As I sat in my car in the Close, I watched what appeared to be the full complement of a local primary school crossing in front of me and I reflected upon whether these children fully understood the wonderful heritage to which they were exposed having the cathedral all around them. I wondered whether they were affected by their surroundings; was there a gentle process of osmosis as they probably heard the uplifting music emanating from the Cathedral during a service, or by way of a choir or organ practice.
I am sure many of you reading this will have moved by the nativity plays performed by your children, or in my case, grandchildren – that is, if they are lucky enough to attend a primary school that continues to perform the traditional Christian Rites of Passage. Again, here is another opportunity for our children to be part of our Christian ethos and what a pity there is a move away from these lovely simple productions. Two of my grandchildren were lucky to have performed in their nativity plays in All Saints Church in Cheltenham; a beautiful experience both for adults and children.
Their primary (not C of E) school has lessons on “Philosophy and Ethics” which is, I am sure as everybody knows, the new RE. Those two grandchildren come to me for tea after school on the same day as the aforementioned RE lesson and we have had the most enlightening conversations around the tea-table about the existence of God and the birth of Jesus promoting opportunity for theological discussion. In fact, the two sisters have very different views which provoke lively debate. I cannot tell you the number of times I have wished for the assistance of a friendly cleric to answer some of their questions. I have to resort to the tactic of answering a question with a question to encourage them even further to think for themselves.
And so to Christmas; so often we hear – it’s only for the children, but it isn’t, is it? It’s the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus together as a family and to remember those not as fortunate as ourselves.
Mary Adlard, Chair of Diocesan Board of Finance