I had my first experience of watching 3D television over Christmas. I don’t know whether it was the strange feeling of sitting there in the living room wearing dark glasses, or the particular film that was on – ‘The Great Gatsby’ – or just what 3D television is actually like, but it was strange. This wasn’t my first 3D experience – I had gone to the cinema (or the pictures as we called it when I was growing up) to see ‘Avatar’. I came away from that with a splitting headache but had enjoyed being surrounded by pollen dropping down on the audience, coming out of the screen in a very beautiful way.
‘The Great Gatsby’ began with a similar effect, snowflakes seemingly falling in the room. But apart from the particular effects that can be achieved with 3D technology, if the purpose is to make film and television more real, more like reality, then this is not what I understand as reality; to be honest, things seemed less real to me than more. But maybe I need to see more 3D films and programmes to make a real judgement.
But it was interesting to think about this as we have been celebrating the incarnation, the way in which the Living God enters our reality and made it even more real, makes us more real, more engaged with the reality of our nature, more engaged with the reality of the divine.
One of my favourite films and a Christmas favourite of course, is ‘The Wizard of Oz’. One of the most marvellous cinematic moments for me is when, after the tornado has dropped Dorothy and Toto in the Land of Oz, she opens the door of the house and steps from a world viewed in black and white, into a word in technicolour. I like to think that the incarnation does that for humankind. The birth of Jesus brings us into the reality of God, technicolour, 3D, in focus, all singing, all dancing, humanity and reality as God created it to be.
The week though began with the Cathedral Carol Services and then we went into the events of Christmas Eve with our amazing vergers and volunteers working together to prepare the Cathedral for Christmas. The ‘Christmas Constellation’ – a collaboration between local artist Andrew Logan and children from the Sunday School – was raised over the tower space; the flowers were beautifully arranged; the 17th century chandelier lowered and new candles put in place and the crib began to be prepared.
The Crib Service was well attended by children with their parents and older relatives; Midnight Mass was a wonderful service, despite the weather and the Eucharists of Christmas Day a great climax of the Christmas celebrations.
The Dean’s Verger (my Verger), Paul Timms, has done the sums and from 1 December when we had our first Carol Service until Christmas Day, we welcomed 17,048 people to services, an all time high for us. This represents a huge amount of work by our vergers, musicians and choirs as well as the clergy and so many others behind the scenes and how amazing that so many people came to worship the Living God, the living Word.
In addition, the people of St Hugh’s had their first Christmas in their new church. It was great to see the crib there, under the altar, visible from the street, a witness to the Living God, who makes our reality even more real.
Have a very happy Christmas and a blessed New Year. We look forward to so many more Living God experiences in which to share with you in the New Year. Now we continue the celebrations and praise the God who is one with us, for as St Athanasius said
‘God became man that we might become God’
and so we pray the Alternative Collect for Christmas Day
Lord Jesus Christ,
your birth at Bethlehem
draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth:
accept our heartfelt praise
as we worship you,
our Saviour and our eternal God.