A Christmas Letter from Bishop Martin


Dear ECS Friends,

The photograph is of my wife Elspeth’s Advent Wreath. A candle is lit every Sunday. The colours are significant of the mysteries of Advent, but this is not the place to go into them. If you would like to know more about the mysteries, then just drop me an email. For you, I hope that the candles build up a sense of expectation and, indeed, awareness, not just for Christmas, but for the New Year.

There are already noises of hope in the air concerning vaccines soon to be made available, thanks to the hard work of scientists and producers. Perhaps when you pray, thank God for those parents and guardians who are scientists, medical or otherwise, and those in ECS who teach science, as we realise the importance of science now more than ever. Please be aware of the vital importance of how we respond to the crisis facing the ecology of our planet recently pointed up by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Gutteres. The children of the Cathedral School face a future which is precarious. However, it is the precariousness of it that produces initiative, adventure and new ways of living together. Therefore, there is hope!

ALL the staff of ECS astonish me, given the current pressures! Not only is there the administrative paper work along with the constant attention to safety from Covid-19 and other challenges, but I find myself in awe of the teaching skills, the care and attention given to each child. At this late stage of my life, to have a chance to experience all that, AND the life-giving energy of the children, are blessings that few of my age have been given. Thank you to the School and you the parents and guardians for giving me that. The School is deeply and organically connected to the Cathedral. All those who work in and from the Cathedral have had a care not just for the Choristers but for the School as a whole. The clue is in the name of the School!

What I can give, as a rather ageing Chaplain, is limited, particularly at the moment. I decided, following half-term, that it would be wise for me to be a little distant physically from the School, largely because of age. But…not out of touch, I hope. I’ll be back as soon as possible, I assure you. In the meanwhile, I’ve tried to produce some PowerPoint ‘assembly’ material, a new skill which I wouldn’t otherwise have been given, thanks to the patience of the deputy head, Andy Bartlett. Soon, there’ll be a video available through our website, YouTube channel and on our social media channels which is called ‘A Christmas to Remember’. In it, all the boys and girls play a part: in music, carols, readings, drama and art, keeping in mind that many people around the country, including in Devon, are losing their jobs and therefore their financial resources, bringing about the growth in FoodBanks and, of course, tragically, homelessness. This poverty is one into which the Christ-child was not only born in the Gospel story, but now, right in our midst. The video is the outcome of a lot of hard-work and time from the staff. Thank you to all of them for making it possible. As the School couldn’t celebrate in the Cathedral, this video demonstrates the adaptability of all those involved. The School offers it to you as a sign of the engagement of the children and staff with the depth of the Christmas story.

The title of the video: ‘A Christmas to Remember’ is an acknowledgement that this Christmas will be significantly different and for some significantly difficult. Thus, I wrote a Christmas blessing for the staff which I now pass on to you and to yours. When it comes, enjoy Christmas and keep a special awareness in front of your minds and hearts.

May the Christ-child gaze on you with the Love of God,

May the Christ-child reach out for you with the Love of God,

May the Christ-child bring hope to you and yours in the Love of God.

May the Christ-child in His birth in you, be the birth of a refreshed Love in you and from you.

Best wishes to you,

Bishop Martin

4 December 2020
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