Comment from Bishop Trevor Willmott Christmas 2013

KM Canterbury

There has been some criticism of Canterbury City Council regarding their decision not to fund Christmas lights in the city centre this year. Lights at Christmas don’t just illuminate our shopping trips, brighten our town centres, or decorate our tress and homes; they have a far deeper meaning. Christmas lights signify the divine light of Jesus, who comes to save us at the moment when the darkness of our human society is at its bleakest.

I understand the council, like so many individuals and families, must make difficult financial decisions this year. Whilst the council are immensely proud of the Christian heritage of this city and are wholly supportive of the Christian festival of Christmas, they must also ensure that they can fund services for everyone in the community. This year their funding has included dealing with families and businesses affected by the recent floods and includes support for the Canterbury Community Shelter, operated by the homeless charity, Catching Lives.

God’s gift of light, hope and love which we celebrate at Christmas, therefore, is not limited to Christmas lights, but is also found in acts of kindness and generosity. This Christmas, I pray that whether or not we decorate our homes, streets and trees with lights, that each one of us tries to show God’s light to those we love and, even more importantly, to those people who have no one to love them. God’s gift of Jesus is a gift for all of us and it is a light that cannot be put out.