will remain online for viewing for the following week. Even our Sunday School are getting digitally creative and they will be sharing a very special Crib Service; the Norfolk Nativity.

To prepare us for Christmas, even if we cannot be all be together, our Cathedral Choir are offering their own musical digital Advent Calendar and the residents of The Close are lighting up their windows to offer their own special Advent Calendar.

Wherever you will be this Christmas, and whoever you will be with, we hope Norwich Cathedral will be able to be part of your celebrations, whether that is by you visiting the Cathedral or joining in with our celebrations online.

And through all these celebrations, our daily rhythm of prayer continues, and we will be holding you and our whole nation in our prayers as we continue to journey through these most challenging of times. For now we must learn to do it differently, but we all look forward to that day when we can all gather together, and join our voices with the choir of Angels welcoming the birth of the baby in the manger.

Click here for more details about Norwich Cathedral's services and events this Christmas.

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