24 December 2020

The Dean's Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

2020 has been a very unusual year. And it’s been a hard year for many of us. Though, as we come to the end of the year, we see vaccines rolling out and we hope that at least some things will be better in 2021. 
 
If we do have safe and effective vaccines, they will help us a lot. But the Bible teaches us that our real hope is not in vaccines but in Christ. For even when this pandemic is past there will still be problems in the world. That is inevitable because this is a fallen world. It’s a world that’s heading for God’s final judgment because we’ve sinned – we’ve fallen out with him.  And all the problems we face are warnings of that bigger one. 
 
But the message of Christmas is a message of hope. Because Jesus was born to solve that bigger problem. When he lived on earth, he always did the right thing by God his Father. When he died on the cross, he took the judgement we deserve for our sin against God on our behalf. So that God can forgive us without saying what we’ve done is OK. When Jesus rose again on the 3rd day, he showed himself to be the one whom God promised would conquer death. When he comes back, he will raise the dead, judge the world and save his people. 
 
And when that happens, the world will be as it was meant to be. Death and mourning and crying and pain will be no more. Pandemics will be no more. Loneliness will be no more. Hardship will be no more. And God’s people will enjoy his loving rule forever. 
 
And so, my friends, this Christmas, put your hope in Jesus. Turn away from sin and trust him as your King. He is the true hope for this broken world. 

Christmas Services

This year our Christmas services will be mostly online. Government regulations have restricted the number of people who can be at church to a very small number. This is understandable as we are in a red zone. They have also restricted the times of our services, so that our 11.30 pm Christmas Eucharist will now be celebrated at 8.00 pm. 

Despite the small numbers allowed, and the high number of Covid-19 cases in our wider community, we will still have one on-site service for each language group for Christmas. This is a calculated risk we are taking so that those at home are able to see the Cathedral and, more importantly, so that we can have a small congregation together in person to share in the Lord’s Supper for Christmas and to stream it to those participating from home. We will, as usual, operate strict SOPs to protect those on-site as best we can.
 
Nearly all of us however, will celebrate Christmas online. Here are the online services for Christmas.

Kids’ Church Christmas Eve Service

This is our online Christmas service for children. It premieres at 6.00 pm on Christmas Eve (Thursday, 24 December 2020). Do join us and bring your kids along too! 

Cathedral Christmas Eve Eucharist (Luke 2:1-7)

If you would like to take part in the Lord’s Supper at the 8.00 pm Christmas Eucharist in English, please prepare some bread and wine (or grape juice) beforehand and make sure you are watching and participating in the service live. You can eat and drink in remembrance of Christ’s death for you at the same time as everyone else, so that we are eating and drinking together – even if we are physically apart. Here’s the link to the livestream.

Cathedral Christmas Eve Eucharist (Luke 2:1-7)

There are two ways you can participate in this service.
 
(a) Cathedral Christmas Day Family Service (‘normal’ online service)         
You can stream the online service in the usual way at this link. Do join us and invite your friends as well.

(b) Cathedral Christmas Day Zoom Service

This service will be conducted by Zoom as a Christmas special so that we can see each other for Christmas. Many of us miss seeing each other in church so some of our team are making a special effort to help us with that on Christmas morning. The service will be similar to the ‘normal’ online service above which will run simultaneously except that in this zoom service, some elements will be conducted live from leaders’ homes, there will be the opportunity for interaction with each other as part of the service and we will take a Zoom photograph together at the end of the service. You can log in at stmarys.my/ChristmasDayZoom after 9.45 am for a 10.00 am start to the service. Do join us for this ‘special’ Christmas treat.

Christmas Services in other languages

Christmas Services in other languages are as follows:
 
Bahasa Malaysia
Christmas Eve, 8.00 pm
Christmas Day 11.00 am 
 
Iban
Christmas Eve 10.00 pm
Christmas Day 8.00 am
 
Mandarin
26 December 5.00 pm
 
Nepali
Christmas Day 10.00 am (with online Nativity Drama) 
 
Please follow the links to the respective language pages for more details. 

Christmas Videos

If you missed it, here are our Christmas videos again: The Dean’s Christmas MessageWhen Christmas Isn’t ChristmasChristmas Bytes.  All our videos are on our YouTube channel. Videos of some of the carols at our services will also be available later.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

We plan to have a simple time of prayer, reading the Scriptures and a message to help us prepare for the New Year that we can join in from our homes at 11.30 pm on 31 December 2020. This will be on Zoom at the following link: stmarys.my/NYEZoom

For those who can’t use Zoom or who don’t stay up late at night, we will release a simple New Year devotion on the same passage using the normal channels at 10.00 am on New Year’s Day. 

Life Explored

Life Explored is a course designed to help people explore the meaning of life and introduce them to the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ. This course will run online for 7 sessions at 2.00 pm, beginning 3 January. Getting to know God, through the Bible, would be a wonderful way to start the new year and indeed a new chapter in life! Please invite your friends or family members to do the course. They can sign up for the course here: findoutmore.stmarys.my

Zoom Background

If you like, you could download some zoom backgrounds featuring Christmas elements at the Cathedral you can do so from here. You can use these at the Cathedral Christmas Day Zoom Service or at any other time you like.

Vaccines

A few people have been asking about how we should think about a vaccines in the context of this pandemic. Here is an article that I think is a helpful summary from a theological (not medical) perspective. Some of the applications are made in an American context but many of the principles are applicable to us as well. An important principle to remember as we consider all our responses to the pandemic is the command to love our neighbour.

Looking out for each other

Christmas can be hard for some people even in ‘normal’ time, and even more so during a pandemic. If you or someone you know is finding this a particularly challenging time, or would like someone to pray with you, please do call one of your leaders or congregational pastors. Please also remember that you can use our Emergency Pastoral Care Hotline on 011 5762 8524. Please also remember to be looking out for each other and calling each other – especially the elderly and those who are living alone. Do have a think about who might appreciate a call for Christmas and reach out to them. 
 
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas under very different circumstances this year, let’s remember that the real reason we celebrate has not changed. God, in his love, has sent his Son into the world to save us. That is news that gives us joy beyond our circumstances, peace with God in the midst of our turmoil, and hope for a brighter future than the world could ever imagine – with or without a pandemic in between. 
 
May the Lord bless and keep you this Christmas and always. 
 

Your brother in Christ,
Andrew


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