The informal carols at the Cathedral today were just right. I had a couple of wobbles but didn’t need to run out halfway. I know that lots of people find carols emotional, and last week I got caught out by choirs in the shopping centre … Choirs and brass bands always get me. Choirs of children and brass bands probably worst of all.
Meanwhile back at the Cathedral, like I said, things went ok. I think there were several reasons for this…
The service was very informal. It was intended as a drop in for shoppers, therefore there was no choir. I realised very quickly that I can’t sing. So did a lady behind us who moved away from us after the first carol! Anyway, no choir and no children with candles. Nothing for me to get too emotional about.
The service lasted just over an hour and there was a tag team of three different clergy. They spoke about what Christmas meant to them, but they also spoke throughout on the theme of hope. They were mostly light-hearted and amusing, but they all acknowledged how Christmas can be difficult for some, and indeed there were other people in the congregation having their own wobbles during these moments.
One of the clergy reminded us that Mary didn’t have an easy life. She was an unmarried mother, who had to deliver her child in difficult circumstances, miles from home. Later she was to become a bereaved mother and weep at the cross. Her love for God helped her to cope.
He also spoke about the very special Nativity we have in the Cathedral. It is made of Sheffield steel.
It’s an unusual scene because Joseph is holding baby Jesus, not Mary. Also, Joseph is wearing a Steelworker’s apron.
At the end of the service we spent a while looking round the rest of the Cathedral. It is a beautiful place, with part of it being rebuilt following damage in the Sheffield Blitz.
Looking towards the main altar
Looking back towards the main entrance and the Lantern
We also upheld the tradition of lighting candles for departed souls. It’s a sad fact that the older we get, the more candles we have to light. It’s heartbreaking that some of these candles are for children and young adults who died of cancer.
So I took my fears to the Cathedral today, like many who have been there before me, and I did find some peace in the moment. I left with the hope of starting new traditions, and trying to find the courage to let go of the hurt and pain.