A Christmas message from the Dean

24 December 2020
"At the end of this challenging year, on behalf of everyone at the Cathedral I wish you a truly blessed Christmas and a sense of hope for the year ahead." Read more of the Dean of Norwich's message for Christmas below.
Christmas at Norwich Cathedral (c) Bill Smith

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Many of you will be familiar with that opening line from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and, for the majority of people, 2020 has felt like the worst of times.

How many messages and cards received this Christmas have begun with “What a strange and difficult year this has been” or something similar?

As we have lived through nine months of pandemic, people have experienced all manner of loss. Many through the death of a loved one. In the Cathedral we are very aware of the great loss in Norfolk as we look at over more than 640 tiny crosses laid out in front of the Altar, each representing a life lost to Covid-19. For even more people there has been loss of work and income, loss of business, loss of schooling, loss of celebrating a special event, loss of time with family and friends, loss of confidence and loss of the sense of mental well-being.

Yet what this year has brought hasn’t by any means all been bad. We have all witnessed the dedication and self-giving of NHS staff and other care-workers, the wonderful community spirit demonstrated in so many places, the resourcefulness of people as they’ve adapted their lives to cope with the changes thrust upon them, the commitment and co-operation of scientists across the world to developing a vaccine, and the generosity of individuals and charities in reaching out to those in need.

Alongside these things, in the early part of the year we were able to take time to appreciate the peace and beauty of the world around us, with blue skies, bird song and the fresh growth of spring. So, in some senses we have experienced the best of times too.

In the days ahead, as we celebrate Christmas and recall how God gave himself to the world in the tiny vulnerable baby in the manger, we are again reminded of the best of times and the worst of times.

Jesus, as he grew up was on the receiving end of the very worst of human behaviour as he was executed in the cruellest of ways. Yet, in Jesus we see displayed the very best in human nature, giving us a vision of how a human life could and should be lived.

As we wish each other a happy Christmas let us put into action his way of living; a way of living which will bring true happiness to others ~ loving those around us, living in peace with each other, sharing what we have with others, and when things go wrong, being ready to forgive.

So, at the end of this challenging year, on behalf of everyone at the Cathedral I wish you a truly blessed Christmas and a sense of hope for the year ahead.

The Dean of Norwich
The Very Revd Jane Hedges

For more information about Norwich Cathedral's Christmas events and services click here.

Picture and video: Bill Smith