Head Boy’s Blog
Christmas at the Croydon Minster
Of all the events that pepper the Cumnor calendar, my absolute favourite has to be the Christmas carol service held at Croydon Minster; one of the few times in the school year that all the prep boys and their families come together in joyful celebration.
There is a heightened air of anticipation as we all stand in the courtyard to go inside; wrapped up warm, hands in pockets, huddling against the nip in the air. And then we are invited in to the majestic Minster; a splendid spiritual and physical sanctuary from the big, cold world outside.
This centuries-old place of worship is at its most animated when its pews are filled with congregation. A congregation that must once have counted several Archbishops of Canterbury among its number, but is now a wonderfully rich melting pot of Christians and other faiths, young and old, all a part of the Cumnor family.
My heart skips a beat when the congregation stands and the processional begins to walk solemnly down the central aisle. The beautifully ethereal sound of the bells and the flicker of candlelight all add to the magical yet holy atmosphere.
Every time the entire congregation sings a well-known carol, there is a wonderfully connected feeling. A connection with each other as we worship together, and a connection with the past. After all, these are carols that have been sung for generations as part of an age-old tradition. What a spine-tingling feeling when the choristers reach their descant and, together with the organ, the angelic sound swells to fill the dizzy heights of the church as if to take the roof off!
In fact, there is something rather comforting in being reminded of it, year after year.
This year I was honoured to be asked to write some words to conclude the message of the carol service and I took this opportunity to look more closely at the story that I know so well. As I peeled back the layers, I was delighted and surprised to find so much more than I expected.
I was deeply humbled by Mary’s blind faith in God and her trust in His plan at what must have been a time of enormous uncertainty and anxiety for her. I was touched by the calm courage shown by a family far from home and vulnerable; like many families find themselves today. I was inspired by the Wise Men, who despite being wise and wealthy, gave generously of their time, wealth and efforts to find the truth and were not too arrogant to bow in humility when they found it. In contrast to this are the brutal actions of King Herod who ordered the killing of all the babies in Bethlehem. These actions were fuelled by a fear and insecurity that can only come from a lack of faith and trust in God.
There is so much contained in the Nativity story that tells us, if we care to look, of the human condition, of our purpose, of the power of faith, of goodness against evil, of love and sacrifice.
I found a timeless and relevant beauty to a story that I had previously thought of as just another Bible passage. Perhaps this was the best Christmas present.
Merry Christmas to you all and a prosperous New Year.