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Decorations are lighting up the town, trees are appearing in windows, Advent calendar chocolates are being consumed, Christmas music is getting into swing and advertisements aim to help us decide our Christmas list.
The days leading up to Christmas engender a sense of anticipation and expectation. With everything that is happening around us – the fears of climate change, the deep darkness of violence and the divisions defining our politics – they are a very welcome diversion.
But these days can be leading to something which is so much more than simply a momentary relief. They can be the start of the change many truly seek.
In our churches, many of us count down to Christmas with anticipation marked by ever-increasing light. Each week we add a new candle with a new prayer – for hope, for peace, for joy, for love: values that Christians believe are at the heart of the birth of Jesus, which, if placed at the heart of our care for each other and the environment, would eliminate all the darkness we face.
Values which, if outlived in our politics, would deliver something far more lasting than any election manifesto.
Hope, peace, joy, love – let us pray these win over all else.
The Very Rev’d Canon Margi Campbell,
Provost of St John’s Episcopal Cathedral, George Street.