The Christmas story – “a blessing for the soul” says Bishop Forster

Bishop Andrew Forster praised the “incredible” choir and organist of the CCCMSP Group for their outstanding performance at Wednesday evening’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Christ Church, Londonderry. It was the Bishop’s first visit to Christ Church since his consecration in Armagh ten days earlier.

“Today I heard somebody say, ‘Music is a blessing for the soul.’ Tonight, our souls have been blessed,” Bishop Andrew said.

Scores of people from various denominations refused to be deterred by the driving rain which fell on the city throughout the evening. And Bishop Forster said he – and they – had been blessed by being there. “Isn’t the Christmas story a blessing for the soul, to us?” he asked. “I’m sure tonight, through word and through song, our souls have been blessed again to hear the story of that first nativity.”

Bishop Forster reminded those present of the words in Luke’s Gospel, ‘There was no room for him in the inn.’ “No room for the vulnerable;” the Bishop said, “no room for the lonely; no room for the young; no room for the outsider – because that’s who Mary and Joseph were that night, and that’s who their son had become that night – and yet there was no room for him.

“And for us, the Christmas story must ask us do we have room – room in the inn of our lives and of our hearts – for the outsider, for the lonely, for the outcast, for the vulnerable, for the young? But then we must ask ourselves, have we room in the inn of our hearts for the Christ-child and for the gift he is to us at Christmas time, because the word became flesh and dwelt among us?”

The Rector of the CCCMSP Group, Archdeacon Robert Miller, the Group’s Pastoral Director, Rev Katie McAteer, and Fr Patrick Lagan – a Curate at St Eugene’s Cathedral, just across the road from Christ Church – were among those who read lessons at the Service.

Refreshments were served afterwards, during which the Bishop, Archdeacon Miller and Rev McAteer mingled with parishioners and friends of Christ Church, among them the Administrator of Templemore Parish, Fr Paul Farren.