This evening we attended a fabulous Christmas Carol service at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Mill Hill. The service featured carols sung by both the senior and junior choirs and relevant Christmas bible stories. It is part of our families Christmas tradition to attend this service. The service started with the Church lights being dimmed and the choir arriving singing "Once in Royal David's City". The church is blessed with a large and very versatile adult choir as well as fantastic childrens choir. For me carols such as "O Little town of Bethlehem" and "Hark A Herald" are a big part of the season. It is interesting to note that over recent years the tradition of children doorknocking singing carols has declined, as "trick or treat" has grown.
The church was packed and everyone was welcomed into the social centre afterwards for a mince pie and a glass of wine or soft drink. For such a wretched night, it was good to see the church so busy. It is probably one of the most popular fixtures in the calendar. I for one find the childrens choir very moving when they sing.
Christmas is traditionally a time of good deeds and giving. It has become heavily commercialised over the last few decades. It is perhaps sometimes worth reminding ourselves that there are plenty of people around the world who won't have much to celebrate this Christmas, indeed some people who won't even be able to openly celebrate the festival. Christmas is traditionally a feast to celebrate new life and a joyful time in the darkest days of winter. The feast has built on the ancient tradition of marking the Solstice, when the days start getting longer again. Over the next week, I'll be having many social events with friends and family and a bit of time off. We all need some time to recharge batteries and to relax. This year, for the first time in many years, we are not going away for New Year. Today for our family was the start of the season. This blog has been focussing on Your Choice Barnet for the last two weeks. Today we heard that the economy is growing and the jobless rate has fallen spectacularly. My hope is that the gap between the rich and the poor does not continue to grow. Lets use the Christmas season to remind us that there are people who need our help. Much as I love a good carol service, the Church means nothing if it doesn't remind us that we have responsibilities at this time of year. Whatever your faith or tradition, please remember that there are people sleeping rough in our very own city as I write this blog. I will be getting up at 6am to help feed them at The Passage, a homeless day centre in Victoria.
Ultimately these problems will get fixed when we all start fighting a bit harder for Social Justice. That to me is the real message of Christmas.