The last Vespers of 2007 has been sung; the doors are now closed ready to be opened (perhaps slightly later than usual) tomorrow morning, the first day of a new year. There will be much to do in 2008 - the usual calendar of liturgy, events, social activities and work; a new co-adjutor bishop will be welcomed to the Diocese, and no doubt the Cathedral will have a role to play; there will be a great deal of work in preparation for the 150th anniversary in 2009, and the task of preaching the Gospel must continue at the heart of it all. Large banners of angels hang on the Sanctuary during the Christmas season, reminding us of our duty to speak God's word.
It seems appropriate to leave the last word of 2007 to a 9-year old pupil at the Cathedral Catholic Primary School. She wrote a letter explaining why Christmas is important. Canon Stephen and Fr Andrew both read the letter at Christmas, and we've been asked to publish it - so here it is...
Dear Friend, I am writing to explain why Christians celebrate Christmas. Firstly, Jesus is God's Son. He was born through the Incarnation. This means that God came to earth through Jesus, as a human. God really loved us. That's why He gave us Jesus. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son." That is out of the Bible and means that God really loves us and the world He created, so He gave Jesus (his only Son) to us.
Why did God send Jesus to earth? God sent Jesus to earth to show us: what God was like, how God wanted us to live, and to die for our sins, so they could be forgiven. What does Jesus show us about how God wants us to live? He showed us that God wants us to love everyone. Like in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The man helped the injured man and they were supposed to be enemies. Also, at the Last Supper, Jesus said: "Love each other, as I have loved you". He showed us that we should forgive, because, when He was on the cross, He said "Father, forgive them. For they do not know what they are doing." When He said that, He was talking about the men who were killing Him.
Finally, what does Jesus show us about God? He shows us what God is like, through what He did. "Like father, like son". Jesus showed us that God forgives, loves everyone and welcomes everyone. So, we celebrate Christmas because it is when God gave us Jesus for us. That's how much He loves us.