CANON PETER LEONARD: Christmas is wonderful but this time of year can be a real struggle for some

Mum and daughter Catherine and Jessica Cowie take part in a Messy Cathedral in Portsmouth Cathedral
Mum and daughter Catherine and Jessica Cowie take part in a Messy Cathedral in Portsmouth Cathedral
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The canon of Portsmouth Cathedral is inspired by song lyrics and being on the coast

I’ve lived in Portsmouth now for four years and I love it.

A stained-glass window in St Thomas Chapel in Portsmouth Cathedral, depicting Mary and Jesus

A stained-glass window in St Thomas Chapel in Portsmouth Cathedral, depicting Mary and Jesus

There is something about the life and excitement of city living which is made even better by being on the coast – the great waterfront city.

At this time of year with the Christmas lights, the festive music, Christmas markets and the addition of an ice rink outside the Guildhall, it seems as if the sense of community becomes even stronger in Portsmouth.

It just feels wonderful.

Of course, that is not true for everyone and for some it becomes a greater struggle as financial pressures, health issues or loneliness and bereavement seem to bite even harder in December.

A time of mixed experiences and mixed emotions.

I was reflecting on this on a recent train journey to London listening to music through my headphones when one particular song came on. It was City of Stars from the soundtrack to the movie La La Land which was released in 2016.

One short phrase in the lyrics struck me quite powerfully, it was this:

‘City of stars

Just one thing everybody wants

There in the bars

And through the smokescreen of the crowded restaurants

It’s love

Yes, all we’re looking for is love from someone else...

...A voice that says, I’ll be here

And you’ll be all right.’

As we approach our Christmas services at Portsmouth Cathedral it strikes me how true these words are. Many of us are looking for that voice which says, ‘I’ll be here and you’ll be all right.’

In the Christmas story, in the birth of a baby called Jesus I believe that God says that to us, each and every one of us ‘I’ll be here and you’ll be all right.’

If you’d like to hear that story and those words for yourself then come along to one of our Christmas events.

Come to Messy Christmas for families, at 2pm on Saturday, December 16, or one of our carol services at 7pm on December 21, 22 or 23, or one of our crib services on Christmas Eve.

For more details please visit our website portsmouthcathedral.org.uk, our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages or call us on (023) 9282 3300.

Portsmouth Cathedral is in High Street, Old Portsmouth