Cathedral Visitors

This week it was my privilege to welcome Yr 3 pupils to the cathedral to learn about a service of baptism and the differences between Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. I demonstrated a baptism and the children got to try out the font themselves. They also enjoyed trying on some robes. The teacher and pupils said it was really helpful to have these things explained to them and I was able to answer many of their questions about church.

I can recall when I first started going along to the church youth group in my teens there was a lot I didn’t understand because I hadn’t been brought up to go to church.  I was grateful to the church leaders who took time to explain about the Christian faith to me, and about what went on in the services and who was in charge of running the church.  If I needed information, they told me who to go to and where. I think for the person who walks in off the street into a church it must seem strange if you are not used to it, it’s like an alien world. Even the most contemporary churches have their own language and culture. No matter what denomination we come from there are traditions we follow, and if you are new, it is hard to understand sometimes why we do the things we do. We cannot just assume everyone knows what the Christian faith and going to church is all about.

I can also remember when Ish and I first attended the cathedral there was a lot we didn’t understand about the ritual and liturgy. One of the clergy invited us to meet with him once a fortnight and he explained a lot about the symbolism, and the services, which we found so helpful. When we understood what we were doing and why we were doing it, the services became all the more meaningful. One of the explanations that I really appreciated was that we always stand when the Gospel reading is read out. This is to signify we are listening and being attentive to the words of Jesus and that we are prepared and willing to carry that Gospel message out of the church into the world. I think this is really important not just for adults to learn but also for children. If they don’t understand what is going on in church they will easily get bored and won’t want to attend.

In the cathedral we always hand out service booklets at the door. These give an explanation about the service, guide us about when to sit and stand, they also give the names of the people leading and preaching. At the back of the service sheet there are notices about other events that people are welcome to attend. We also hold regular ‘Welcome to Newcomers’ meetings with refreshments. I think when things are explained to people clearly, then they are not so suspicious of church and are more likely to return if they enjoy it the first time!

My philosophy in life is always keep people clearly and fully informed and then you don’t fall into the trap of people making wrong assumptions and misunderstandings when information is held back. Of course nowadays most churches have a website that explains what they are about so you can very wisely check them out before going along.

Let Us Pray

Lord God, we pray that you will help us to help others, who don’t know you, to understand the Christian faith and the importance of getting to know you. We pray that each of us will be a good witness of your Gospel in all that we say and do. That we will show the love, joy, and kindness of God, to others so they may come to know you personally for themselves. Amen


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