Sunday, December 22, 2013

Children's Christmas Service, Christchurch

 The Anglican Cathedral in Christchurch remains unusable since the February, 2011 earthquake. This past year however they completed their Transitional Cathedral.

The church faces many challenges, dozens of older stone churches were destroyed in the earthquakes and the cost of rebuilding this lost infrastructure far outstrips their means. The transitional cathedral, designed by a Japanese specialist in cardboard construction, offers a dramatic and welcoming space and was an economic buy.

 The cathedral has steel shipping containers for walls and offices atop of which long cardboard tubes support an translucent acrylic roof. The Cross and much of the sanctuary's furnishings are also cardboard. The large cattle fence in the centre aisle gives an indication of the seriousness with which an agricultural community takes an animal service.

Our three generation family attended the Children's Christmas Service with ANIMALS. Hector is just being introduced to the array of social and cultural performances that bind communities together. Two weeks ago he attended, and stayed awake for most of, a steam punk version of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. The animal service kept him completely entranced from start to finish.

The Christmas story was presented from the perspective of the Innkeeper whose stable full of animals became the birthplace of Jesus. Angels appeared, Mary and Joseph rode in on a donkey and as new players appeared they were warned, "Watch out for the pig."
By now the stage included a couple of horses, several ponies, pigs of all sizes, lots of sheep and lambs, donkeys, three cows, many dogs, cats seemed to be absent, and a host of keepers.

As the service ended the animals all headed out the front door. This is not the pig noted above. The Pig had two handlers, one with a large sheet of plywood to put between pig and whatever seemed in greatest danger at any given time.

This ram was very well behaved, though I think it was humming though the Lord's Prayer.

Behind the cathedral we witnessed the 184 chairs, a moving work of public art (every couple of months it moves to another empty space in downtown Christchurch, there are still many) as a remembrance of those killed in the earthquake.

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