Musings of a Cathedral Mouse- A Place of Hope

My second week in Chester Cathedral has been exciting and varied. It has included a whole variety of roles and opportunities but two of the most difficult challenges have been planning two large services. This may not come as a surprise as I am mostly spending the month shadowing the Canon Precentor.

The first service was a large funeral for a member of the Cathedral community, and in this act I have found a thread of Cathedral life which could be overlooked, the Cathedral as a place of Hope.

In the funeral liturgy we read of our certain hope in the resurrection. We acknowledge that death is not the end of our Christian journey and we speak of hope.

One of the prominent theme’s of Cathedral life is the mingling of different strands of business and worship. Dean Tim talks about creating a culture which is focused on Christ. A culture which has Christ at it’s heart. A culture founded on hope and this was something found both in the funeral but also in the second service I took part in: The Licensing of Pastoral Workers and Readers.

This second service spoke of hope in a different way. It spoke of the hope of the Christian faith continuing. Of faithful disciples witnessing to the Good News of Jesus in their communities. Over 600 people came to celebrate with them and cheer them on as they began their new ministries and it was wonderful to be a part of.

But one of the most striking moments for me was when we stood outside the West Doors and finished the final hymn and said the grace. In this moment Bishop Keith reminded us that this was what it was about. Stood outside the Cathedral on lookers filming this rather peculiar spectacle we were demonstrating the hope of our faith. It was a very powerful moment for me to reflect on!

I think at the heart of Cathedral life is hope. Hope that there is a different way to live. Whether it be through saying the offices, or celebrating the ministry of the diocese, there is hope found in the worshiping life of this Cathedral.

But, there is hope in other places as well. There is hope in lighting a candle with the mourning parent. There is hope in listening to the honorary chaplain telling stories about people’s differing needs. There is hope in listening to how the vergers care for people who have nowhere else to turn. There is hope in encouraging one person to remember that God can is with them in their daily life.

Many people enter the cathedral, some are explicitly looking for God but many are not. I am filled with hope that all encounter God in their own way, and fully believe that without spaces like this they may never encounter God at all.

Hope lingers,

Hope dwells,

Hope hovers and broods.

Hope does not demand,

Or expect.

Hope for the hopeless,

Hope for the hopeful,

Hope for those who regret.

A flickering candle,

The music of Handel,

Prayers fumbled

Silence which humbles

All

fill this cathedral with hope.

Musings of a Cathedral Mouse: A place of Welcome

This week I began to experience my first taste of Cathedral life at Chester Cathedral and I thought I would keep a sporadic blog to reflect on some of the experiences and to look back at later and ponder what God was up to at the time.

The first thing I want to reflect upon, sat drinking a steaming cup of coffee having completed my first full week of Cathedral life is how welcome I have been made to feel. The welcome has been wonderful, people have spent time with me (answering no end of questions), let me follow them and watch what they do and make me cups of tea when I have needed.

But I am not the only one. Every pilgrim who ventured through the doors seemed to be welcomed with a smile. Whether they be a tourist looking for an “experience”, I thoroughly recommend climbing the 246 steps to the top of the tower, or the person who wants to come and light a candle and pray. Everyone was welcomed with sensitivity and a smile. Chester Cathedral tries to go out of its way to welcome you, whether you be HRH Princess Ann to the person who refused to give his name but wanted to talk, we try to be a place of Welcome.

This may not sound like much but in the midst of a busy city I think it is important to be a place of warmth and welcome. Each morning the day begins with morning prayer. Gathered in a small chapel, around a single candle flame, we welcome the day with its unpredictability and thank God for those who we will encounter. But I will cover prayer later!

For now I end with this..

Whiskers twitching,

Nose sniffing,

There’s something in the air.

Not bread, not cheese,

Nor incensed steam,

But some form of deeper joy.

As the doors creak open,

Something is awoken,

A welcome beyond word or prayer,

A smile,

A nod,

A welcome that offers care,

A welcome that needs to be shared.

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